When it was originally on: 2005-2012
Original network: Showtime
Where you can stream it now: Netflix
Had I seen it before: No
Why I picked it: I needed some Showtime shows so as to keep HBO from completely dominating my premium cable slate. I’m endlessly intrigued by whether or not Showtime shows are actually inferior to HBO, or if they simply don’t get the same amount of exposure thereby limiting their success.
I also think Weeds is uniquely interesting because on paper it seems shockingly similar to one of the most discussed tv shows of all time, Breaking Bad. Both are predicated on the question “what if people who you never expected to sell drugs started selling drugs?” Weeds stayed on the air for eight seasons, five of which overlapped with Breaking Bad. It will NEVER have the same legacy. Is that because it was distributed by Showtime, because Breaking Bad stole its thunder, or because it was simply not as good as it seemed during its initial run?
What I liked: The I love how this pilot skips straight ahead to the mundane reality of its premise, rather than going out of its way to explain that premise. Nancy is a widow with two sons who sells marijuana. We learn this by watching Nancy be a widow with two sons who sells marijuana. So many writers would’ve said “oh, we have to show flashbacks of her husband’s funeral!” or “oh, we have to explain WHY she decided to sell marijuana!” and I think Weeds proves that no, you don’t. You don’t have to spend a half hour setting up your premise and defending it. You can just have characters living the reality you created for them, and that’s enough.
They also do a great job of making Nancy someone we can root for. She’s pretty much the only adult on this show I don’t want to slap in the face (at least anyone that they tried to characterize in this first episode). She has a moral compass, with rules like “don’t sell to children.” She knows how to be a badass when she has to be, but she also comes off as incredibly empathetic. Nancy is a protagonist I can get behind.
What I didn’t like: part of me feels like the Showtime execs gave the writers a laundry list of “shit they can’t do on basic cable” and said they’d only buy the pilot if Weeds hit a specific quota. There’s swearing, even f-bombs! There’s two men together in a pre-Brokeback Mountain pilot! There’s a scene of a dude screwing his tennis pro! These plot points served their purpose just fine without the depictions being as graphic as they get, and there does seem to be some just-because-we-can bits that don’t need to be there.
I’m also not sure how to put it into words, but the Weeds pilot is just kind of. . . blah. It’s one of those not-funny-enough-to-be-a-comedy-not-dramatic-enough-to-be-a-drama shows. Maybe in 2005 it felt more special than it does now, but in 2020 it just reads as a premium cable channel trying to prove how edgy they are. Do I hate the characters? Only the ones I’m supposed to, but no one is exceptionally interesting or compelling, just… fine. The overall premise? Also… just… fine. It’s hard to really point to much as being a real flaw or problem, but it’s also hard to point to anything that Weeds is bringing to the table that feels special.
Do I want to watch Ep. 2: I mean, I wouldn’t object to it, but I’m not going to go out of my way to.