Weeds: Season One Review

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Splifftastic tale of dope dealing in America's suburbs


Life is, televisually, very unfair to us Brits. When we shell out for cable TV, we get comedy shows that test the very limits of that word and an occasional one-off ‘special’ starring someone who used to be in EastEnders gussied up in period costume. Americans get The Sopranos, The Wire, Entourage, and now Weeds. Brilliant.

The latest round of evidence in the Americans’ evermore convincing ‘we’re actually much cleverer than you’ TV prosecution concerns Nancy Botwin (spotlessly played with perfect deadpan by Mary-Louise Parker), your average TV soccer mom — vertiginous heels, groomed for any social eventuality, giant pastel-coloured house — with a secret (natch). Following the death of her husband, Nancy has decided to forego the job market or emotional collapse in favour of dealing marijuana to neighbours and spacey schoolkids. If she were a Desperate Housewife she’d be the one the other Botoxed gossips would whisper about, but secretly admire.

Weeds succeeds brilliantly in withholding any kind of moral judgement on drugs. Some of the people who do drugs are good, some are bad. But it’s the person we judge, not the substance. Even Nancy’s own suppliers are a sit-com-ready snarky, loving family. Everyone in the show has their thing they need to get them through: for some it’s a whole heap o’ doobies; for bitchy neighbour Elizabeth Perkins (gloriously turning a career of being lovely instantly on its head) it’s making others feel like crap; for Nancy’s youngest son it’s causing havoc at school. Nancy hasn’t yet found hers, so lives in a permanent fog of her own grief and boredom.

Laced with the bizarre but firmly planted in reality, Weeds is about the smartest female-centric drama in years and infinitely better than any of our homegrown efforts.