The politics behind ''Weeds'' -- We look at Showtime's Golden Globe winning show about a drug-dealing mom

By Missy Schwartz
Updated June 02, 2006 at 04:00 AM EDT
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Even the giant gold Buddha in the corner can’t soothe Shane Botwin’s nerves. On a Los Angeles soundstage that has been transformed into a Zen-themed — ahem — massage parlor for Showtime’s Weeds, the 12-year-old Shane (Alexander Gould) sits next to his uncle Andy (Justin Kirk) on a red Chinese-silk couch. He’s anxiously wiping his hands on his khakis and looking around the waiting room when in walks a voluptuous Asian woman wearing dangerously skimpy hot pants. Andy gets up. ”My little buddy is a first-timer,” he tells her, gesturing to his nephew. ”He’s done the self-serve, but he’s looking for a full. Got any student discounts?” The masseuse glances at a hopeful-looking Shane and recoils. ”He little boy! You go away!” she cries, waving her hands. ”Inappropriate behavior!”

That might as well be Weeds‘ tagline. Since debuting last August to positive reviews but a modest 538,000 viewers, Showtime’s darkly comic series has relished pushing the politically incorrect envelope. There is, of course, the bold premise — Mary-Louise Parker plays a widowed, upper-middle-class, dope-dealing mom to Shane and another son — and the show also regularly takes on such brash topics as racism, religion, death, sex, adultery, and eating disorders. Now, in its sophomore season, which premieres Aug. 14, prepubescent Shane awaits his first happy ending. That’s one helluva way to explore adolescent sexuality. Creator Jenji Kohan wouldn’t have it any other way. ”It’s very inappropriate,” she says. ”We scream inappropriate — and there are consequences for the impropriety, but that’s Weeds. We cross the line.”

This season, they’re doing it with even greater gusto. ”It’s about growth — both personal and botanical,” says Kohan. Last year’s finale found Parker’s Nancy Botwin leaving behind her spitfire supplier, Heylia (Tonye Patano), to cultivate and sell her own product — all while pursuing a romance with a single dad (Saved!‘s Martin Donovan) who just happens to be a DEA agent. Now Nancy is hot on becoming the Pablo Escobar of the fictional SoCal town of Agrestic, and goes so far as to adopt a street alias: Lacy LaPlante. ”I feel like she went to sleep when her husband died,” says Parker, 41, unwinding in her trailer after wrapping her last scene for the day. ”So [now] things are kind of waking her up.” Nancy faces, for instance, how her illegal livelihood could be harming both her kids — especially her teenage son, Silas (Hunter Parrish). Meanwhile, her pothead accountant, Doug (Kevin Nealon), continues to manage her cash, Elizabeth Perkins’ Celia tries to figure out why everyone hates her (maybe because a normal day for her includes replacing her young daughter’s chocolate bars with laxatives), and Andy dodges a tour of duty in Iraq by enrolling in rabbinical school. It’s a typical far-fetched solution for the slacker uncle, who also looks after his two nephews. ”They’ve lost a father,” says Kirk, Parker’s costar from 2003’s HBO movie Angels in America. ”In both sweet and comedic ways, I’m bringing them into adulthood.” He laughs. Last season, ”we were barely scratching the surface, compared to what we’re doing this year.”

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