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Weeds: "Suck 'n' Spit"

Illustration for article titled Weeds: "Suck 'n' Spit"
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My wife has never been exposed to Weeds before this season. I think she’s seen an episode here and there, but whatever she saw didn’t impress her enough to continue, I guess. She’s been following this season with me for the most part, but she had to leave during the scene where Nancy kept forcing Andy to take care of the baby throughout the middle of the night, not once getting up to help herself. So all-encompassing has my wife’s hatred of Nancy Botwin become that she can’t even be in the same room as her. When I told her the episode ended with one of Nancy’s kids getting shot, she said, “Good.” Pretty sure that’s not what the show was going for.

I don’t share my wife’s hatred (a hatred much of the fanbase seems to share if cursory scans of a number of forums are any indication), but I can see where it’s coming from. Weeds has been working so hard to make Nancy such a venal and self-obsessed character for so long that it’s hard to work up a lot of affection for her when the show does something like shoot Shane in the arm. Obviously one of the major moral points of the show is the way that Nancy’s choices have been visited on her children, how her decision to get into drug dealing has corrupted them just as much as it’s corrupted her. And, yes, it would be sad if Shane were to die, considering he’s one of the few characters left on the show who still seems somewhat redeemable. But by focusing so much of the grief over how the gunman aiming for Nancy (or Esteban, I guess) actually hit Shane on Nancy’s face, the show just keeps hitting us in the face with Nancy’s realization that her criminal shenanigans have had, omg, repercussions.

Anyway, most of this episode was about how Nancy and Andy are settling in with the baby and all that good stuff. The baby, as babies do, continually demands to be fed or cleaned or … I don’t know, baby things, and Nancy is tiring of her obligations, instead insisting that Andy agree to take care of the fake kid she foisted on him. While I get that the show is trying to make me think that Andy so wants something in his life to bring him maturity (and/or is so hung up on Nancy that he’ll do whatever she wants), I’m not terribly sure I buy that he would saddle himself with the legal and moral burdens of having a kid, particularly the child of a dangerous drug lord, just to satisfy his own personal whims. Then again, the characters on this show have done stupider things to satisfy their own personal whims, so what do I know? But it sure is tough on ol’ Andy! He can’t even find the time to masturbate, so he has to do it in bed, while Nancy’s trying to sleep.

So the baby is turning into more of a pain than Andy thought he would be (I guess Andy imagined having a fake son would be all fun and games). This is too bad. There was genuine dramatic potential in the storyline of a man who’s never been serious about anything forcing himself to be serious about something that he really had no good reason to be serious about (and, indeed, could very well be putting himself in danger for being serious about). Instead, this mostly dissolves into a long series of good, old-fashioned “It’s hard to take care of a baby!” jokes, which culminate in a scene where Andy and Nancy sit, sipping drinks and talking about parenting, that’s actually pretty well-written until Nancy goes into the bathroom, tries to pump her breast milk, fails and has to recruit Andy to suckle her to get her started. This image, I think, is trying to conflate both Andy’s erotic feelings toward Nancy and the fact that she’s an ersatz mother to him at the same time, but it mostly just comes off as making one think that Nancy is an awful, horrible, terrible person (the theme of the episode, apparently). It’s not transgressive just because it thinks it is.

Celia and Dean continued their drug-dealing hijinks, as the latter tried to tell Silas and Doug that he’d had all of the marijuana from the evidence locker stolen and received a punch in the nose and the former began giving away free gifts with her cosmetics sales for You’re Pretty. Doug, seeing how much money she was making, decided to get in on that and showed up at a You’re Pretty meeting. As with a lot of Celia plotlines, this one seems, now, like it will have some potential, as disconnected from the rest of the story as it is, especially since Kevin Nealon and Elizabeth Perkins are always a fun pair, but here’s where I’ll insert my boilerplate rant about how disconnected everything on this show that isn’t the Nancy A-plot feels from the Nancy A-plot.

Esteban, meanwhile, is still working through his feelings for Nancy (and I’m kind of starting to think this is a show about how she torments all of the people in her life to get her way, and if that were made even more explicit, I might kind of love it), and after a lengthy discussion in Spanish about how upset he is that his son is being raised as a Jew, he figures out that, yes, he really loves Nancy. So, for what seems like the umpteenth time, he races to her side to tell her that he loves her, that he wants to be with her. I don’t really have a horse in the great Esteban vs. Andy race of Weeds season five, but the fact that one of the two is in the main cast while the other is just a guest player suggests very handily which will win (though I suppose Nancy’s inertia could always win out). At this point, the constant back and forth of the Nancy and Esteban pairing (after two seasons of it!) is just tiresome.

Also, Shane thought he had chlamydia, but he had a yeast infection. Then he got shot in the arm, and it was potentially sad.

Watching Weeds every week, I’m more and more forced to consider how the show is about awful people doing awful things to each other (and more power to it!), but it seems to lack the wherewithal to confront those awful things openly and directly. For a long time, it was easy to write this off as just the problems of trying to do a funny comedy (and Weeds can be screamingly funny) about a very serious subject. But now that the show shares an hour with the not perfect but really well done Nurse Jackie, it becomes ever more apparent that there is a way to do a show about awful people doing awful things to each other (as Jackie does to seemingly everyone in her life) and have it be winning and funny and, above all, humanistic. Nurse Jackie is an open show that seems to love all of its characters. Weeds is a deeply problematic one that seems to hate everyone involved in it. I keep watching because Mary-Louise Parker’s performance is so legitimately great, but there’s only so much even she can do with some of this. But now Shane’s injured. C’mon, Weeds! Show us you care!

Grade: C

Stray observations:

  • God, I seem like a scold. I did used to genuinely enjoy this show and for more things than Parker’s performance. I still maintain that this season is better than last season, but a lot’s riding on how they wrap this all up.
  • “It might be nothing.” “Or it might be chlamydia.”

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