Finished your Orange Is the New Black binge faster than you can say Pennsatucky? Then get couch locked, grab some munchies, and smoke through all eight seasons of Jenji Kohan goodness with Weeds.
Show’s like ‘OITNB’: Jenji Kohan’s had another masterpiece, ‘Weeds’
Being no stranger to TV (with a resume including The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Gilmore Girls, and Will & Grace), Jenji Kohan made her distinctive series debut with Showtime’s acclaimed series Weeds in 2005. I found the series nearly five seasons later thanks to the glorious (then new) genius of Netflix streaming.
Having both binged and watched running, I can easily say that like Orange Is the New Black, Weeds is best enjoyed as one long smoke sesh. The pace never slows and your affinity for the characters reaches a true family level as you grow to love the Botwins and their neighbors. Honestly, I’ve seen the series through three times and I still love it (currently on #4!).
The series begins in the faux model world of Agrestic, California deep in square suburbia hell. Nancy Botwin (Mary-Louise Parker) begins selling marijuana after her husband (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) tragically drops dead of a heart attack (while out for a jog with their youngest son Shane — Alexander Gould) to maintain their upper-middle class lifestyle.
With her stoner savvy network including her eldest son Silas (Hunter Parrish), brother in-law Andy (Justin Kirk) and trustee Doug (Kevin Nealon), Nancy grows her business as she navigates the world of weed with the help of experts Heylia (Tonye Patano) and Conrad James (Romany Malco). Nancy faces off with drug lords, DEA agents, the cartel, and her eccentric nosy neighbor Celia Hodes (Elizabeth Perkins) to protect her family at all costs.
What I really, really love about Weeds is Jenji Kohan’s truthful and illuminating social commentary surrounding marijuana, the war on drugs/system corruption, religion, social class, race, and feminism. Though storytelling can be entertaining, it’s far more valuable when it has something to say and Kohan’s original series is as loud as the bud Nancy sells. Though the series premiered almost 12 years ago (this August), the themes are more relevant now than ever. This distinguishing factor of Kohan’s work is exactly what fans of Orange Is the New Black will crave after the season 5 finale.
Before the series even begins, we get a preview of this with the opening credits:
They represent the harsh realities when everyone is considered “normal” in society aptly paired with Malvina Reynolds’ “Little Boxes” showing that it’s not only okay to be different, it’s necessary. The series changes the intros with the seasons but the message is ultimately the same: be authentic.
By simultaneously telling a family story, Kohan portrays the same message through the importance of allowing children room to grow (the Nancy approach) and make their own decisions as opposed to micro-managing them (the Celia approach), making the suburbs the perfect setting for the first two seasons. It also serves as the perfect metaphor for growing marijuana, as the plants also need room to grow in order to bloom their best buds.
The series couldn’t have a better Nancy with Mary-Louise Parker fearlessly leading the Botwins wherever Mary Jane takes them. Both she (2007, 2008, 2009) and Elizabeth Perkins (2006, 2007, 2009) were nominated for Emmys for their outstanding and honest performances as well a casting nomination for their brilliant cast members. By perfectly balancing family series, dark comedy, and social commentary, Jenji Kohan truly broke the glass ceiling of television with her unapologetic and essential series.
With guest stars galore (including Snoop Dogg, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Zooey Deschanel, Carrie Fisher, Bob Odenkirk, Jane Lynch, and much, much more), Weeds is an absolute must. You can now pack a spliff of the entire series on Netflix and puff each episode at your leisure.