Friday, April 9, 2010


Sometime around December I got into what is called a funk. When in a funk, I typically goof off with the sort of dedication that Olympic athletes train. My latest athletic endeavor, before I began the climb back to something resembling responsible adulthood, was to watch all the episodes of Weeds on Netflix. First off, let me say that watching TV episodes on Netflix (especially on a laptop) is like eating from a package of Pepperidge Farm cookies. Specifically, both situations leave you with no choice but gluttony: the PF cookie bags force you to lift the little white card between baskets of cookies, thus forcing you to eat the next 3 cookies nested below, while Netflix forces you to watch the next episode by placing the arrow below the viewing screen that reads "more episodes." During my Weeds binge, I reflected on why the show was so addictive.
Weeds centers around a woman, Nancy Botwin (Mary Louise Parker) who does not really know how to take control of her life and thus keeps colliding into situations. She chooses a career that is morally void. Her life spins beyond her control, yet she just keeps bouncing right along. Nothing in her life has any center. The show has a buoyancy to it, but not a lightness. Nancy Botwin fucked up her kids whom she was trying to save, ruined her chances at a safe little (illegal) business and even destroyed her own hometown.
The critiques about how suburbia is fucked up are nothing innovative. However, to me they don't ring that true. People do have to work hard to buy those (not so) little boxes on the hillside. However, coming from a family of chaos and settling into an adult life of telesales craziness and nihilistic benign laziness, when I watch the show I escape into a world that mirrors my own (no I'm not selling pot). The world just...happens.
That is why I connect to the show and is probably why others do as well. Nancy Botwin's buoyant roll through the untreated sludgy waters of her pot-dealing life mirrors the life that most Americans have now taken on. Our 70% service economy delivers very few jobs with meaning and frankly most jobs in the last 10 years were built upon buying, refinancing and selling a dream that was built on nada. People are living in dazed denial. Unlike the protesting Europeans who take it out to the streets, but Americans mostly stay complacent. Rather than rallying together, we insulate ourselves into little microvillages of crazy. As Hillary Clinton says, "It Takes a Village." Jenji Kohan has built that little village on her show. And as we watch them forget their dreams, yet maintain their myths, we see the new American way.


  1. I understand that the iPad has an app that will allow me to watch movies from my NetFlix queue on an iPad, while lying in bed or on a beach.

    Now, that's one more reason to surrender to the temptation to get an iPad.

  2. 1 more thing.

    I don't like stereotypes about "The Suburbs" for the same reason I don't like stereotypes about "The Inner City" (i.e., "The Ghetto"). Writers have been playing that "City vs. Suburb" song for more than fifty years. For better or worse, contemporary American life is way more complicated than that in 2010.