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Weeds Uncap, Revisited...Because I Want You to Argue with Me

Weeds_lounging2 I'm writing this noon post much later than I should be and much later than I normally do, because I've been fretting over Weeds (and other stuff because I'm not totally shallow) all morning and thinking a lot about the comments from my last Weeds Uncap.

I suggested that the overall theme of the show was the American Dream gone awry. To me, the themes of "marrying up," only to be blindsided by circumstance, pushing a suburban queen to embrace the reviled underground profession of drug sales to maintain some semblance of normalcy, suburban exodus, and climbing the other side of the social strata to be an odd reflection of all of the things that Americans have been going through over the past five years or so. Commenter annie disagreed and suggested that the real theme was female vulnerability, which really got me thinking, especially after this week's episode.

Nancy's first marriage was for love (presumably) and ended tragically. Her all-too-brief affair with Conrad was born out of love and her burgeoning relationship with Andy seems to be familial morphing into reluctant romance. Her subsequent marriages, or attempts at marriage, have been for protection and/or power with perhaps a small hint of love hidden somewhere in the background.

We also have Celia, a bonafide fuckup, whose aims in life are fairly basic: to return to the good life that she once enjoyed, even if it required her to be in a loveless marriage with children who despise her. She was sucked into a pyramid scheme designed to prey on women just like her, hiding under the mask of empowerment through cheap makeup.

The men in the show, with perhaps the exception of Conrad (though he was a drug dealer), are either cruel or too dysfunctional to be much help to the women. As Shane and Silas grow up, they seem to realize that they are utterly on their own in forging a path to manhood. So you have this pile of people attempting to make something work, even if they long ago forgot what that something is.

So, I guess, therein lies the female vulnerability. The traditional routes of security, those being sex, marriage, and offspring, aren't panning out the way the female characters seem to instinctually presume that they would.

(It's also worth noting that the theme song, "Little Boxes," a classic anti-suburban-conformity anthem, disappeared from the opening credits some time ago.)

As the show's plot becomes more and more unwieldy and unlikely, however, it becomes more and more difficult to recognize these points unless you really look for them. The further spiral into the drug and politics underworld and the increasing racial tensions toward the American Enemy du Jour, make it harder to give a shit about the characters because they're so ridiculous.

And yet there are still moments of brilliance. I have yet to see an episode of Weeds that didn't have me cracking up at least several times. And this week's episode in which Nancy and Andy navigate the endless hangover dawn of new parenthood had moments that were purely sublime. As baby Steven wails over the monitor, Nancy and Andy lie in bed, sleepily debating whose turn it is to tend to him. Nancy describes family as an endless cycle of food and shit as she clings to the precious moments of sleep that she needed so badly that she began to shake. Her first outing to a restaurant has her caressing her first post-pregnancy alcoholic beverage only to have to deal with an engorged breast in the bathroom. (By the way, their method of relieving that situation was bizarre to me.)

So, I don't know. Perhaps female vulnerability is part of the American Dream? There's some ingrained desire to be taken care of? What do you think?







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Comments

Suzy Q

I think y'all are overthinking it. This show, I mean. Why does it have to be emblematic of female vulnerability or the American dream gone wrong or some other existential nonsense? Why can't it just be about a dysfunctional woman (who manages to make every decision wrong) and her dysfunctional family and friends?

Stop dissecting, just enjoy. Or don't watch.

She Likes Purple

Honestly, I think the show's creator would want this kind of dissecting/analysis. From what I've seen/read about the show's writers/creators, it's not intended to just be a show about a woman who makes bad decisions. I'd guess most Showtime/HBO shows aren't meant to be just enjoyed but understood, too.

kdiddy

Overthinking is my hobby! ;-)
I could just watch and enjoy and the excellent writing facilitates that greatly. But I think it's just obviously a multi-layered show. Just the fact that it's on Showtime automatically gives it more depth than some wacky family sitcom on network TV. It's saying SOMETHING. I'm just not sure what or why.

Whit

I'm with Suzy. Why do we have to pretend that TV shows are a form of art and that the people behind them have meanings and agendas? That would imply that writers, directors and actors are artists and care about their craft and respect their audience. Frankly, that's a lot of pressure and it makes the sponsors uncomfortable.

Snarky Amber

Can we not dissect the television we watch *and* enjoy it? We're pop culture bloggers. What should we write about if not the themes and symbols buried within the shows we enjoy? Pop culture can and should be taken apart and examined critically, for many reasons. The primary one is that our pop culture tells us a lot more about ourselves as people and as a society than you might care to admit. Why are we obsessed with vampires? Why are we obsessed with this romantic comedy relationship ideal that relies on strict gender roles even when many of the women who love those movies identify as feminist? Why has Nancy gotten to where she is when she started out dealing drugs merely to maintain her Keep Up With The Joneses lifestyle? I think these are questions worth asking and seeking answers for, while enjoying the movies and TV shows we're dissecting, not instead of enjoying them.

Palinode

I suggest that dissecting actually adds to the enjoyment of a show and makes our entertainment even more entertaining. That's pretty much the premise of MamaPop.com.

Amanda of Shamelessly Sassy

When I saw the relieving of Nancy's engorged boobies, I sort of wondering why they were going all quasi Grapes of Wrath on my ass. That said, I love dissecting the shows that I love. Overall, I love television shows that have the capacity to be dissected.

annie

Thing is that Nancy got into drugs because it was an easy way for a woman with zero skills to make decent money quickly. We are never told if Nancy's husband had life insurance or left her with any means of simply paying bills. Since about half of Americans don't have life insurance or aren't adequately insured, it's a safe bet that Nance fell into the category of women who didn't know much about how the money ended up in the bank. She had a credit card. She used it. Husband took care of the rest. Husband drops dead. Cue the sad music and position the wolves at the door.

Season one and two are about how one ill-thought out decision made in the name of self-preservation can quickly compound until a person is in so far over her head that rash decisions become the norm and long-term planning isn't an option because survival issues are daily.

Is it just tv and not art? I would think that the creators, writers and actors would argue for a bit of both. And if there is nothing to analyze, why bother watching? Then it just becomes a staged type of reality television whose only purpose is distracting the masses from taking action as the actual American Dream dissolves around their ticky tacky little homes or, less grassy knoll, a way to prompt all you lazy Americans who still have disposable income to get out there and spend it as it clearly does place great emphasis on the stuff of live rather than the substance.

I gave up on this show a while ago. The creepy stuff with the children, the shell-shocked widow riding wave after wave of her own inability to accept reality and stop looking for quick fixes. It's not that funny and when it is, it's the kind of funny that makes you hope no one heard you laugh.

Nice discussion.

Suzy Q

kdiddy, I love you, baby, and I love your recaps. You know I read all of them and most of the time comment. You just seem, I don't know, stuck on this show and its downward spiral into whateverness. I kind of want to push you into the couch, hand you a drink, and watch it with you as we roll our eyes at how absurd it's become.

The show has certainly morphed into something, but I'm not at all sure that it's SAYING anything. Cheers!

habanerogal

I love your disections I just wish that we Canadians were caught up to the Americans in stories and that I had a clue what was going on in the storyline. But that isn't your fault I blame the CRTC and the networks for keeping us in the dark.

ali

I'm sorry. I have nothing coherent to say...I'm still slightly traumatized from Andy's swallowing.




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