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August 31, 2015

Jane After Dark: Weeds, season 4 - Nancy goes to the dark side (of Mexico)

by Jane Boursaw, posted Jun 28th 2009 10:17AM
Weeds Season 3 - Nancy Botwin and Esteban
This week in Jane After Dark, I took a short break from The Wire, but don't worry, devoted Wire fans! I'm watching season three right now, and already writing next week's column in my head.

Since I'm covering season five of Weeds for TV Squad, I thought I'd better get caught up on season four. I'd watched episodes here and there, but not the entire season from start to finish. I just finished the last episode and have to say the series certainly took a turn in a different direction.

I watched seasons one, two and three last winter, all in the span of a couple weeks. I couldn't get enough of it, and now the show has evolved into something different than how it started. As Bruce said in the comments section of last week's review, "I still feel as though Agrestic, the town of "little boxes," was in and of itself a main character on the show, and the show just isn't the same without it. I can live without Haylia and Conrad, but the show just isn't the same being set in some generic place. I miss Agrestic. I liked having Doug on the city council, etc. Agrestic as the setting of the show is simply irreplaceable."

I've been thinking about this comment all week, and I really agree with it. But, Bruce, stick with me on this, because maybe we can evolve right along with the show. During season one, I felt like Nancy was this soccer mom who found herself in a difficult situation when her husband died. Out of desperation, she turned to a life of crime to make ends meet. That's what made the show so brilliant. She could have been any one of us, ready to snap when the bills pile up and no way of paying them. She experienced a life crisis at the loss of her husband and was drifting through life dazed and confused, just trying to get by. Selling pot was a viable way to make a living, and let's face it, not all that far-fetched. It was certainly more viable than trying to pay the mortgage by working at Starbucks.

Now I feel a little differently about Nancy. I think she's always been more seat-of-her-pants gal than soccer mom, and I kind of wonder what her life with Judah was like before he died. I'd love to see a flashback episode that gives us a day in the life when all was right in her world. Was she edgy and carefree? Did she have a cynical outlook on life? Did she throw out the rulebook in her day-to-day life of parent-teacher meetings and iced coffee runs?

I think the Nancy we know now -- the one that kills off old people, has rough sex, and sleeps with Mexican drug lords -- was always there waiting to get out. She lives life on the edge, and she's done some things that even the most desperate among us wouldn't dream of doing -- maybe because they're too "out there," maybe because we're too afraid of getting caught.

As for the other characters, I've had fun watching them evolve in season four, and the dynamic between Doug and Andy and their "immigration business" is hilarious. We've got Celia selling Nancy out, Silas shagging Lisa and using her cheese shop to sell pot, and Shane in the throws of puberty. Albert Brooks as Lenny Botwin is a stroke of brilliant casting. I hope we see more of him in season five.

So how do you feel about the direction Weeds took in season four? Are you still onboard with the show? I look forward to reading your comments.

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Just watched the first episode of season 4. WTF?

Apparently, Showtime picked up the series from Lionsgate and savaged, gutted, eviscerated, hatcheted, sabotaged, redirected, embezzled, stole and flushed the budget.

Bad, bad, BAD production values: including horrendous production design, grotesque product placement, mediocre cinematography and ridiculous, amateur-hour chromatic aberration from crappy cameras. I mean, could the actors look any worse and unconvincing if everyone actually tried to effect it? Poor Celia. And Silas looks 30, for crying out loud. They even abandoned the amazing opening credits in favor of poorly-executed, meaningless and pointless pablum.

And bad, bad, BAD, BAD, BAD writing...who's absurd idea was it to hire cheap, unimaginative, navel-gazing, kvetching putzes as writers? Since when was this a culturally Jewish, urban story? I thought it was about Middle America? Way to change planes in the middle of the flight, dipsticks. I like Woody Allen as much as the next guy, but he has skill.

I cannot believe this series survived this season, or even this episode. I mean, I really cannot believe it. I'm flabbergasted. Why would these talented actors sign on for this abuse?

But, then, I'm also oddly relieved, in a way. Evidently, there are jobs out there for low-brow talent, even if it's just reducing the impressive work of others for a quick buck. Or maybe dime, in this case. Or nickel.

February 28 2012 at 12:03 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Lisa - I feel bad for Shane, too. Nancy's bad mothering is one thing about the show that bugs me. She used to be better at it.

June 29 2009 at 2:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I have not yet seen Season 4 of Weeds and from everything I hear, I don't want to. Seasons 1 and 2 are great. Season 3 was so-so. Taking the show to a whole new, darker direction (especially without Helia/Conrad) is a stupid move. Nancy is a difficult character to like. She's a horrible mother (I feel for Shane most of all) and overall an awful person. I'm surprised the show has been picked up for more seasons. It's done.

June 29 2009 at 12:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The first season of Weeds was amusing and entertaining, and I fell in love with the stories and characters (with the exception of the mediocre acting by Elizabeth Perkins, who has always been terrible).

The second season started well, but you could see the trouble coming. But the season ended, and I hoped that the third season would end up ok.

Then something went to Jenji Kohan's head and she decided to take the show in "another direction." Anytime a producer wants to take the show in "another direction," it means disaster for fans of that show (e.g. Lost, Sopranos, etc.). She got rid of the two funniest characters on the show, Heylia and Conrad, and torched the entire town... literally. It ended in a mess and none of the stories were funny. None.

This season is still a mess, and Nancy is still running around without a clue. Celia Hodes is still not funny, the other characters are as deadpan as a corpse, and there is no point to any of the stories. None.

It boggles my mind that anyone watching the last three seasons would ever consider them funny. If people consider this crap as hilarious, I'm truly worried for our planet.

Jenji Kohan should have been fired for ruining this show.

June 28 2009 at 10:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Can't stand the new season of 'Weeds'. It's not so much that it changed, which many shows have done with more or less success. I respect that the show took some turns (and some chances)... I really do.

The problem is what it changed into isn't even remotely as good or interesting as where it started. So props for trying, but Epic Fail for execution.

June 28 2009 at 8:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Omar Little

Season 4 was pure garbage. They tried to turn the show into something different, when the old version was working just fine. Too dark, too serious, not enough humor. Most of the dramatic stories are just laughable in the way they're executed compared to other shows. I often times found myself simply rolling my eyes at whatever danger Nancy found herself in next. So far S5 isn't any better, and I'm not to sure why I continue to watch this show.

June 28 2009 at 5:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Tim Wilkins

I still love 'weeds.' Yes, the show switched it up, but I think that's genius on its part. I miss the old characters that were part of that, but that's life. People move on. As for how Nancy used to be, I'd love to see that ep. As you said, I think the Nancy we are seeing was inside all the time. lol Circumstances and life change. . . it's nice to see that reflected in characters that are 'real' instead of 'reel.' Check out my podcasts at :http://tvtimepodcast.com/ Tim

June 28 2009 at 4:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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