Sunday, January 02, 2011
The Evolution of Weeds
In early seasons, Nancy was redeemable. Or at least tolerable. Sure, her sexual style was always a little bit rape-y, and yes she always had that strange drunk-seeming thing about her and by-god she never was a very good mother. But in early seasons at least she was a slightly less terrible human being. Time was when Nancy was a heavily flawed but decent person who made bad decisions and didn't know how to dig herself out. But quickly, very quickly, she lost all credibility and the show just dragged along behind her on her path of self-destruction. As a character study it's sort of interesting, but it's hell to watch and I'd be a lot more interested if she seemed a little more consistent.
But in seasons 1-3 it didn't really matter what you thought of Nancy. Two words: Celia, Conrad. They made the show. As interesting, layered, engaging characters, Celia and Conrad held down the show's claim to legitimate character writing. Joined by a then-significantly-better-written Doug, the sometimes-fun Dean, always-awesome Heylia, excellent Isabelle and hilarious Sanjay, Celia and Conrad anchored a pretty solid supporting cast- then the writers burned the city down. Literally. Season 3 sends by cutting ties to some of the best characters (Heylia, Conrad and crew) and moving away from the town that gave the show it's underlying themes of trapped conformity and small rebellion. Gone too was the theme song that went hand in hand with those themes: the ironically ever-changing "Little Boxes".
Next came 2 seasons of dirty, gritty, unpleasantness involving Mexican gangsters. So that was fun. Not really. Nancy got grosser, the themes were smashed to pieces and pressure fell to the 3 men at the centre of Nancy's life to pick up the pieces of the floundering show.
Andy, Silas and Shane have consistently been intriguing aspects of the show. Andy from day one was a fan favourite and to this day maintains that status. The wonderful Justin Kirk's brilliant timing and underlying acting chops make him the most solid player on the team- every single time the writers have thrown him the ball he's touched base. Andy's arc of responsibility, his misguided yet unflinching loyalty, his oddly seated yet totally relatable insecurities, they all make him one of the truly great characters on TV.
Season 6 was a fun pick-me-up from seasons 4 and 5. It still lacked the thematic punch of the early stuff but being on the run did these characters some good. At the very least it got them out of Mexico/California, which was highly essential to my sanity. The characters and their journey as seen through the eyes of the reporter introduced late in the season added a really interesting element. It was refreshing to hear descriptors thrown at Nancy in the form of an adjective cloud, every person in her life's opinion summed up in a top 5 list that kicked off with "manipulative" and ended with "bitch". Even more excellent was the comparison of Shane vs. Silas. Shane was a kid, Silas a temperamental, problematic teenager, but the dangerous words surrounding Shane were no where near Silas- nice is, after all, different than good.