You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Weeds

Despite the focus on sex and violence, one element that most clearly distinguishes pay cable from broadcast TV is casual drug use, with rampant pot smoking (and worse) in "Six Feet Under" and "The Sopranos." From that perspective, the ostensible come-on for this Showtime half-hour proves less provocative than the familiar theme of secrets and lies in suburbia.

With:
Nancy Botwin - Mary-Louise Parker Celia Hodes - Elizabeth Perkins Doug Wilson - Kevin Nealon Andy Botwin - Justin Kirk Heylia James - Tonye Patano Conrad Shepard - Romany Malco Silas Botwin - Hunter Parrish Shane Botwin - Alexander Gould Dean Hodes - Andy Milder

Despite the political focus on sex and violence, one element that most clearly distinguishes pay cable from broadcast TV is casual drug use, with rampant pot smoking (and worse) in “Six Feet Under,” “Entourage” and “The Sopranos.” From that perspective, the ostensible come-on for this interesting but not especially funny Showtime half-hour — a desperate housewife who resorts to selling marijuana — proves less provocative than the familiar theme of secrets and lies in suburbia. Like Showtime’s “Huff,” there’s much to like here — beginning with star Mary-Louise Parker — but the complete package falls just short of must-buy TV.

That’s in part because “Weeds” doesn’t really take root, pardon the expression, until the fourth of five episodes made available, when Parker’s “Angels in America” co-star Justin Kirk arrives as her ne’er-do-well brother-in-law, injecting a welcome dose of vitality and fun into the proceedings. Whether that comes too late for those who view the lively but light-on-laughs premiere remains to be seen.

We meet Nancy Botwin (Parker) some time after life has been upended by her husband’s sudden death, and she comes across as a woman in a benumbed state of shock. Yes, she’s peddling pot to pay the bills, but there’s an emotional detachment as she grapples with issues surrounding her sexually active teenage son (Hunter Parrish) and screwy younger boy (Alexander Gould), the kind of dweeby kid who’s going to get beaten up a lot in school.

To her African-American pot suppliers, meanwhile, Nancy is “the white lady” who drops in periodically, receiving a-little-too-studied homespun wisdom from matriarch Heylia (Tonye Patano) as well as offers of friendship and possibly more from son Conrad (Romany Malco). At the same time, she’s dealing to her local city councilman (Kevin Nealon) and providing a sympathetic ear to head-of-the-PTA Celia (Elizabeth Perkins), whose preoccupation with outward appearances includes tormenting her overweight daughter and belittling her philandering husband.

These various stories are told well enough, but few of the threads are truly distinctive — beginning with the central notion that suburbanites slap “Just Say No” bumper stickers on their SUVs and then privately say “Yes,” which shouldn’t come as a major revelation to anyone.

In short, the plots dreamed up by creator Jenji Kohan are essentially more risque embodiments of the shenanigans occurring on otherwise-idyllic Wisteria Lane — another place where gossip travels fast. As Celia’s states, “There are no secrets in this town.”

Alas, there’s not much originality either. The major attraction thus becomes the immensely appealing Parker, whose character adheres to her own semi-hypocritical moral code (she won’t sell to kids); and later Kirk, a cool-to-have-around uncle who might not be the best influence on Nancy’s boys.

Besides lacking a big concept a la “Fat Actress,” “Weeds” (set to run three times a week after this preview telecast) hews more toward drama along the blurry “dramedy” continuum, which is more of a truth-in-advertising warning for those anticipating guffaws than an indictment.

Showtime’s understandable goal remains penetrating the velvet ropes of HBO’s fashionable club, and in some respects, this series wouldn’t look out of place there. In part, though, that’s because the cost of admission isn’t quite what it used to be.

Weeds

Showtime, Sun. Aug. 7, 11 P.M.

Production: Filmed in Los Angeles by Lions Gate Television in association with Tilted Prods. Executive producer, Jenji Kohan; co-executive producer, Roberto Benabib; co-producers, Danielle Weinstock, Matthew Salsberg; director, Brian Dannelly; writer, Kohan.

Crew: Camera, Bobby Bukowski; production design, Ruth Ammon; editor, Pamela Martin; music, Joey Santiago; casting, Amy McIntyre Britt, Anya Colloff. Running time: 30 MIN.

With: Nancy Botwin - Mary-Louise Parker Celia Hodes - Elizabeth Perkins Doug Wilson - Kevin Nealon Andy Botwin - Justin Kirk Heylia James - Tonye Patano Conrad Shepard - Romany Malco Silas Botwin - Hunter Parrish Shane Botwin - Alexander Gould Dean Hodes - Andy Milder

More Film

  • Timothee Chalamet, Armie Hammer Offering Oscar

    Timothee Chalamet, Armie Hammer Offering Oscar Sweepstakes For a Cause

    Despite the political focus on sex and violence, one element that most clearly distinguishes pay cable from broadcast TV is casual drug use, with rampant pot smoking (and worse) in “Six Feet Under,” “Entourage” and “The Sopranos.” From that perspective, the ostensible come-on for this interesting but not especially funny Showtime half-hour — a desperate […]

  • Game Night review

    Box Office: 'Game Night' Edges 'Annihilation' With $1 Million Opening

    Despite the political focus on sex and violence, one element that most clearly distinguishes pay cable from broadcast TV is casual drug use, with rampant pot smoking (and worse) in “Six Feet Under,” “Entourage” and “The Sopranos.” From that perspective, the ostensible come-on for this interesting but not especially funny Showtime half-hour — a desperate […]

  • Mary J Blige Walk of Fame

    Mary J. Blige, Common, Sufjan Stevens, More to Perform at Academy Awards

    Despite the political focus on sex and violence, one element that most clearly distinguishes pay cable from broadcast TV is casual drug use, with rampant pot smoking (and worse) in “Six Feet Under,” “Entourage” and “The Sopranos.” From that perspective, the ostensible come-on for this interesting but not especially funny Showtime half-hour — a desperate […]

  • Bizzers Like "Sound" of South-South Co-Prods

    Bizzers Like "Sound" of South-South Co-Prods

    Despite the political focus on sex and violence, one element that most clearly distinguishes pay cable from broadcast TV is casual drug use, with rampant pot smoking (and worse) in “Six Feet Under,” “Entourage” and “The Sopranos.” From that perspective, the ostensible come-on for this interesting but not especially funny Showtime half-hour — a desperate […]

  • Former IM Global Exec Stuart Ford's

    Former IM Global Exec Stuart Ford's New Venture to Focus on Content

    Despite the political focus on sex and violence, one element that most clearly distinguishes pay cable from broadcast TV is casual drug use, with rampant pot smoking (and worse) in “Six Feet Under,” “Entourage” and “The Sopranos.” From that perspective, the ostensible come-on for this interesting but not especially funny Showtime half-hour — a desperate […]

  • 'Eldorado' Review: A Moving Essay on

    Berlin Film Review: 'Eldorado'

    Despite the political focus on sex and violence, one element that most clearly distinguishes pay cable from broadcast TV is casual drug use, with rampant pot smoking (and worse) in “Six Feet Under,” “Entourage” and “The Sopranos.” From that perspective, the ostensible come-on for this interesting but not especially funny Showtime half-hour — a desperate […]

  • 'Museum' Review: Dazzling, Heartfelt Mexican Heist

    Berlin Film Review: 'Museum'

    Despite the political focus on sex and violence, one element that most clearly distinguishes pay cable from broadcast TV is casual drug use, with rampant pot smoking (and worse) in “Six Feet Under,” “Entourage” and “The Sopranos.” From that perspective, the ostensible come-on for this interesting but not especially funny Showtime half-hour — a desperate […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content