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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
Although the Botwins love each other, their family relationships are constantly tested and twisted beyond most people's breaking point. Selfishness is often rewarded, and plenty of illegal activity takes place without a hint of consequence.
Positive Role Models
Nancy ostensibly has her family's best interests at heart, but most of her day-to-day actions -- dealing drugs, working with gangsters -- are risky and illegal. Her friends and family members aren't much better; a young teen kills someone without remorse, adults initiate sex with underage teens on multiple occasions, her brother-in-law is cheerfully self-serving (and doesn't hesitate to lie to get what he wants), and her suburban friend does things like hide laxatives in her tween daughter's chocolate stash so that she'll lose weight. In smaller roles, sympathetic people can be found: Heylia and Conrad are drug dealers, but they also work hard and follow their own codes of ethics. Isabelle has self-confidence despite growing up with an emotionally abusive mother.
White women appear in a variety of complex roles. Jewish main characters portray cultural traditions like sitting shiva and holding a bris ceremony; the dynamics of inter-faith families are thoughtfully explored. There's a romantic arc for a Deaf character (authentically cast Deaf actor Shoshanna Stern). But Weeds has damaging stereotypes of Black, Latino, Armenian, and Russian people, all portrayed as drug dealers and gangsters. White characters are also drug dealers, but they get subplots and backstories. Black characters Heylia and Conrad have a little more nuance, but they're the exceptions, not the rule. A White character uses Blackface; he's the butt of the joke, but it doesn't quite land. Latino and Asian portrayals are especially offensive -- Latina cleaners, Mexican rapists and cartel members, a Puerto Rican gangster, Chinese sex workers, East Asian nail salon workers, etc. East Asian women are hyper-sexualized, referred to as "Oriental p---y" and "she love me long time." Sanjay is the only non-stereotypical Asian character -- a Hindu college student and gay drug dealer. A minor Native character always appears accompanied by racist drum beats. Arab men fare a bit better; they're seen at a mosque or behind a bar, not just in drug houses or abandoned warehouses, and aren't all lumped together (one character mentions he's Jordanian Sunni; he opposes his daughter's marriage to a Shi'ite Muslim). LGBTQ+ characters are mostly flat, and queerness is never explored – at best, a young queer character acts confidently and isn't defined by their sexuality. Other examples, such as a main character who abruptly has a same-sex relationship during a stint in prison but never again throughout the series, or the brief mention of a character coming out as trans played for humor, feel glib. Overall, offensive White characters may be the butt of the joke, but writers still heavily use racist and LGBTQ+ stereotypes for humor without critique.
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Violence & Scariness
Somewhat sporadic depending on the season/episode, but it can be quite shocking when it happens. Stand-off scenes between drug dealers include lots of guns; Nancy participates in a drive-by; other bloody wounds appear (some from gunshots, some from other sources -- like animal attacks). Several abrupt deaths, including on-screen killings. Also beatings, torture, and car accidents. A main character is raped (brief but depicted). Statutory rape across a few different relationships. An adult catfishes a teen into cybersex -- played for humor. One character mentions giving his wife tequila shots and then having sex with her while she was passed out. An employer relentlessly pressures his assistant for sex. A character pokes holes into condoms and gets a teen pregnant.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Infrequent full-frontal nudity and lots of partial nudity (breasts, buttocks, more). Frequent sex scenes (some quite explicit, and some involving underage teen characters). An adult takes an 11-year-old boy to a "massage parlor" as a coming-of-age treat. A son masturbates to nude photos of his mother from when she was younger. A 13-year-old loses his virginity in a threesome (discussed, but nothing shown on-screen except an image of the kids asleep in the same bed the morning after, fully clothed).
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Extremely frequent and explicit; nothing is bleeped. "F--k," "s--t," "a--hole," "c--t," etc. -- they're all there. Slurs yelled at characters include the "N" word (by non-Black characters), "freak," "f--got," and "retarded." You'll also hear "d-ke," "Oriental p---y," "wetback," "spic," "Paki," "cripple," etc.
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Products & Purchases
Characters drink a lot of Diet Coke across the series. Fiji water, Stella Artois, Toblerone, Apple laptops, a Puma jacket, Mercedes and Prius cars, etc. are also consumed and/or used. Characters mention Macy's, Whole Foods, McDonald's, Burger King, eBay, Paypal, Rolex, and other brands.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
The show's premise is closely tied to marijuana at a time when cannabis was illegal in most U.S. states; characters grow it, sell it, smoke it, bake it into pastries, etc. Later seasons expand to cover more of the illegal drug industry. Adults and teens also drink regularly, and some use and/or get addicted to drugs like cocaine and heroin.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Weeds is an addictive (pun intended), extremely mature dramedy about drug dealing in the suburbs. The main character, Nancy (Mary-Louise Parker), makes parenting decisions that most people would disagree with -- especially deciding to sell marijuana to provide for her kids. Her friends and family members are likewise flawed people whose behavior is questionable at best and unbelievably irresponsible and cruel at worst (Nancy's best friend has a habit of belittling her daughter's weight, for example). Most conversations are peppered with extremely strong, often offensive language ("f--k," "s--t," "c--t," the "N" word, "f--got," "Oriental p---y," "retarded," etc.). Though there are nuanced portrayals of Jewish culture and a Deaf character, expect tons of damaging stereotypes about Black, Latino, Chinese, Native, Russian, and immigrant people. Full-frontal nudity is sporadic, partial nudity and uninhibited sex scenes are common, and the themes are unquestionably adult-oriented. That said, the show can be both funny and insightful, too, and adults might get a contact high just by watching.
Is It Any Good?
This engaging dramedy isn't the first TV show to expose the dark side of life in the suburbs, and it almost certainly won't be the last. But it's probably safe to say that Weeds is the only series that goes behind the facade in such a large cloud of marijuana smoke. Of course, just about everyone has some good mixed in with the bad. The trauma of her husband's death has left Nancy very much at sea, and all she can do is get through one day at a time. She cares deeply about her sons and honestly wants what's best for them, even if her very questionable parenting choices don't always make that clear. And Andy really likes being part of a family -- he just has trouble understanding that he's supposed to be one of the grown-ups. Even Celia has a softer side, though she doesn't show it often.
Thanks to complex, interesting characters like these and some very sharp writing, Weeds can be both laugh-out-loud funny and poignantly dramatic. But it's definitely meant for adults. The rampant drug use, racist stereotypes, and statutory rape -- all mined for dark comedy -- are only a few of the show's red flags. Most of the characters curse a blue streak, teens drink and do drugs, and almost all of the show's Black and Latino characters are drug dealers and gangsters. One thing's for sure -- life in Weeds may be complicated, smoky, and sometimes even shocking, but it's certainly never boring.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.