The Life & Times of an Auteur.

Commentary on Pop Culture, and maybe creating some of my own.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

A Rare Case of Professional Jealousy



Okay, I absolutely love "Weeds." I am addicted to this series. I am a stoner for this show. I don't think I can stretch this metaphor any further without making you all groan, so I will stop.

I am also very, very jealous of this show, and Jendji Kohan, who I think is absolutely brilliant. Why? Because this is very much a show that I would have created. It is full of tropes I love, and it deals with a lot of issues that interest me and hit close to home for me. No, I am not a stoner, I don't deal drugs, and no one in my family does... as far as I know. But, it's the little things which I will get to in a moment.

Strong female protagonists interest me. All my life, I have been lucky to be surrounded by strong, independent, and talented women. None of them are superwomen, they make just as many mistakes as any man does. Nancy Botwin (Mary Louise Parker), depending on how you look at her, is strong, independent and talented. She also makes a lot of mistakes, to put it mildly. She sometimes reminds me of a woman I care for, although the woman in question is most definitely not a pot dealer, or involved in any illegal activity.

Some more of the personal things that appeal to me, the two sons are culturally mixed. Jewish father, and gentile mother. Along with some of the, ahem, prejudices from the older Jewish side towards the shiksa. There was a lot of that in my family towards my Brazillian Catholic mother from my Jewish father's family. I'm not going to get into the specifics, but it's still there. I also tend to think that the late Judah Botwin was a better

I spent my childhood in Briarcliff Manor, which is rich/upper middle class white suburbia on steroids. So, I appreciated the town of Agrestic and what Kohan was mocking with it, at least in the first three seasons. These towns are filled with nothing but smiling, backstabbing phonies and friends of convenience. "Weeds" nailed the suburban culture to a tee. And I hate suburban life, so it's nice to see it properly displayed and given the crap it deserves.

And, on an even more personal note. I've had a weight problem most of my life. I'm not obese or anything, but I've been heavier than I should be. It comes and goes, I lose and then I gain it back. It's tough. Some family members, while well meaning, haven't exactly been as helpful as they think they are. I'm not saying they treat me the way the character of Celia Hodes treats her overweight daughter, Isabelle, but I can relate. And I find it all hilarious anyway. But, I think we've all known Celia Hodes at some point in our lives, for me she was the mother of a childhood friend.

Also, criminality interests me. It always has, as a subject. I will admit, there is a family background in that life, nothing that ever involved me personally, and nothing that has been an issue in twenty years or more, but I am not getting into that. Suffice it to say that as the series progresses, Nancy Botwin ends up getting deeper and deeper into the underworld. She starts out as an upper class suburban widow trying to make ends meet by selling pot to her white, middle class friends, and ends up... well, that would be telling. And as a long time lover of gangster movies and "The Sopranos," I found this stuff fun and interesting.

A lot of it, from the dramatic and dark to the funny and absurd often feels like my thought processes on screen. I cannot quite explain it, it's just this personal feeling when a work of art really speaks to you. I love how it can be laugh out loud funny one moment, and dark and dangerous the next. I love that juxtaposition, love it. I don't know if I'm talented enough to ever pull it off to this degree, but I love it.

I also love that the show changes, the characters change, the situation and settings change. I know some dislike that sort of thing, but when life is in a constant state of flux anyway, I like it when TV doesn't have permanent status quos. So, yes, I have enjoyed all six seasons of "Weeds" and I eagerly await the seventh season. Is it the final season? Not sure, but I have a feeling it is.

So yeah, I am very professionally jealous of this series. Both because it was the show I would have made, if given the chance, and because Jenji Kohan did a better job than I ever could with it.

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