Once a crown jewel comedy for Showtime, the quirky Weeds was cancelled after season 8. This is what led the premium cable channel to that decision.
Weeds, once Showtime’s defining comedy, was cancelled in 2012 after season 8. The groundbreaking comedy was created by Jenji Kohan, who later created Orange Is The New Black. It followed the escapades of the Botwin family, who initially lived in the fictional suburban enclave of Agrestic, California. Headed up by mother Nancy (Mary-Louise Parker), she begins dealing marijuana to support her two sons after her husband’s death.
Darkly comic, Weeds took home several awards including a Golden Globe for Parker and a pair of Emmys before it was cancelled. In its early seasons, it was charming and unique. Nancy was both naive and unusually adept, at times. As Weeds progressed, she rose from dimebag pusher to supplier. Given how times have changed, with recreational marijuana now legal in a growing number of states, the concept of Weeds comes off as a bit outdated.
By the time Weeds season 8 rolled around, audiences were less interested in the Botwin family, and Showtime cancelled it. What was once a highly rated show (for premium cable) saw viewership fall, with season 7 averaging just 720,000 viewers according to Nielsen. The cancellation axe was sharpened, and Showtime announced just prior to Weeds’ season 8 premiere that it would be wrapping up. Per EW, Showtime’s entertainment president David Nevins said, “TV fans love nothing more than to complain about how shows end and we really want to end this one the right way.” Obviously, the decision had been made before Weeds season 8 was in production. Creator Jenji Kohan was quoted as being “sad” about the news, but thankful to be given the chance to end the series in a creative way.
Looking at why the numbers fell is important to understanding Showtime’s announcement that Weeds season 8 would see the Botwin family cancelled. Frankly, the show’s plots were spinning out of control. Once charming and easily digestible, Weeds became downright confusing after season 3. Then Nancy was caught up with outlaw bikers and Mexican dealers, and a conflict there led to an arson which destroyed just about every square inch of Agrestic. The following seasons were dragged down by significant time jumps and increasingly crazy storylines, including moving the Botwins to Mexico, murder via a croquet mallet, a pregnancy, and an assassination attempt. For many, Weeds, the once smart satire, had become ridiculous. Nancy, its protagonist, was arguably wholly unlikable.
Just as Weeds began to become hard to watch, it was also faced with AMC’s stellar Breaking Bad, with the latter premiering in 2008 as Weeds entered season 4. There were now two shows about average people delving into the illegal drug trade on the air. And, as luck would have it, they soon became direct competitors on Sunday nights. All this leading up to Weeds season 8 being its last.
Fans of Weeds, who weren’t turned off in the end, will be happy to hear that Mary-Louise Parker will be reprising her role as Nancy Botwin for Weeds 4.20, which is currently in development for Starz. The show will reportedly pick up a decade after Weeds season 8 ended. A premiere date for the new series is not known at this time.