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TV & sitcom DVDs - Weeds - Season One

Weeds - Season One
Starring: Mary-Louise Parker
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Number of discs: 2
Rated: Unrated (Should be NC 17 for language and sexual content)
Studio: Lionsgate
DVD Release Date: July 11, 2006
Run Time: 283 minutes

Years ago an anti-drug commercial reported that 40% of all marijuana smoked in the USA was consumed in the inner cities of America. Obviously the statistic was meant to point out that 60% was being consumed in the suburbs and rural areas. Whether or not that statistic had any role in the Jenji Kohan creation Weeds is not obvious but what is obvious is that the series, now into its sixth season, is as successful as it is subversive. Season one of Weeds is by far the most light hearted of what can only be described as a dark comedy / drama about the life and times of weed dealer Nancy Botwin.

Nancy Botwin, played by the talented Mary Louise Parker, is a recently widowed suburban housewife with two teenage boys. Botwin is doing her utmost to hold it all together – pay the bills, keep up appearances and maintain a lifestyle to which she and her children have become accustom. The decision to deal weed may not seem the most obvious on the surface the statistics back it up with 56% of Californians believing that marijuana should be legalized and more than 30% having smoked marijuana the opportunity for a small productive business in the fictional town of Agrestic  (Stevenson Ranch, California). The business of selling an illegal product is fraught with problems even in the fictional world and it is these problems and the appearance of Nancy’s completely irresponsible brother in law that creates the foundation for the storylines in the first season of Weeds.

The key players in this series are of course Nancy Botwin ,her two children Silas (Hunter Parrish) and Shane (Alexander Gould), and Andy Botwin (Justin Kirk) around these four are the rest of the players who are equally brilliant in their roles. Kevin Nealon never fails to deliver solid performances with deadpan brilliance as the crooked CPA Doug Wilson in episode after episode. The most gifted member of the cast though is Elizabeth Perkins as Celia Hodes the alcoholic anti drug campaigner who is also Nancy’s best friend. Perkins simply dominates the screen when she is on it with nuance and skill that outstrips even this immensely talented cast. Also of note is Romany Malco as drug dealer Conrad Shepherd who is of course smitten with Nancy. Conrad is also part of a family that distributes weed to dealers in the area headed by the matriarch of the family Heylia James (Tonye Patano). There are of course quite a few other characters in this ensemble but those are the ones to watch when you pick up this boxed set.

In simple terms the storyline is Nancy finds out that retail distribution is more difficult and more complicated that she can possibly imagine. Nancy is blissfully unaware of her own complicity in her own problems. Nancy never takes a step back when rushing headlong is an alternative. Nancy doesn’t recognize danger when she sees it. The story is all about Nancy which is as it should be since we all need someone with whom we can identify. What makes this series work so well though is that it is like looking at a car wreck from multiple angles. It is always a wreck but it is also endlessly fascinating. While the characters in the story are interesting I cannot imagine any circumstances under which I would befriend any of them. To a person they are reprehensible but part of the beauty of the suburban life is that we only see what people want us to see and the importance of appearances is a huge motivator in Nancy’s life as it is in the lives of those around her. This series is definitely worth picking up starting with season one.

Denis Bernicky



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