UC Observer logo
UCObserver on SoundCloud UCObserver on YouTube UCObserver on Facebook UCObserver on Twitter UCObserver's RSS Feeds
Courtesy of Maple Pictures

Weeds (Box Set)

Irreverent series offers poignant observations about family and community

By David Wilson

Weeds (Seasons 1 and 2)
Created by Jenji Kohan,
starring Mary-Louise Parker

Dad has just died. Son number one is a teenage time bomb. Son number two knows way too much for a kid his age. Live-in uncle is a slacker and a scoundrel. The neighbours are schemers, cheats and rarely sober.

Mom has no time for the luxury of grief. She’s too busy just hanging on. And the business that’s helping her do it is dope dealing — nothing hard, just marijuana and only to adults.
Welcome to Agrestic, Calif., an upper-middle class enclave of ticky-tacky houses, sun-dappled SUVs, supersized lattes-to-go and some of the most hilariously dysfunctional characters ever to populate a comedy series.

Make that an adult comedy series. Weeds pushes the boundaries of television comedy and is decidedly not for family video night. There’s abundant substance abuse, profanity and sexuality, delivered with an offhandedness that will offend some and leave others bent double with laughter.

The rough edges may be casual but they’re not gratuitous. The series is as much about the messiness of modern life as it is about the misadventures of homemaker-cum-pot dealer Nancy Botwin (Mary-Louise Parker). It peers through the tinted windows of the imported cars everyone drives and beyond the iron gates of the manicured subdivisions they inhabit to discover a citizenry plagued by alienation, anxiety and disenchantment. Small wonder Nancy’s business thrives.

The storyline careens from one over-the-top plot turn to the next. Season One chronicles Nancy’s efforts to get her business up and running — she services the neighbourhood as if marijuana were Tupperware. Things get a little darker in Season Two as she falls in love with a federal drug enforcement agent and starts to step on the toes of more professional dealers. (Season Three will be available on DVD next fall.)

But series creator Jenji Kohan is going for more than laughs. Lurking beneath the screwball surface of the series are some poignant observations about family and community today. Agrestic is no Little House on the Prairie. Traditional structures and values have crumbled or been paved over, and the characters’ shortcomings are prolific.

Yet family and community — albeit redefined along the lines of shared dysfunction — somehow prevail. The train wrecks of Agrestic may crave Nancy’s high-test herb, but affluence is the greater addiction and it’s never enough. At day’s end, all they really have is each other. The bond is primitive, almost tribal, and sweetly affirming. Weeds explores the cul-de-sacs of modern alienation and finds hope growing in the unlikeliest of places.


Author's photo
David Wilson is the editor-publisher of The Observer.
Readers’ advisory: The discussion below is moderated by The UC Observer and facilitated by Intense Debate (ID), an online commentary system. The Observer reserves the right to edit or reject any comment it deems to be inappropriate. Approved comments may be further edited for length, clarity and accuracy, and published in the print edition of the magazine. Please note: readers do not need to sign up with ID to post their comments on ucobserver.org. We require only your user name and e-mail address. Your comments will be posted from Monday to Friday between 9:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Join the discussion today!
Promotional Image
Promotional Image

Video

ObserverDocs: My Year of Living Spiritually

by Observer Staff

Anne Bokma left the Dutch Reformed Church as a young adult and eventually became a member of the United Church and then the Unitarian Universalists. Having long explored the "spiritual but not religious" demographic as a writer, she decided to immerse herself in practices — like hiring a soul coach, secular choir-singing and forest bathing — for 12 months to find both enlightenment and entertainment.

Promotional Image

Faith

January 2018

In the beginning

by Alanna Mitchell

The award-winning science writer travels to northern Australia to explore the world's oldest creation story

Society

January 2018

The good death

by Pieta Woolley

Anglican professor Donald Grayston made dying in peace a lifetime project. His example is inspiring others to plan a meaningful exit.

Faith

January 2018

Me, Dad and the Almighty

by Anne Bayin

A preacher’s kid pretended to be a devout daughter, but secretly she felt lost in a wilderness of doubt.

Society

January 2018

The good death

by Pieta Woolley

Anglican professor Donald Grayston made dying in peace a lifetime project. His example is inspiring others to plan a meaningful exit.

Faith

January 2018

In the beginning

by Alanna Mitchell

The award-winning science writer travels to northern Australia to explore the world's oldest creation story

Faith

January 2018

Me, Dad and the Almighty

by Anne Bayin

A preacher’s kid pretended to be a devout daughter, but secretly she felt lost in a wilderness of doubt.

Promotional Image