‘Weeds: Season One’ on DVD
LOS ANGELES — The TV series Weeds, a savage comedy about a suburban housewife who sells marijuana, is a satire on American culture and lifestyle.
It ridicules the U.S. war on drugs, critiques the war on terrorism, lambastes the war in Iraq and makes the American Dream look like an American hallucination. Especially in the suburbs. Especially because the heroine, a Caucasian sarcastically nicknamed “Snowflake” by her African-American suppliers, goes to the inner city to replenish her stash. Incendiary issues are in play.
So you tell Weeds star Mary Louise Parker you are surprised that the show ever made it to air, that Ann Coulter hasn’t attacked its creators with an ice pick.
“Me too!” Parker says, a wry smile sneaking up on her mouth. She plays the Snowflake, a drug-dealing, sexually free-wheeling single mom. Parker, a single mom herself after breaking up with real-life boyfriend Billy Crudup during her pregnancy, has taken a break today. She is shooting the 12 episodes for season two, which goes to air in August (on the 31st in Canada).
For the interviews, we’re huddled in a cavernous soundstage inside Hollywood’s aging Ren-Mar Studios, where Lucille Ball once filmed I Love Lucy.
“I think we’re constantly satirizing ourselves even when we don’t realize it,” Parker says of the American state of mind and the appetite for edgy entertainment that runs counter to conventional thinking. “And I think this show is a perfect example of that.”
Since it went to air last August (on Showtime in the U.S., Showcase in Canada), Weeds has become one of those cult hits that enter pop culture as a comic symbol of something darker on the American landscape.
The Liongates production was just nominated for five Emmy Awards. Now the audience is expanding: Weeds: Season One just came out, a compilation of the 10 episodes from 2005. In terms of content, including counter-culture extras such as co-star Romany Malco’ hilarious history of marijuana use and Kevin Nealon’s droll comic asides, this is an excellent set (except that core fans are rightly annoyed that the two-disc box set is in fullscreen mode only, not in 16:9 widescreen, the format for its hi-def broadcasts).
Increased popularity and more exposure could lead to the kind of criticism that Weeds has managed to avoid so far. “It’s a tricky show,” says co-star Elizabeth Perkins, who plays Parker’s friend and neighbour, a loose cannon and ardent PTA fascist. “And I don’t think any of us knew when we put it out there that the reaction was going to be as positive as it was … because it can be perceived in many ways. We cross a lot of boundaries and tread some very fine lines.”
Yet a show as subversive as Weeds is as necessary now as bigot Archie Bunker from All In The Family was in an earlier generation, Perkins says. “I think it is incredibly timely. I think there is a distinctive lack of intelligent comedy on American television. America is embracing it because we don’t have a lot of voice in our government right now.”
But Weeds still has managed to avoid the censuring suffered by the C&W group The Dixie Chicks for simply speaking out against the Bush administration. “I think we’re sneaking in under the wire,” says Perkins.
Parker gives the show a lot of its credibility, although there are reports she is not exactly buddy-buddy with Weeds creator Jenji Kohan, especially because Parker thinks her character is a lousy mother to her two sons.
But, as established star who broke out in Fried Green Tomatoes and helped make two obscure plays, Prelude To A Kiss and Proof, hits on Broadway, Parker has transformational powers. Nancy Botwin in Weeds is a recognizable, thoroughly flawed but very human character.
Parker, a classically trained South Carolinian, is in the prime of her career. She will be 42 on Aug. 2: Young enough to be vibrant and sexy on screen, old enough not to fall into the trap of lecturing audiences.
“I have no opinion on the politics of the show,” Parker says of Weeds. “I don’t pick anything because of a stand that it takes. I’m not a propagandist. I take things purely because of the text, because I like the words, because I find some kind of humanity coming through, because of irony, because it makes me laugh. It is just that simple. It is that uncomplicated. And I don’t pick things because I think they’ll advance my career.”
Parker once turned down the Teri Hatcher role in Desperate Housewives. “That was a career job,” she says. “This is not a career job. You don’t take a part as a pot-dealing suburban housewife (to make a career-enhancing move). But it worked out okay.”
It is an entertaining show that will be reviewed next week in “The Couch Potato Report”!
‘Weeds: Season One’ on DVD