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copyright 1999-2005

tv talk: smokin': weeds
by Yee-Fan Sun
1 2
continued from page 2

A big part of the credit for this goes to the actors; like so many premium cable TV shows, Weeds features some very talented performers. Mary Louise Parker as Nancy and Elizabeth Perkins as Celia are particularly beautifully cast. Physically, the two look a lot alike, which makes for a funny dig on how suburbia tends to encourage conformity. Their superficial likeness also makes it particularly interesting to watch how differently these two actresses use their faces and bodies to convey emotion. With Parker, her face always seems wide open; there's something about her big brown vulnerable eyes that always makes her look like she's on the verge of falling apart, working every last bit of her inner reserve to maintain that deadpan cool half-smile, willing herself to be tougher. Perkins, on the other hand, doesn't let her steely-cold eyes give anything away. You see her emotions in a twitch of the jaw or the set of her shoulders, the way she crosses her arms around her too-low-cut top. 

Both actresses make their characters among the more interesting, complex females on TV today, deeply flawed and likable and strong. Their presence on Weeds would probably be enough to keep me watching the show, but Parker and Perkins are lucky enough to be surrounded by a cast that's just as good, from Justin Kirk as Nancy's sleazy-charismatic loser of a brother-in-law, who brings a lot of the funny to the show, to Alexander Gould as Nancy's younger son Shane, who's freaky and sad and so not your stereotypical cute kid. In Weeds, all the main characters remind you of real people you've met before; no matter how outrageous the behavior, the show never lets them turn into caricatures.

So we end up shaking our heads at their petty actions and laughing at the hypocrisies of these supposed liberals who have such narrow-minded views of the world. At the same time, each episode reveals a little more about the real people that lie behind the picture-perfect masks they put on to the outside world, and it becomes more and more impossible not to see at least a little of yourself in even the most wretched of characters. In fact, just about the only bad thing I can say about Weeds is that its half-hour sitcom format (devoid of laugh track, thank God) feels far too brief. That little taste always leaves me itching for more.

Weeds airs Mondays at 10pm on Showtime.


more recent tv talk: 
out of this world: veronica mars 

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