Hey, The Hills returns tonight. Maybe you heard.
We're not unexcited, but just to prove that our crush on Lauren Conrad has not completely blinded us to other worthy celebrities and shows, it's time we paid a little attention to Weeds.
Any show with an advertisement featuring a nude Mary-Louise Parker is at least worthy of the occasional celebrity news story. Right? Right.
On Weeds, which returns at 10 pm tonight on Showtime, Nancy Botwin knows the everyday annoyances of modern life. Like an anemic cellphone signal when she needs to make a call.
But Nancy also faces less routine challenges: She and her phone are sharing the same room with five gangsters, each armed with a gun he's pointing at her head.
Worse: Nancy's hefty stash of marijuana - the central object of everyone's concern (and of the hit series) - is mysteriously missing.
That was the scene when the offbeat Showtime comedy starring Mary-Louise Parker ended its second season last fall. Now, with its return tonight, Nancy is right where viewers left her: under the gun. Literally!
"It was a bit tricky to find the mood again," says Parker of picking up the same scene that ended Season Two. "I had to work myself up into that same kind of froth."
The remarkable thing about Weeds is how funny it makes its premise - one that could and should be a real buzzkill: A newly widowed mother of two who starts selling weed to maintain her family's comfortable suburban lifestyle.
But that lifestyle is becoming a cover for a life increasingly committed to crime for the soccer mom from picture-perfect Agrestic, Calif.
"Nancy is a crook," says Parker of her character, surveying the season ahead. "She's a gangsta!"
Witty writing (and an unforgiving eye for middle-class hypocrisies) deliver plenty of laughs. So does the series' primo supporting cast, which includes Elizabeth Perkins, Kevin Nealon, Justin Kirk, Romany Malco and Matthew Modine.
Jeffrey Dean Morgan, a former memorable Grey's Anatomy guest star who also dated Parker in real life, plays her deceased husband in flashbacks.
But Weeds is rooted in Parker's performance as Nancy, who, in her hands, is an anxious blend of boldness and delusion. Nancy stands up to the perils she has brought on herself, while going to great lengths to pretend they aren't there.
"I think her narcissism is offset by her naivete, to make her more palatable than she might otherwise be," Mary-Louise Parker muses.
"She's kind of a less ruthless version of Scarlett O'Hara: She's gonna survive no matter what, she's gonna make it work, she's gonna put on that red dress - you know, Scarlett puts it on and goes to the ball."
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