Weeds: Season 8
With the increased in original weekly programming presented on the premium tier of cable provides television was able to break free of the restrictive authority of the Federal Communication Commission, the FCC. This trend rend that lead to the liberation of mature themes and explicit content previously only feasible in R rated movies was due in large part to a loophole not imagined when the organization was originally mandated. The FCC has oversight with content broadcast over the airwaves; radio and traditional television. Cable TV is a paid service exempt from that we used to receive through those flimsy rabbit ear antennae sitting atop the family television. This liberal view of content rather rapidly to series that focus on what is commonly referred to as the anti-hero; a main character who is not the typical bastion of admiral qualities present in most central TV characters. This infused into the collective consciousness of popular culture as a mob boss with mommy issues, a forensic scientist who moonlights as a serial murderer and, the one under consideration here, a soccer mom, widow supporting her family as a drug dealer. ‘Weeds’ followed the bizarre and often dangerous life of Nancy Botwin (Mary-Louise Parker) a mother of two boys living in Southern California. Like many suburban women when her husband died she was left ill prepared to fend for herself. Eschewing the mundane office worker route Nancy began selling pot locally. Over the following eight seasons dime bags and a few ounces escalated to Nancy becoming central to large, exceptionally deadly drug cartels. One aspect of this type of programing is people beginning watching for the vicarious thrill of a regular person moving to live outside the constraints of the law. This lasts for a while but eventually the moral core of the audience surfaces and we want to see the anti-hero suffer some repercussions. Living outside the restriction of the law must remove the person from its protection. This rationalization is necessary in order for the law abiding audience to reconcile their own safety.in the case of Nancy she got away with a lot but did go to jail and at the conclusion of the penultimate season seriously shot. The executives at Showtime have decreed this eighth season was the last tying up the loose ends.
As this final season opens Nancy is shot in the head, falling down into a pool of her own blood, at the hospital her family gathers; brother-in-law, Andy Botwin (Justin Kirk) and her two eldest sons, Shane (Alexander Gould) and Silas (Hunter Parrish). In order to prevent her brain from swelling Nancy’s doctor’s place her in a medically induced coma. As mentioned there comes a point in most anti-hero driven series when the piper must be paid. Although Nancy did face dire repercussions for her illegal actions and bad choices and a period of incarceration between seasons is no longer sufficient. See the quirky maternal drug dealer with a hole in her pretty head slams this fact home to the faithful audience. This season is all about the results of choosing a life of crime. The bottom line here is the fundamental premise of the series a perversion of the American dream. She wanted to maintain her comfortable life style, something not at all feasible with the legal jobs Nancy could obtain. Instead Nancy chose an easy way out; at least that is what she initially thought. Seven previous seasons proved this would not be the case.
Placing the leading character into a coma is a time honored plot device especially popular with all types of soap operas. At its core ‘Weeds’ is prime time soap with explicit use of sex, drugs and violence. Although the series awakens Nancy sooner than any hardcore soap it does nicely set an introspective mood for these last episodes. The characters look for some modicum of closure; Andy seeks work in a synagogue while Shane, in a form of rebellion against the outlaw traditions of the Botwin clan, prepares to graduate the police academy. When short of cash Nancy is once again tempted to return to her pot dealing roots. To any rational person observing this move would seem ludicrous but it underscores a crucial component of Nancy’s personality. She has gone beyond the definition of the suburban drama queen graduating some time ago into a full fledge adrenaline addict. The illegal activities began out of a two-fold motivation with Nancy; wanting a comfortable life style but fundamentally unwilling to expend a lot of effort. Dealing pot permitted Nancy to hang out, sipping her ever present coffee drink and bring in substantial amounts of tax free cash. One by one family members she originally sought to provide for were pulled in as accomplices creating a suburban criminal family.
After several marriages, a few additional children locations far from Southern California and a lesbian lover of convenience it has come time to bid adieu to Nancy and her entourage. One of the elements of this series that significantly helped to override the natural morale objections is the amazing performances provided by this talented ensemble cast. The troupe lead by Ms Parker each contributed to the solid entertainment the series provided. Parker has a true knack for the dry dark humor that supported the strange crime thriller the series became. Over the eight seasons tightly constructed scripts gave this cast the scaffold for creative performances. Each cast member was afforded ample opportunity to develop fully formed characters. Stoner former bureaucrat Doug Wilson (Kevin Nealon) went form a power broker in a prefabricated community to integral member of the posse. Andy went through more odd jobs and get rich quick schemes that most would think possible while younger of the original sons, Shane, would exhibit a psychotic dark side that a professional cartel enforcer found disturbing. Ironically he was the one who would turn to law enforcement
The final season dipped a bit in the tight construction that held everything in place for seven seasons. I suppose it is always natural. Much of the draw the show exhibited came from watching the crew gets deeper than ever into trouble only to slip out at the very last moment. Now, the end is here and the excitement has to be concluded. Showtime was right to pull the plug at this point rather than let ratings and interest diminish. All too often a series like this is subjected to ridiculous measure to revive a show on life support. Showtime respected the talented directors, writers and cast as well as the loyal fans by allowing ‘Weeds’ to go peacefully into the rest of cancellation.