The fourth season of Weeds received a slap in the face last week in the form of a blog posting over at the San Francisco Bay Guardian that proclaimed the show has "pretty much sucked."
We’d like to disagree but saying Weeds has "sucked" is being kind. The once vibrant, funny and sharply written show, a lovely oasis in the summer doldrums of television, has devolved into the worst kind of program: homework viewing. We only watch because we have to, and we have to because we’ve put in three years! But no one likes doing homework.
Season four comes to a merciful close this evening at 10PM on Showtime and we’re excited, if only because we’ll finally have an open slot in our cluttered DVR. And to think, we thought the third season was bad! The fourth season has reeked like Manhattan in August. Everything that was once charming is now grating, once clever, now contrived. This season has been an incomprehensible mess of hot-button issues (illegal immigration, euthanasia, sex trade, hallucinogenic drug use, the crushing nature of McJobs, interventions, drug running) none of them handled properly or even well.
Show creator Jenji Kohan, channeling her inner Willie Randolph circa September 2007, has to take the full blame for this collapse. She shifted the focus away from what made the earlier seasons so enjoyable; the ennui of suburban life was always more interesting than Nancy Botwin’s drug dealing (Mary-Louise Parker, still shining brightly amidst the trash). Ms. Kohan though seems unaware of this fact, moving Nancy away from her cul-de-sac and into the rough and tumble world of drug trafficking. On the Mexican border. Yeah, we’re serious.
How desperate has Weeds gotten? Earlier this season, for the first time in show history, the lovely Ms. Parker finally took her top off. On the list of things done to revive a dying television show, "star nudity" has to rank only slightly ahead of "adding a child actor."
Almost irrationally, Showtime picked up two more seasons of Weeds, which at this point feels like a cruel threat more than anything else. But that’s for us to worry about next summer. Thankfully, after tonight, we won’t have to do any more homework until 2009.