a review by Nalini Haynes
Weeds is a comedy about Nancy, an incompetent human being, who fell into the drug trade to ‘make ends meet’ after the death of her first husband, Jude Botwin. Nancy is a serial widow although her latest husband is currently alive; she fled her husband in order to protect Shane. Nancy took her infant son Stevie away from his father in the process.
Shane, a highly intelligent adolescent, murdered Pilar, a Mexican power-broker who was in the process of telling Nancy that she’d have Shane and Silas murdered. Silas is Shane’s older brother; not the brains of the family but he’s loyal, loving and wounded by the events of recent years. Doug is a friend of the family who has tagged along for the ride. Andy Botwin is Shane and Silas’ uncle, the brother of Nancy’s deceased husband Jude, who tags along in the perennial hope of getting Nancy in bed in a more than platonic way.
Season six starts with Nancy trying to flee, trying to get her family together and trying to get a car. The black humour and social comment is epitomised in scenes like where Nancy takes baby Stevie away from Doug, bitching that she has to do everything while handing Stevie straight to Shane. This kind of verbal versus physical contrast or verbal versus subtext is used repeatedly for humour.
The Botwin family plus Doug – who, for some unknown reason, comes along for the ride – go on the run. Crossing the border to leave the United States is a challenge, finding work isn’t easy, and it’s realistically low-paid and soul-destroying. Silas isn’t allowed to go to college but he, like any rebellious teenager actively denied an education, sneaks off to college and falls in love with college life and into sex with a girl. Shane’s intelligence and black humour leaves everyone in doubt about his sanity and mental stability, a point upon which he plays.
For most of the season the plot races along with lots of humour along the way. There were a few episodes late in the season that dragged. These episodes focused on Nancy being a terrible mother: this is true but it was getting melancholy and a bit melodramatic. The other focal point of these episodes was Andy’s unrequited ‘thing’ for Nancy. I’m not a fan of ‘will they, won’t they’ relationships that drag on – six seasons is dragging – but at least this was really only for two or three episodes. Andy is the nice guy, which is also a redeeming feature of this relationship, but I’m finding it harder to like Nancy. Nancy is at her most likeable when she’s the mother protecting her children, and her least likeable when she goes back into drugs as a shortcut, screwing around (FFS get a vibrator) and generally being selfish and irresponsible.
After the brief down point of those few episodes about 2/3 of the way through, the pace picks up and runs screaming to the end of the season. The plot twists and turns were great and the final scene of the season – brilliant. I NEED season 7, RIGHT NOW.
I enjoy Weeds as a black comedy/family drama but it’s not for the conservatively inclined: there is drug use, manufacturing and dealing, violence in sex (not rape, consensual violence intended to be sexy but it’s presented fairly graphically), a dysfunctional family reduced in circumstances to become that American stereotype: ‘trailer park trash’. If you like anti-heroes and black comedy, this could be the series for you.