The producers of Weeds were almost certainly correct that after three seasons on Showtime, the show’s original premise had run its course.
Widow Nancy Botwin (Mary-Louise Parker) spent three years selling pot to maintain her family’s status in the cookie-cutter suburb of Agrestic, but the comedy’s central irony was tapped out. So in last year’s finale, series creator Jenji Kohan literally burnt her fictional creation to the ground, in the hopes that it would rise phoenix-like from the ashes and creatively rebound or expand.
So good-bye, "Little Boxes" and farewell Agrestic.
And hello, Ren Mar, the newly minted California beach town making its first appearance in Monday’s (June 16) Weeds season premiere.
Through the two episodes initially sent to critics (a third is sitting next to my computer, but I haven’t had the chance to watch it), my initial read is that although the Weeds team knew that it was time to revise and reboot the show’s formula, the exact mechanics of that transition and the new satirical targets weren’t anywhere near as clear.
Monday’s episode mostly just achieved its basic two-pronged basic purpose: Nancy, Shane and Andy have left the smoldering remains of Agrestic behind, taking up residence with Nancy’s father-in-law, a grudge-holding gambling addict played by Albert Brooks. Meanwhile, back in Agrestic, the remaining lynchpins in the Botwin Drug Empire have been left to tie up Nancy’s loose ends in the most fruitful ways possible (Celia Hodes in prison? Comic gold, though not til next week, really).
But if the first season tackled general suburban hypocrisy and the second season was all about the hypocrisy of US drug enforcement policy and the third season expanded its focus to the hypocrisies of religious fundamentalism, where is the fourth season going?
The obvious answer is that Weeds is ready to turn its attentions to our border policies and immigration hypocrisy, with a little help from the return of Tres Seis leader Guillermo, who offered Nancy a gig at the end of last season and now conveniently seems willing to relocate from Agrestic to Ren Mar himself. But I’m sort of with Nancy at the episode’s end, expressing a bit of confusion as to what Guillermo wants her to be doing and why she’s uniquely qualified. Nancy’s great stealth virtue has always been that because she looks like Mary-Louise Parker, she can get away with things that more easily profiled people — i.e. racial minorities, mostly — can’t. We’ve covered that before, though. If that’s all that she has to offer Guillermo, too, I’m going to be disappointed.
Things that worked in the premiere:
Things that didn’t work so well:
Anyway, enough of me. What’d you think of the Weeds premiere? And how are you feeling about the revamped format?