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Showtime's Weeds

After spending nearly nine hours during the past two weeks watching 18 episodes of Showtime’s Weeds, I’ve decided that unless you think living amongst zombies is fun, the show makes a strong case against the legalization of marijuana.

Until now I had never watched the show, but there is so much interest on this blog about the pros and cons of legalizing pot, I thought I would look more carefully at one of the cultural paeans to the stoner world. Thanks to Netflix streaming technology, I was able to watch two or three episodes a night. I started with Season 4 and made it about halfway through Season 5 before giving up in disgust.

Usually these long-running series count on getting viewers to identify with or at least find compellingly interesting at least one of the main characters. In my case, not a single character in Weeds was likable. Perhaps the brief appearance of Albert Brooks was an exception. Otherwise I would not want to live nearby or even have a conversation with any of these people. There were a few mostly lame, almost humorous comments that got my attention. . .but I can’t remember a single one.

The worst is the supposed heroine of the story — Nancy as played by Mary Louise Parker. This woman is positively creepy. Watching Parker act is like watching hair gel trying to move across the kitchen counter.  Her basic technique seems to be to count to two before showing any reaction, physical or emotional, to what is happening around her. If she puts her hand on a hot stove, she’ll keep it there for at least two seconds before pulling it away and meekly whispering, “Ouch!” Patience, hard thing! I am guessing that people who have lobotomies act something like this. Sorry, but Parker is neither sexy, intriguing, interesting, or even likable.

In the 18 episodes I watched there were numerous annoying gimmicks employed to keep the story moving — or to rescue characters from an implausible situation. In one case, Andy, who has shown little or no backbone at all, somehow manages to pull out a gun and shoot a “coyote” in the knee. Two other blatant plot gimmicks: Parker just happens to have an ultra-sound photo of her baby when her gangster boyfriend shows an incriminating photo of her talking with a cop. The worst gimmick is the sudden appearance of a mysterious woman at the gangster’s home, which then leads him to call off his marriage to Parker. How convenient!

Several times during my two-week Weeds orgy, I tried to keep myself from watching any more shows. Curiosity got the better of me. Mostly I wanted to see if the show got any better and the characters any more likable. It didn’t, and they didn’t. Ultimately, my reaction to Weeds evolved into a physical revulsion whenever I thought of watching it again. I suppose that aversive behavioral modification programs work something like that — see the unconditional response stimulus and get sick.

So, if I think the show stinks, do I think legalizing marijuana is a bad idea? For most people who have never smoked pot and then watched Weeds, I think the normal reaction would be to oppose legalization. It’s a pretty sick, unattractive portrait of the stoner world. Personally I still think pot should be legal — and controlled, and taxed. All the other caveats about DUI etc. should apply, as well as age limits. My own ancient recollection of smoking pot is that one is either stoned or not stoned. There is very little middle ground, unlike having a beer or a glass of wine.

Want to smoke marijuana legally? Fine. But expect it to be controlled, taxed. And expect pretty serious constraints on what you can and cannot legally do when you are using. I think that’s a fair trade-off.

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