Poor Mary-Louise Parker. Our favorite straw-chewing, iced coffee-drinking actress is officially wasting her time on Weeds. The fifth season premiere of the once-great Showtime series aired last night, and, for those of you hoping it would be a return to form, we’ve got some bad news: It wasn’t. Alternatively both unfunny and non-dramatic, Weeds is the rarest of television creations in that it appears to be a series vastly in need of a reboot. No, we’re not talking about a jump through time, a la Desperate Housewives (though truthfully that would be a start); we’re talking about tearing the story down and beginning from square one.
Of course the cast can stick around: Between Ms. Parker, Justin Kirk, Kevin Nealon, Demián Bichir and Elizabeth Perkins, Weeds is the proud owner of a great group of actors, something that makes its sheer awfulness that much more frustrating. These are all talented people! And yet, because of amateurish writing and plotting, the series is floundering. As if you couldn’t tell, our blame for this rests with creator Jenji Kohan, the one show runner who can make Shonda Rhimes seem like a genius of the medium. Ms. Kohan continually goes for the obvious joke in her scripting, and, worse, seems to have no idea how to structure a narrative. For the second time in four seasons, Weeds ended one season on a contrived cliffhanger and then immediately started the next season at the moment of said cliff. How many times do we need to see this on television series’ before we realize it just doesn’t work? And that Weeds has done it twice is borderline criminal! This time around the decision has created problems both slight (Alexander Gould, who plays Shane, looks like he’s aged two years even though, in theory, not a day has passed since last season) and serious; not to be picky, but, uh, shouldn’t the cops still be talking to Nancy about the massive drug running operation that was occurring inside her store?
Since we’re inclined to classify Weeds as “totaled,” let us fantasize about how much better it would be if the show started over: Nancy could still deal pot to suburbia, the kids could still be reckless, Andy could still be Andy. And we wouldn’t have to worry about ridiculous drug cartels and/or kidnappings. When the series started, the whole point of Weeds was to show how far a person would go in times of economic hardships for their family. Now, with people actually facing those issues in real life, the series has become something else entirely. A course correction can’t fix something this broken; it needs a full-blown demolition.