So earlier in the week Gothamist got our hands on the first five episodes of Showtime's new show "Weeds" (which has a sneak-peak tonight at 11) and our first reaction was... pretty good. While the show has lots of problems and an often uneven tone, its heart is in the right place and after the pilot it quickly starts to pull itself together.
The premise of the show is simple: Mary-Louise Parker is a suburban housewife in California whose husband has suddenly dropped dead. In order to pay her bills and the nanny she takes on the job of dealing dope to her neighbors (you might remember this plot from the movie "Saving Grace"). The rest of the setup is similarly unoriginal. Parker has two sons, one in elementary and one in high school, who have typical young-male story lines that feel like a mixture between "Nip/Tuck" and "Once and Again." Elizabeth Perkins plays Parker's frenemy down the road who runs the PTA and wishes she could be as bitchy as Julie Cooper. To top it off Parker buys her drugs from a, at first glaringly stereotyped, inner-city black family who just happen to provide her with the courage and conviction to raise her kids right (and sell more pot).
For the first two episodes the show seems unsure if it wants to be a good situation comedy or if it wants to be a "Desperate Housewives/American Beauty"-style series of caricatures (the awesome credits set to the classic Malvina Reynolds song "Little Boxes" does little to settle this confusion). The pilot especially suffers from one too many attacks on suburbanites back to back with unnecessary racial stereotypes. Which is why it is so surprising that the show manages to overcome many of its problems. By the third episode the stereotypes are way toned down, and the acting is nearly pitch-perfect (even Kevin Nealon, as Parker's stoner accountant, hits his mark for nearly every line).
The final verdict? If you've got Showtime and aren't doing anything, take a look. If you like the pilot, we can assure you that it does get better (with the exception of Kevin Nealon's drug dealing son, who is set up to be an interesting character and inexplicably doesn't come back). Otherwise, you can always wait for the DVD, this show looks like it'll be around for awhile.