Thursday, July 12, 2012

Weeds Marathon

As I have done in late June- early July every year for the past seven years, I had a Weeds Marathon last weekend - I downloaded the entire season and watched the whole thing in one shot... well this year I watched the whole season in two shots.

Except for Monk and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Weeds is the only TV series I've gotten interested in over the past decade.

If I may use a drug analogy, Weeds was once a supreme high but after awhile the effects wore off and it no longer delivered quite the same buzz. But you keep trying anyway, hoping to recapture that feeling.  Unlike actual drugs in which you become acclimated to the psycho-physiological effects, the problem with Weeds is that series creator Jenji Kohan has run out of ideas.

Really, once Nancy Botwin leaves the Agrestic community after the third season, the quality dropped off - the entire suburban mom breaking the law concept was destroyed. And they had an excellent reason to lose the Doug Wilson character played by Kevin Nealon at that point, and yet they did not. I  never understood why Kevin Nealon has had a career. He's incredibly unattractive, but even more so, he seems slow and oafish. And the Doug Wilson character is without redeeming value - and predictably so. You always know what his character will do in any given scene - the jerkiest, most self-centered thing. I fast forward through Doug Wilson scenes as much as possible.

A huge general problem with the series is that everybody is basically corrupt and nobody cares that much about anything except for short-term pleasure and gain. The Doug Wilson character leads the pack on this, but they're all basically the same. And while there's a certain funky insouciance in a world where the characters are cool about everything and just go with the flow, it gets boring very quickly. If nobody really cares about anything, and everybody is corrupt, then what's the point?

Occasionally they'll give a character an attack of conscience and then things do become interesting. Nancy had an attack of conscience during the seasons where she was involved with a Mexican drug kingpin -  it turns out that they were not only dealing drugs, they were trafficking underaged girls. And that made Nancy cooperate with the police and that put the show on track for two seasons - it still wasn't as good as the first three years, but it was still addicting.

The Andy Botwin character (played by Justin Kirk) who is usually too flaky to take a stand about anything, also occasionally has an attack of conscience and at those times his character becomes interesting again.

And then the Silas character has attacks of conscience. Although this past season, 7, was by far the weakest one in part because Silas was jerked around as needed by the plot. The actor who plays him (Hunter Parrish) should be paid extra for trying to make sense of the empty, repetitive dialog he's given.

Another huge problem is that Weeds is suffering to a certain extent from the Smurfette principle, which is especially disappointing coming from a show created by a woman. But the show is all about Nancy Botwin, her two sons and her brother-in-law (oh yes and Doug Wilson, but who really cares about him?) The fact that none of the men is ever in a relationship that lasts more than a couple of months is truly disturbing. This used to be justified somewhat because they were on the run, but they were in Denmark for three years and only Shane appears to have had a substantial relationship with someone during that time.

There seems to be some effort to rehabilitate the Shane character (Alexander Gould), who basically became a psycho at the end of season 5. Giving him a relationship in Denmark was, I guess, phase one, and then having him join the police academy at the end of season seven is phase two. Because psychos might be interesting as adversaries, but they're not too interesting as one of the good guys.

One thing I have to say about Mary Louise Parker - she must be bionic. She appears not to have aged at all in seven years of Weeds. She's forty-seven years old - I kid you not - and looks like her early 30s. To get some sense of how most people in their 40s age, check out episodes of the Daily Show from 2005 and compare Jon Stewart then and now. That's not a knock against Stewart - I'm holding him up as an example of normal aging.

According to Wikipedia, the next season, 8, will be the last one.