Weeds is a family show in the sense that heroin is a headache tablet.  Nancy, the main character, is a good mother in the same way that Vincent Van Gogh is the patron saint of plastic surgery.  Watching Weeds with your young children is a good decision in the same way that driving your car through the front wall is a good idea if you’ve lost your house keys.

Weeds is about drugs and sex and crime and quotidian dysfunction, bad decisions as an art form, and drugs and drugs and drugs.  It is also hilarious, a wonderful satire on the family values crowd, and probably as good an argument against the “war on drugs” as you’ll ever hear.  I doubt anyone could watch it and conclude that the prohibitions in place do anything other than create the narco state that is contemporary America.

I also doubt you could watch a better advertisement for never going near drugs again.  The whole show pivots on this wonderful paradox and along the way answers all your questions about how things would’ve turned out if you really did become the cool, hippie parent you used to imagine you would be.

It is the story of a woman whose husband has died and who has decided selling dope is a good way to support her family.  Over the course of five series (with a sixth due to air in August), she gets dragged deeper and deeper into the world of organised crime, drug running and various other class-A felonies and moral byways.

The main characters of the ensemble cast are horrible human beings who do horrible things in the sort of morally weak, permissive way conservatives have always warned us would happen if we watched programs like this.  And that’s just the kids.

The characters are played to the hilt by a great cast led by Mary-Louise Parker as the aforementioned Nancy.  As good as she is, though, I think I prefer Elizabeth Perkins who plays another catastrophe of a mother, Celia.

Celia’s relationship with her 12-year-old daughter, Isabelle — whom she constantly chides for being fat, rude and a e-sbian — is reportable, though Isabelle’s willingness to stand up for herself is kind of inspiring, if tragic.  Also good is Andy (Justin Kirk), Nancy’s brother-in-law, which also makes him the uncle of her two boys, a role he plays with inappropriate abandon, taking it upon himself to be the father they have lost and the father they should never have.

At half-an-hour per episode, the program is totally moreish: I swear, you will not be able to stop at one in a single sitting, and might even find yourself most of the way through an entire series in a single afternoon.  The series has got better, if more outlandish as it has gone along.  I mean, suspension of disbelief is the order of the day.  But once you do that, enjoy the ride.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey