Mary-Louise Parker Discusses the End of Weeds
The Weeds star looks back on eight memorable years – and ponders whether she’ll smoke pot the night the finale airs.
This past week at the TCA (Television Critics Association) press tour, I was among a group of journalists who spoke to Parker, on the heels of the final Weeds panel.
She discussed saying goodbye to the series and her role in this past year on a show that both helped pave the way for Showtime to become a serious contender in scripted TV series and for many other recent series featuring against the grain, notable roles for women.
Question: When you began Weeds, were you eager to work in television?
Mary-Louise Parker: I was. I’d done The West Wing. That was the only other television I’d done, and I mostly only liked theater. I feel like movies, if there’s any kind of budget whatsoever, there’s so much sitting, and I really like to work. Otherwise my blood sugar just drops, you know, six hours sitting in a camper. I’d rather work. I’m there to work and collaborate. So movies, to me, are not my favorite.
Have you watched Weeds?
Question: You’ve worked with Justin [Kirk] a couple times now. What is it about the chemistry between you two? Why do you like it?
Parker: I just love him. I think he’s a completely underrated actor. I think he belies his own talent in a way because he works so hard, and he makes it look so easy. He comes to work to work, and he wants to do it — he’ll keep going.
Question: Do you have any tips for him as he goes on to lead his own show [Animal Practice] now?
Parker: Come back to me!
Question: Nancy seems to be having a very redemptive journey this season.
Parker: I feel like in the end it becomes more about the family, and the way that Jenji [Kohan] tied it together… I wasn’t expecting that as the finale at all, but I really love it.
Question: What kind of role will you be looking for in your next project?
Parker: I just had a meeting with one of the networks, and they just asked me what I wanted to do. I said, “I just want to do a TV show. I want to do it right now.” I’m just so sad about this ending, and I like controversy. I like things that are extreme. I’ve met with a few networks. I just like good writing. I’ll play anything, and that’s why when I did this I remember there were people who said to me, “You’re doing a show on Showtime? Why?” I just liked the part, and I liked Jenji’s writing. I would do it anywhere. I’ll play anything.
Question: How do you feel about Nancy now that the show’s over and you’ve seen the journey you guys have gone on together? Do you feel more connected to her, less connected to her?
Parker: I’ve always felt connected to her. It’s just that I feel like I cry at work every day. It’s hard. It’s eight years. It’s my son’s entire life.
Question: Is part of taking a new gig right away a little bit helping you through the grieving process?
Parker: Yes! Maybe. I haven’t found one yet, but I really want to. I was really sad that it ended, but things do have to end at some point. I’m still mad. My son said, “If I used all my allowance, would they do one more season?” “Honey, I don’t know. But here’s [Showtime president] David Nevins’ phone number.”
Question: Did he say that because you seemed sad?
Parker: He was sad. He said, “Are we still going to see Hunter [Parrish]?” Hunter comes to our house every Thanksgiving, and we’re very close.
Question: What will you do to the final night the show airs? Will you guys get stoned or drunk?
Parker: I’ve actually never smoked pot. I’ve done the thing that’s like a Listerine strip, you know, that you stick at the top of your [mouth] — I did that the night my father died because I honestly would have done anything. But I’ve never smoked it. I said, “Hunter, maybe we should, like, the last night…” Now, at the age of 48, I should start smoking pot. I’m going to be really sad, so I might do it.
Question: Do the fans of the show try to slip you some?
Parker: Oh, all the time. I went to go see the musical Fella on Broadway, and at the curtain call, somebody handed me a bag. I mean, I want to be gracious, so I just pass it along. You know, it’s nice.
Question: I imagine you have some very weird fans, playing such an extreme character.
Parker: It’s funny because then sometimes people look so conservative to me, and they say they love the show. I find that really surprising. But all sorts of people have seen it and respond to it. Former President Clinton told me that he liked it and watched it. I don’t know if the current president watches it. No other politicians, though.
Question: Do you feel like you’ve sort of opened the door for a new kind of female protagonist on television?
Parker: I think Jenji did by writing this character. If I’ve fulfilled it, then I hope so. It was one of the first ones like that. Then they started writing a lot of women that had deep problems and deep inner conflict. It’s more fun to play, but Jenji wrote it.
Question: A lot of actors cite you as a hero and a role model. Did you get that throughout the run of the show, a lot of actors saying, “You really showed me what an actor is capable of doing [on television]”?
Parker: Actors have always been incredibly kind to me, honestly. It means a lot to me, and I’m not somebody who’s willing to give themselves credit often, so I really appreciate a compliment from an actor. It’s really heartening to me. It fortifies me.
Question: When cult shows like this end, there’s always talk of a movie…
Parker: Jenji said she would do it, so I would do it if she would do it. I would do a spin-off. I would move it to another network. I’ll use my son’s allowance.
Question: What would a spin-off be like?
Parker: I don’t know! You could do a lot. We thought of one.. I don’t know, I can’t say it because I’d be giving away the end. But we did come up with one plot based on the finale. But I for sure would do a movie in a second.
Question: In a perfect world, how much longer would you have pushed the series?
Parker: I would have kept doing it until I couldn’t wear those cutoffs anymore. As long as everybody wanted to do it. I did a play on Broadway once for a year, and I stopped doing it because I felt like I wasn’t as good anymore. If I felt like I couldn’t give to it anymore, and I didn’t have any more ideas, then I would have stopped. Otherwise, if Jenji wanted to keep going, I would have kept going, absolutely.
Question: How many cups of iced coffee do you think Nancy’s had in her lifetime?
Parker: Per day? I would say four per day. I found myself holding it the way that I have her hold it. The other day, I was like, “This is really starting to seep into my personality,” but there’s nothing I can do.
The Weeds star looks back on eight memorable years – and ponders whether she'll smoke pot the night the finale airs.
If You Had Sense Enough To Quit ‘Weeds’ Years Ago, This Is How The Series Ended Last Night
Pour one out to Showtime’s Weeds, y’all. But not the good stuff. The show no longer deserves it. However, as we reflect upon last night’s weak, bummer of a series finale, let’s remember the good times: The first three seasons. It was once a great show. A darkly funny show. A show with a small universe of fantastic characters who all lived in the nice suburban town of Aggrestic, where a widowed suburban mom by the name of Nancy Botwin became a small-time pot dealer in order to support her family with the help of her quirky brother-in-law, Andy.
That show looked like this:
Remember this show? Remember Doug, the hilarious pothead neighbor who smoked up with Andy. He was also an accountant who helped Nancy launder money through a bakery shop. Then there was Silas, who was an angsty suburban teenager, and then Shane, the odd but precocious younger brother with a sinister streak.
We’ve come so far since then, almost entirely to the detriment of Jenji Kohan’s show. I will give Kohan this much credit, however: At the end of season three, she knew that the smaller-scare suburban premise had been completely exhausted. The thing to do, then, would’ve been to cancel the show. But in America, we don’t cancel shows at the top of their game. We let them run until they’re creatively bankrupt.
So, Nancy Botwin went from anti-hero to sex villain: She married the mayor of Mexico City, who was also the leader of a drug cartel. She was responsible for a lot of people’s deaths. Hell, even her son, Shane, killed someone. Nancy turned into a horrible, uncaring mother, and a pretty terrible all-around person. She neglected her family. She screwed over Andy every other episode. She had sex with Zack Morris. Then was there season on the lam; then she spent some time in jail and got herself a lesbian lover. Then she got shot in the head, but survived. Then she moved back to the suburbs to help raise her son, Stevie, who she had with the now dead drug kingpin.
Though she tried to go straight, the allure of pot kept bringing her back. Eventually, her and Silas struck a deal with big tobacco to turn their pot-growing expertise into a corporate enterprise; Shane became a crooked cop; Doug found a tax loophole for religious exemptions and started his own cult; and Andy finally got some sense and left Nancy.
That brings us, more or less, to last night’s one-hour finale. It zoomed ahead into the future, about seven or eight years or so, and centered on the bar mitzvah of little Stevie, now grown up and on the brink of manhood. It was excuse enough to bring back the whole gang once again and see how they’re doing in the future.
Here’s the Cliff’s Notes:
Nancy Botwin — After Andy left, she married the rabbi she met in the final season (he would later die in a car accident). She and Silas, along with Conrad and some more people from their suburban past, grew their pot-selling dispensaries into a franchise. In the finale, Nancy has to weigh whether or not to sell it to Starbucks and retire with enough money for 10 lifetimes. She eventually does agree to sell, making her, Silas, Conrad and Guillermo very rich people.
Andy Botwin — After Andy left Nancy, he moved away and into his father’s old house. He found suburban happiness, opened a restaurant, made a baby with a waitress friend, and became a loving, drama-free father. Nancy attempted to persuade Andy to come back — offering him her entire business — but Andy declined. It was heartening to see that Andy finally got out of that poisonous, destructive relationship for good.
Silas Botwin — Remember Megan Graves, the deaf girl that Silas purposely impregnated back in season two by poking a hole in his condom in an effort to keep her from dumping him? Well, at the end of the penultimate episode, he had a chance encounter with her. Now, they’re married, they have a baby, and they lead a happy life together.
Shane Botwin — Poor Shane. The troubled kid ended up with the worst ending. He got in with the wrong people on the police force (specifically Detective Ouellette), ended up dating some floozy (played by real-life drug addict, Natasha Lyonne), and turned to drugs. He’s bitter because he’s poor while the rest of his family is super wealthy. In the finale, Nancy convinced Shane to enter rehab and get his life together.
Doug Wilson — Doug became a very wealthy cult leader with a harem of women, a huge following, and a tour bus. In the finale, he also made amends with his estranged and gay son, Josh (Shameless’ Justin Chatwin), who hasn’t been seen since the pilot episode of Weeds.
Dean Hodes — Dean was in the finale, too, but mostly he was there to bring us the news that his lesbian daughter, Isabal, is now his son, Bob, and he’s in construction. No mention was made of Celia.
Little Stevie — Stevie found out from Guillermo that his real father was a gangster, which he proudly revealed during a bah mitvah speech in which he also revealed that he refused to declare a religious allegiance. Nancy also granted him his wish to go off to boarding school and find himself.
The episode ended with this lingering image, of the five major players sitting on the porch, smoking a joint and laughing together.
And if you’re curious, the final episode also began with the original “Little Boxes.” However, of all the versions from the show, my favorite was Steve Martin and Kevin Nealon’s version.
A summary of the 'Weeds' finale, and a rundown of where all the major characters ended up.