My Abusive Relationships with Laura Linney and Mary Louise Parker
There’s no good reason to be watching “Weeds,” which wrapped up its sixth season last night. The occasional moment (or Brian Prisco sighting) notwithstanding, it hasn’t been a good show since Nancy abandoned Agrestic, leaving Conrad and Heylia behind. It used to be a fairly sharp satire on uptight suburban life. Now it’s a mess of unlikable characters moving from one place to another while continuing to make terrible decisions. Shane’s a sociopath. Silas is a gap filler. The primary vehicle for the suburban satire, Celia, is gone. So are Isabelle and Dean. I don’t even know what Doug Wilson is doing on the show anymore — he’s a background character who gets high, now he just gets high in different locations. And even after revising my perspective on Nancy — recognizing that she’s now the central villain of the show — I can’t get behind her character because, as selfish and unfit as she is as a parent, she does something every once in a while to suggest that she doesn’t want to be the villain. Indeed, Andy is the only decent character on the show, but even he’s driven by his affection for an unlovable woman. Andy deserves better, and at this point there’s no logical explanation besides delusion to explain why he continues to beck at her call.
Nothing happened in season six. It was essentially a road-trip season, which began after Shane killed Estaban’s chief of staff and ended — a long, grueling 13 episodes later — with Nancy choosing Plan C. There was no character growth. Shane is still psychotic. The best that can be said for Silas is that he found out Judah wasn’t his father, which was kind of a shitty thing to do to Judah after six seasons. Nancy can screw over even her dead husband. Doug? I don’t even know? What the fuck is he still doing on the show? And Andy, of course, still answers to Nancy. But hey! At least there was that filthy sex-scene in the bar with Zach Morris, which otherwise added nothing to the overall narrative. Honestly, they could’ve crammed the entire season into two episodes and saved us a lot of misery, as well as the thought of Richard Dreyfus diddling underage students.
And what was that Plan C? Call the cops, so that Nancy could turn herself in for the murder that Shane committed and save herself from gangland execution. Nevermind how painfully contrived the entire situation was, or the many ways in which it all could’ve been avoided. Shane and Andy were on a plane. Estaban had Silas, but they were in an airport. What could they have possibly done? It wouldn’t have been that difficult for Nancy, who already had the baby, to simply take Silas and get on the plane, leaving Esteban behind. Why turn yourself in? The DVD that Estaban had of Shane committing the murder couldn’t have hurt Shane in Europe. Estaban and Guillermo had been through airport security — they clearly had no weapons, and no real leverage. And while the finale gave Nancy a small opportunity to be selfless, it also gives her an easy way to undo it as soon as season 7 opens. She can pin it on Shane, who is already in Europe.
The entire season was a long, unsatisfying wash.
In a way, “The Big C” feels a little like starting a show in season four of “Weeds.” After the promising pilot, “The Big C” likewise devolved into a lot of reckless selfish behavior and a series of poor decisions and plot threads that spun off into nothing. Where’s Gabourey Sidibe now? I thought she was going to be a central character. Idris Elba added some much needed energy into the middle episodes, but he didn’t really bring much else besides a charming smile, a brilliant British accent, and an exit strategy for Sidibe. Meanwhile, Cathy’s impulsive, carpe diem attitude quickly gave way to self-involvement. And that damn kid, Adam, reminds me too much of Shane Botwin — a cold, unlikable teenager with sociopathic tendencies. Indeed, like Andy Botwin, Oliver Platt’s Paul is the best part of the show, and it’s sometimes not entirely clear why he’s fighting for a wife who doesn’t seem to have that much affection for him.
Still, the last couple of episodes have been a marked improvement over most of the rest of the season, starting with the shocking suicide of Marlene, though Rebecca’s pregnancy came a little too melodramatically quick on its heels. Marlene was another fantastic character in the series, and I’m going to miss her should I decide to pick the show up on season two. Sean, meanwhile, began as a decent character but quickly devolved into caricature — I don’t know whether fatherhood and home ownership will make him into a more or less grating character.
Yet, for all of “The Big C’s” faults, they did manage to pull out the sledgehammer and bludgeon us with it in the last five minutes of the season finale, taking a page out of My Life Without You playbook. If you weren’t weeping after Adam opened up the storage shed, you probably have a defect in your soul. That was powerful. Heavy-handed and manipulative, but powerful all the same. Nevertheless, five minutes of tear yanking hardly makes up for the unfocused, meandering nature of the rest of the season.
I’d like to say that I won’t revisit “The Big C” in its second season, but I’ve been saying the same thing about “Weeds” for three years now, and I even quit on “The Big C” mid-season, only to catch myself back up. Laura Linney and Mary Louise Parker are forces to hard too resist. Hell, maybe I do understand why Paul and Andy continue to cling to them, after all.