S07E04 Comparing Weeds and Breaking Bad is nothing new. The comparisons are obvious right from the elevator pitch: a down-on-their-luck suburbanite turns to the drug world to make ends meet. But this week’s episode of both shows made me realize how far the void has become between the two of them. Breaking Bad is widely considered the greatest show on television (perhaps ever) while the only praise Weeds has gotten lately is “hey, it’s not as bad as it was a few seasons ago!”
Why though? I think it all comes down to motivation. For seven years now we’ve watched Nancy Botwin slowly turn from a suburban housewife into a bona fide criminal drug dealer. For the past four years we’ve seen Walt White transform from a high school chemistry teacher to a full on gangster. Excluding other factors like production value, supporting actors, writing, and cable vs premium chanels, Walt’s story is just more engaging because his motivation is more enjoyable to watch. Why does Nancy do what she does? Why does she immediately jump back into the weed game three years after being locked up? So she can fund her kid’s preschool bill? That’s all we get? At least with Walt we see his transformation into a master. We understand that he does what he does because he likes the power, he has an addiction, and he still has nothing to lose thanks to his cancer. But Nancy? While I do think she likes the power (she is still a master manipulator) I just don’t understand why she would continuously drag her family and friends through all of this.
She still makes some fairly interesting television though and in the end, that’s all that matters.
And perhaps Nancy does what she does because that’s what her family is good at doing. By the end of the episode, Silas proves himself a fantastic weed salesman, Shane successfully scams the student loan system, and Nancy clears out a territory to deal. It's fairly impressive for an iced coffee enthusiast. Nancy also manages to take care of that half-way house requirement of finding a job by forcing herself in at Doug’s new job (who took to steroids to help in company softball and as a result shrank and straightened his penis). For a show that moves oh-so slowly a fair bit of stuff happened.
"The Steward Havens Trapper Keeper of Broken Dreams" -Steward Haven
We also had a fairly strong bit from the season’s guest stars. We got our first look at Aidan Quinn as the CEO of the company and SHOCKER another man in a position of power is taken with Nancy. Lindsay Sloane’s Maxine turns out to already have a husband which kind of throws Andy off. But after a heartfelt confession that he has cancer and only wants the best for his wife, Andy goes right back to the Popsicle cunnilingus. I’ve also found it funny that Andy, the only member of the family who has a history of dealing in the drug world, is the only one left out of the new family business. And we also got our first look at Martin Short, Nancy’s pro bono lawyer. Funny, definitely, but a bit one-note. There were a ton of guest stars and plots to get through however, so he'll probably get fleshed out in the weeks to come.
Speaking of things I hope don’t get fleshed out, holy hell where did that Afghanistan scene come from? I know it was an attempt to be funny, but it didn’t work for me. And not in some it’s-politically-incorrect-to-depict-the-people-of-Afghanistan-like-that way, but it was so broad and so random and so out of left field. But I appreciate them taking the risk and maybe the next one will hit a little stronger.
So Weeds managed to keep me on for another week but who knows how long that’ll keep up. Again maybe it’s just Mary-Louise Parker’s devilish smile that keeps me coming back. In fact, I know that’s a category that Weeds always trumps Breaking Bad: I’d much rather see Parker naked than Bryan Cranston. But that doesn’t always win you an Emmy (it should).