When Weeds premiered on Showtime in 2005, few people saw a hit in the offing. The show’s creator, Jenji Kohan, had won an Emmy for working on the Tracey Ullman HBO series Tracey Takes On…, but she was known mainly for being the kid sister of Will & Grace co-creator David Kohan. And the premise of the show – a widowed soccer mom turns to selling marijuana to support her family – seemed risky and weird. Even series star Mary-Louise Parker admits she told her agent at the time there was “no way” this show was going to run.
To everyone’s surprise, however, Weeds lit up the ratings, helping to cement Showtime’s growing reputation as a serious player in original programming and winning a Golden Globe Award for Parker, along with multiple other nominations for its cast and creative team. The saga of improbable drug kingpin (queenpin?) Nancy Botwin ran for eight seasons altogether before wrapping things up in September 2012.
Now, in time for the holiday gift season, Lionsgate Home Entertainment releases today Weeds: The Complete Collection, encompassing the entire series on 16 Blu-ray discs packed with special features in a boxed format that takes up just two inches of shelf space. The suggested retail price for the set is $119, but as of this writing, several online retailers including Amazon are carrying this new release at a heavy discount.
The first three seasons of Weeds took place in the Southern California suburb of Agrestic, a community of McMansions housing identical upwardly mobile families dressed in identical clothes and driving identical cars to shop in identical stores. As the series opened, Nancy’s placid middle-class life was rocked when her young husband, Judah, dropped dead of a heart attack while jogging. Lacking any marketable skills, Nancy turned to dealing pot to maintain this empty lifestyle, one of the satiric hooks on which Kohan hung her story. A number of fans complained when the Botwins went on the road starting in season four (which Kohan and two of her fellow producers acknowledge in one of the special features in the set), but Weeds returned to its suburban roots – this time in Connecticut – for its eighth and final season.
Each of the seasons included in this new Blu-ray collection includes its own set of special features including cast commentaries, gag reels and other highlights, but there are four brand-new extras as well, the most valuable being a Weeds cast roundtable with Parker, her two TV sons (Hunter Parrish and Alexander Gould) and Justin Kirk, who played Nancy’s brother-in-law, Andy. Gould, who was only 10 when he started working on Weeds, reveals that his mother, who was always on the set with him, and the show’s production team shielded the child actor from the show’s more adult moments, even when they involved his character, Shane. As a result, he didn’t understand what several scenes even meant until he started watching the show on DVD after he was older.
It’s Parker, however, who has some of the pithiest comments to offer. She loved playing Nancy, whom she calls “dark and perverse,” but suggests that this woman would have been a terrible mother even if her husband hadn’t died. In fact, she says, she suspects it was Judah, not Nancy, who was the more nurturing parent all along.
“I just thought she always had an astonishing lack of ability to prioritize,” Parker says about Nancy’s lackadaisical attitude toward her sons. “She was a parent who procrastinated: ‘I’m going to pay attention to him later when I can x, y and z,’ ” she says.
Technical quality of this Blu-ray box is state of the art in every respect, making this set one of the season’s top home video gift items for any Weeds fan on your list.