Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Weeds - Season 7

I've managed to enjoy Weeds since it left suburban California a few years ago more than many people, but I could tell that my patience for it was running thin when I could barely even enjoy the episodes this season that other people said were actually pretty good. It's hard to say what it is that turned me against the show,  because it's pretty much what it was last year. The Botwins are more centrally confined to one location, as they all go to New York once Nancy is let out of prison and put in a halfway house there (a few years after last season ended). But it felt similar to me, like how the Agrestic seasons and then the Ren Mar seasons felt like discrete parts of a larger story. Still something was missing, or wrong. I didn't care about the plot anymore. When the show ignored its plot, I couldn't laugh at any of the jokes. None of the new characters were interesting, and none of the old characters were capable of surprising me anymore. The show was stuck in a rut, and the news that they weren't really planning on making it the final season, even though they had hinted at that previously, really drained a lot of the hope out of me.

There's a difference between a show that can last a long time and a show that can't, and unfortunately Showtime doesn't seem to realize this. Weeds was finishing its seventh season right as Its Always Sunny in Philadelphia was beginning its seventh, and though I'm bored to death of the former, I love the latter as much as ever. The difference is that Weeds is trying to tell a story, and Sunny just wants to be funny. Most stories don't stay interesting after seven years, especially when it's the kind of story with a plot that seems naturally inclined to end in half that time. A suburban mom turning to selling weed to make ends meet just doesn't sound like something that could end up taking nearly a decade to fully play out. Why does she continue to deal drugs, even though the authorities know about her now and it's clearly a practice that has not brought her sustained success in the past? Why do her sons and brother-in-law and Doug of all people stick around her when she's clearly a terrible influence in their lives? Because dealing drugs is what the show is about, and because these are the main characters, and it's easier to write a show when the cast stays together. Nothing about the show feels real anymore, especially when the attempts at broader comedy get more and more out of sync with the general mood. It's Always Sunny could probably get away with a scene where Muslims who are supposed to be shipping weed to America accidentally blow themselves up. A show about a woman who was recently released from jail after her husband was murdered trying to get custody of her son cannot.

And so the show isn't really funny when it tries to be, and the story doesn't work because I don't believe in these characters anymore. It doesn't help that all of the new subplots this year end up being basically meaningless. Nancy's supposed to have to worry about her parole and the conditions of her release, but that turns out to be a lot of nothing before it's swept aside. New dealers and suppliers pop up that the family has to deal with, but they're all pretty much gone by the end. A potentially devastating schism in the family is thrown out the window with a silly last-minute solution. And then the terrible cliffhanger, easily one of the laziest things I've seen a show do to try to keep its audience hooked. The craziest part is that I'm not even sure I won't watch season eight, if they end up making it. But that's mostly just because seven seems like a silly number to quit something on.

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