After the third season of “Weeds,” when Nancy Botwin torched the city of Agrestic, and scorched the “Little Boxes” theme before moving to Ren Mar, I applauded the series for recognizing that it had cornered itself into a narrative corner and hitting the reset button. Doing it again only two seasons later, however, is just desperate. Reinventing yourself is one thing. but this is a television show, not Madonna’s career. You can’t just uproot the Botwin family every few years and start all over.
Or, maybe you can. Maybe season six will be the season that “Weeds” returns to its roots, that the dark comedy lightens up. Maybe it’ll try to stop selling Mary Louise Parker’s legs as a narrative device (they’re nice legs; don’t get me wrong. But how many times can you use them to get you out of trouble?) Maybe they’ll back away from the ridiculous notion that Nancy and Andy might end up together romantically. Maybe the comedy will veer away from the nihilistic. Maybe Nancy will redeem herself as a mother.
I wouldn’t put too much faith in it, though. We’ve been hoping for the same return to form for three seasons now, and they never seem to follow through on it. Granted, last season was significantly better than the third and fourth season; the characters are slightly less misanthropic, although Nancy’s parental neglect has had a profound affect on Shane, who is now a fucking murderer. But hey! In the season premiere, at least Nancy cared enough to split town with the kids before her husband and the father of her child, Esteban, had her and her family killed for killing his political consultant.
Unfortunately, it looks like the sixth season won’t be a complete redo: The first episode picks up after the murder, and only takes us as far as Nancy and Co. skipping town, with Andy in tow, after his fiancée (Alanis Morisette) dumped him for not showing the requisite chivalry in a kidnap and hostage situation. It seems clear, however, that Esteban and his henchmen will continue as background characters throughout the season, as they attempt to hunt Nancy and her child down, so we’ll continue to have to deal with them. At least until Shane kills Esteban. But, season six will give Nancy a fresh start in her career, and we’ll see how long it takes her to devolve into this mess she’s become again over the last five season.
Personally, I’m just weary of her nonchalance. Her oldest son, Silas, sleeps with a woman her age, and she shrugs it off. Her youngest son kills another woman (who maybe deserved it, but still), and she gets drunk, packs up the car — with only her things, of course — and moves the family so they can repeat the cycle again. Shane, meanwhile, shrugs it off, just as Nancy has shrugged off every death and near-death experience she’s had since her FBI boyfriend who shot and killed.
Indeed, “Weeds” is less a show about learning from your mistakes, and more about repeating them. And with every reinvention, the characters will probably find another way to repeat their same sins. Nancy is not a heroic mother trying to maintain her family’s lifestyle anymore. She’s not even an anti-hero that resorts to necessary ends to meet her means. She’s the show’s major villain, And the only way anyone is going to grow as a character on this show is to separate themselves from her and her behavior.
But she does have nice legs.