Move over, Six Feet Under
... and score one for Showtime. There's a new dark dramedy that's worth spending an hour getting to know with the debut of Weeds
. Take a pinch of American Beauty
's irony, add a dash of Desperate Housewives
' tree-lined suburbia and a sprinkle of Arrested Development
's manic energy and you have high times with a potent buzz. Headlined by one of the most engaging actresses in the biz, Mary-Louise Parker
(why that schmuck Billy Crudup
decided to ditch her while pregnant in favor of Claire Danes
, I'll never know) as Nancy Botwin – a woman who suddenly becomes a widow after her husband drops dead during his morning jog. Left with two sons to raise alone, does she downsize and reprioritize her life? Of course not. Who bothers to scale back when you can take up pot dealing as a way to keep your white picket fence existence a reality. The show focuses on the shades of gray permeating the pristine facade of upper middle class living which is always seen almost exclusively in black and white. And speaking of ebony and ivory, race is an immediate subplot in Nancy's new gig as the dimebag delivery lady since her supply comes from a Black family residing on the opposite side of the tracks. One of the uneasiest, yet funny scenes comes at the very beginning when she viciously riffs back and forth with matriarch Heylia James (Tonye Patano
) and son Conrad (Romany Malco
) on African-American stereotypes that ends with her calling herself a "bitch ass bitch" in mock defeat. It's quite interesting and telling that she comes to view the James's as her sort of inner city refuge from the two faced gossipy atmosphere of her fenced-in neighborhood. Even more intriguing is the underlying sexual tension between Conrad and Nancy. I'm hoping that Jenji Kohan doesn't punk out with carrying out that as a viable storyline. Anchored by the gloriously devious Elizabeth Perkins
who plays Nancy's frenemy Celia, the preview episode breezed through dishy topics like religion (comparing the Passion of the Christ
to a "snuff film"), homosexuality (Nancy's teenage cohort on the white collar cannabis circuit who happens to be her accountant's son who also happens to be gay) and underage sex with the hazy nonchalance of a bong hit. Take a toke of this tripped-out view of a soccer mom with quite the double life. You're in for some high times, indeed.
As one series was introduced, another says goodbye with the series finale of Queer As Folk
. After 5 years, the lives of a cross-section of same-sex friends and lovers in Pittsburgh comes to a close. Unfortunately for a series that pushed so many boundaries in earlier seasons wrapped things up in such a timid way without few surprises. Who would've thought that such a groundbreaking vehicle that came in like a lion would end up leaving like a lamb?