If you find this funny, Mary Jane’s to blame

Weeds 11pm, Nine

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Tv -

IN the US, some­one has coined a new word to de­scribe pro­grams such as Weeds : dram­edy. This is not Ge­orge W. Bush try­ing to de­scribe a one­humped camel but one of those trendy ad­ver­tis­ing agency words used to de­scribe what sen­si­ble peo­ple think of as black com­edy.

It is also an area where Amer­i­cans, of­ten re­garded as be­ing de­void of a sense of irony, can do sur­pris­ingly well. Cer­tainly that seems to be the case here, al­though one sus­pects the creators and writ­ers of this show, about a widow who de­cides to grow mar­i­juana af­ter the death of her hus­band, may be do­ing a fair bit of what may char­i­ta­bly be termed mar­ket re­search.

There is a manic edgi­ness to Weeds that sug­gests not ev­ery­one in­volved is com­pletely in their right mind. It is also not an easy pro­gram for the unini­ti­ated to come to grips with, if they sud­denly turn up in the up­mar­ket Cal­i­for­nian sub­urb of Agrestic well into se­ries two.

The com­pli­cated re­la­tion­ships started to make more sense at the end of this 30- minute episode, but there was no shame in a quick trip to the in­ter­net to find out ex­actly who was do­ing what to whom. At the cen­tre of the may­hem is Mary- Louise Parker, whose wide- eyed stare made her ap­pear per­ma­nently stoned even in The West Wing.

Parker is well cast as Nancy Botwin, the hap­less widow who turns to hor­ti­cul­ture to main­tain the up­per­class lifestyle to which she and her two sons have be­come ac­cus­tomed.

She is the fo­cal point of a bizarre web that in­cludes a hus­band in the Drug En­force­ment Agency, a brother- in- law who is try­ing to avoid mil­i­tary ser­vice by study­ing to be a rabbi and a per­pet­u­ally stoned busi- ness ad­viser. Al­though they ap­par­ently first set up op­er­a­tions in a bak­ery, Botwin and her col­leagues have re­lo­cated to a grow house. But it is not the only such fa­cil­ity in the area: there are four oth­ers owned by an Ar­me­nian car­tel that has yet to em­brace the Amer­i­can tra­di­tion of a free mar­ket.

This com­pet­i­tive chal­lenge and Botwin’s con­vo­luted re­la­tion­ships are at the cen­tre of tonight’s episode. It opens with Botwin forc­ing her elder son’s deaf girl­friend to take mul­ti­ple home preg­nancy tests as she asks the su­per­flu­ous ques­tion no par­ent can re­sist: How did it hap­pen? The girl an­swers that it was prob­a­bly three weeks ago when they did it dog­gi­estyle. From there, ev­ery­thing goes down­hill in a ma­ni­a­cal fash­ion.

Those of us who no longer par­take of il­licit herbal reme­dies can tes­tify that you don’t have to be wasted to en­joy Weeds. But it prob­a­bly helps.

Steve Creedy

High time: Parker as Nancy, right, with El­iz­a­beth Perkins as her friend Celia

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