MEET THE POTHEAD NEXT DOOR
N.C. School Of The Arts Grad Mary-Louise Parker And Alexander Gould In 'weeds.'
The suburbs are full of dirty little secrets, as ABC's "Desperate Housewives" reminds us in its ribald (for network TV, anyway) manner.
Now comes "Weeds," Showtime's cannabis-laced comedy-drama, in which the family man mowing his lawn on the other side of your picket fence has another type of grass in mind once he goes back inside.
Until now, cable shows such as "Six Feet Under" have only glimpsed this secret in spark-up-a-fatty scenes played for edgy mood or easy laughs. In "Weeds," illicit drug use makes a handy metaphor for the moral gray areas its characters operate in.
Main character Nancy Botwin, played by N.C. School of the Arts grad Mary-Louise Parker, is a housewife in her mid-30s with no marketable job skills to support her two sons. After her husband unexpectedly dies, she resorts to selling pot to her neighbors in the cookie-cutter 'burbs of Agrestic, Calif.
Nancy is a tough, guarded, sexy, frustrated, kind-hearted woman who struggles mightily with the consequences of every decision she makes.
Even viewers who hate what she does for a living may find themselves rooting for her.
"Weeds" begins its 10-episode run tonight at 11 on Showtime.
The town's dope smokers worry for obvious reasons about being exposed in gossipy Agrestic. But they don't consider what they're doing to be wrong.
Take happy-go-smoky city councilman Doug Wilson, played by hilarious "Saturday Night Live" alumnus Kevin Nealon. Wilson happens to be Nancy's accountant and one of her best customers. His poker-smoker buddy Dean Hodes (Andy Milder) is an attorney who probably strives to kill every brain cell containing images of his horrid wife, Celia, the image-obsessed PTA president played with scene-stealing disgust by Elizabeth Perkins.
When she's not confronting the town's hot female tennis instructor for sleeping with her husband (an event she has secretly taped) or preventing her 15-year-old daughter from bedding Nancy's lovelorn teenage son Silas, Celia projects her self-loathing on her chubby preteen daughter, Isabelle. In one typically nasty moment, Celia needles the girl with the nickname "Isa-belly." In another, she slips Ex-Lax into Isabelle's hidden chocolate stash, with predictably humiliating results.
At least Dean is a gentle and caring, if clueless, dad. There are worse evils, it seems, than smoking pot.
"Weeds" will delight some, gravely offend others and elicit shrugs from those who find it trying a little too hard to be naughty. But those who stick with the show will be rewarded with gradual, satisfying character development. Even the show's one lazily written character, the stereotypically sassy Heylia James (Tonye Patano), matriarch of the African-American family that supplies Nancy with dope, gains a deeper personality as the story progresses.
"Weeds" was created by Jenji Kohan, a "Gilmore Girls" producer whose writing credits include "Mad About You" and "Will & Grace." Her new show contains some of the most interesting child characters seen on TV lately. Hunter Parrish as Silas and Allie Grant as Isabelle are excellent, and Alexander Gould turns in a remarkable performance as Nancy's sensitive 8-year-old misfit son, Shane. His portrayal of Shane's pain over his father's death peeks through the protective shield of a child's overactive imagination to deliver the show's most poignant moments.
So how will "Weeds" play in the real-life suburbs? As "Desperate Housewives" demonstrated, risking offense does not necessarily hurt a show's chances. Being boring does.
On that score (no pun intended), "Weeds" has nothing to worry about.
For more information visit: www.sho.com For some reason this website is not accessable from outside the US. Is there something on it which they are ashamed for?
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