For today's edition of my Binge on This series, I would like to present a show about a good upstanding citizen who turns to selling controlled substances due to financial dire straights. This description would make most of us recall the very popular TV series Breaking Bad, where a high school science teacher breaks into the amphetamine business to finance his cancer treatment. (And no, since this show is so well known, I don't feel like writing a review for it.) There is however a very similar series, which I enjoyed a lot more: Weeds. It was aired on Showtime between 2005 and 2012.
Cannabis Instead of Amphetamines
The difference between the two shows is just like their respective substances: While Breaking Bad is fast-paced, high-wired, and ecstatic, it is also just full of ugly, horrible, and disgusting things, kinda like the drug actually. I never tried it myself, but the series did a great job transmitting the feel of it. Weeds on the other hand has a silly, goofy, highly humorous, and slightly surreal impression about it, making you feel very much like cannabis, even if you don't happen to be smoking it yourself.
Simple Plot With Lots of Twists
In a way, the starting situation is not that different from Breaking Bad: A suburban upper-middle class housewife takes up selling marijuana (at that time still illegal) to continue supporting her family after the death of her provider husband. Is this enough to fill an entire TV series? Most certainly, if you include sufficient, otherwise mundane circumstances, that add to the already weird setting: a couple of kids in their early and late teens, an eccentric brother-in-law, some typical, more or less relatable neighbors to illustrate suburban culture, and of course a good amount of love affairs and business connections, to highlight the colorful world of the cannabis trade.
Spanning Various Decades
While the first seasons of Weeds are set "in the present", following the time-frame of a year each, the later seasons progress much faster, reaching into the future, beyond the legalization and social acceptability of recreational cannabis consume. This gives the series a great amount of flexibility, including a number of marriages, deaths, cross-border stories, and coming of age issues for the protagonist's children. There is also a good amount of tangle with organized crime and law enforcement, however as serious as all this may sound, it is always presented in a light-hearted way, making you laugh rather than cringe.
So if you enjoyed Breaking Bad but would have liked it a bit less severe and maybe a bit funny, Weeds is the show I can recommend. I just found out, they're thinking about a sequel series to be made soon, called Weeds 4.20 and supposed to take place ten years after the end of the original series. I'm certainly looking forward to it. In the meantime, here is a trailer of the original Weeds: