My heart essentially dropped when I read that Showtime went ahead and renewed Weeds. Again. At one time, it was one of my favorite shows, but once Nancy (Mary-Louise Parker) burned down the house and fled Agrestic, the show felt done. When the Botwins and friends turned up in Ren Mar, it felt wrong. It wasn’t the same show any more. The whole point of Weeds was that we were watching the life of a soccer mom evolve into a drug dealer. By the time she burned down Agrestic, well, she’d turned into a drug dealer. Goal accomplished. Where do we go from there?
There are really two answers to that question. One is let the show finish gracefully, and let the fans come up with their own fate for Nancy. She could go down in TV history as a drug dealing mom who also is an arsonist among other things. The other answer is unfortunately the more practical one if you are a Cable network who wants to turn a profit: you shouldn’t care if a show turns to shit, you still want to churn it out cash for the bottom line so let’s ruin the strong character we created and let’s destroy the show. For money. And in Hollywood, you’re lucky if you get any sort of art since the bottom line is always about profit.
I slugged through life in Ren Mar half-heartedly. It was no longer the same show I knew and loved. Once Nancy hooked up with the drug kingpin I wondered if it would turn around. Uh, no. The only redeeming thing for me was when Shane (Alexander Gould) murdered Pilar (Kate del Castillo). It was one of those moments I didn’t see coming and I thought, “Wow. I just had to watch an entire season of this show for one great moment. Maybe it will pick up next season.” That was a gross mis-judgement on my part and when my now historically least favorite Weeds season (that is season 6 for any hard core fans) started, I saw it was going to crash and burn. In fact, I had to stop watching by episode 5. It wasn’t until Season 7 was about to start that I gave Weeds one last chance, for old times’ sake. I sucked it up, watched the rest of Season 6 and prepared for the worst. Strangely, I pretty much enjoyed Season 7. Now, it wasn’t near the greatness of the first two seasons of the show but it felt as if Jenji Kohan and company had sat down and reflected on what made Nancy Botwin, well, Nancy Botwin.
What initially made Weeds such as great show was taking an ordinary person and putting her in extraordinary circumstances and watching her struggle to survive. What ruined this show was forgetting who Nancy was for, uh, about four seasons and just writing plots and forgetting that it wasn’t the drug thing alone that made the show what it was. It was Nancy swimming with sharks while never quite becoming one, keeping a bit of humanity inside her somewhere, and somehow triumphing. I realize characters need to evolve and grow. But Nancy never felt that she organically evolved after she left Agrestic. She reacted. Nobody likes a reactor. Then the character is ruled by plot. Not their personality. Nancy was ruled by plot for 4 seasons and the show floundered. Yes, it still might have gotten good ratings but its watchability, at least in my opinion, took a nose-dive. This season (7), Nancy was back to being proactive and the show felt different. Not quite like it did, especially when teeny bopper queen Michelle Trachtenberg shows up as a spoiled drug dealer. That’s when the show ended up having a nasty power struggle that I don’t feel paid off: it became a question of what’s stronger? Nancy as a character determining the show’s outcome, or the plot. It felt like a stalemate.
I’ve got to admit (SPOILER ALERT) that as I watched the last scene of this season, I felt that it was the right time to end Weeds. And what better way? Does Nancy get shot? I like to think she does. Does she die? I kind of think so. Because you see, Nancy stopped struggling and in Nancy’s world, that really is death. She needs to live for the next fix of drama. So, sure, Jenji Kohan can now take her next 13 episodes and do with them what she may. I hope it is something mind-blowing, not mind-numbing. And… if Nancy does survive the gun shot, who does get killed? Someone needs to die. Maybe one of her children? Now that might be interesting but I’m talking about an entirely different show. How would Nancy survive the death of one of her kids? Would she go out for revenge? Again, not Weeds. If Doug or Jill die, then that’s sort of a cop out. So… what are they going to do? Honestly, I’m not sure I care any more. I would have rather seen Nancy go down in a hail of bullets. An anti-heroine who could go down with some great criminals. In my mind, there is nothing worse than going down in history as a Connecticut home owner (I lived in Connecticut for two years so I can attest to this). How boring can you get? If that’s how her life turned out, then Showtime and Jenji Kohan, I’d like my money back. And my time.