10 Facts About Weeds

Michael Desmond/Showtime
Michael Desmond/Showtime

In 2005, Showtime was an up-and-coming network with not many major hits, especially ones that captured the zeitgeist of the time. But the network took a risk when they bought writer Jenji Kohan’s concept for Weeds, a comedy-drama that goes to some dark places.

Nancy Botwin (Mary-Louise Parker) lives in an affluent gated community in Southern California, but her husband, Judah (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), suddenly passes away from a heart attack. She’s raising two sons and needs to find a way to make money, so she starts dealing weed. For eight seasons and 102 episodes, viewers followed the exploits of the Botwins, from Nancy being a suburban dealer to her marrying a drug lord/mayor of Tijuana, Esteban Reyes (Oscar nominee Demián Bichir).

Her brother-in-law Andy (Justin Kirk) comes along for the ride, as do accountant friend Doug Wilson (Kevin Nealon), critical neighbor Celia Hodes (Elizabeth Perkins), weed grower Conrad Shepard (Romany Malco), and guest stars Albert Brooks, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Alanis Morissette. Of course a lot of weed was smoked on the show, which Bichir revealed to GQ was actually lettuce.

In September 2012 the show finally concluded, with the family remaining intact. A year later, Kohan created another female-fronted show, Orange Is the New Black. Here are 10 blunt facts about the Golden Globe Award-winning series.

1. JENJI KOHAN WAS INTERESTED IN WRITING AN “OUTLAW SHOW.”

“I wanted to do an outlaw show,” Kohan told LAist. “From there I needed to find an outlaw and a crime.” She picked pot because it was a hot topic with the passing of Proposition 215, which decriminalized medical marijuana in California. “It was the perfect vehicle because while it’s illegal, no one takes it that seriously," Kohan said. "It’s the funny drug. Plus there’s a pot smoker in every family—it crosses all social, religious, economic, political, [and] racial lines. Nancy just came out on the page.”

Inspired by The Sopranos and The Shield, Kohan wanted to explore gray areas. In 20015, she told the Toledo Blade that those shows dealt with “people who are functioning outside of society’s moral code ... How do you convince yourself that you are still a moral person if you are doing something illegal?,” she said.

2. THE TITLE ALLUDES TO MORE THAN JUST POT.

Michael Desmond/Showtime

In a 2005 interview with the Toledo Blade, Kohan explained what the title meant. “Weeds are hardy plants that pop up everywhere and survive despite desperate climate and inhospitable environments,” she said. “There is also the expression ‘widow’s weeds,’ referring to a time when widows wore hats made of weeds. Mainly, though, it refers to hardy plants struggling to survive.”

3. HBO PASSED ON THE SHOW.

Kohan had come from the writers’ room of the network sitcom world—including The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and Friends—but wanted to create a show for cable. Initially, she pitched the idea of a “suburban widowed pot-dealing mom” to HBO, but they said no. So she pitched the idea to Robert Greenblatt at Showtime, a network Kohan said “was looking to make noise.” “They just went with it,” Kohan told The Wall Street Journal. The success of the female-led show caused the network to commission more woman-centric shows, such as Nurse Jackie and The Big C. “It's not like we had some great strategy: ‘Let’s do a series of shows about flawed women,’” Greenblatt said. “Weeds was a great idea and it started a trend.”

4. MARY-LOUISE PARKER KNEW WEEDS WASN’T JUST A COMEDY.

Showtime

“I never treated it as a comedy. I thought it was a drama,” Parker told The A.V. Club. “It’s somewhere in between, but they said the network had bought and expected a comedy, so it was something we needed to fulfill.” She said at first they tried to deliver the comedy but didn’t want to push too hard. “I never felt like or even wanted to feel like we were trying to push to be some flat-out crazy comedy, because you lose things.”

5. TRACT HOUSING INSPIRED THE SONG “LITTLE BOXES.”

Singer-songwriter Malvina Reynolds wrote the song “Little Boxes” in 1962 and Pete Seeger covered it in 1963. The song's title refers to a housing development Reynolds came across in Daly City, California, where she thought all the homes looked the same. Because the show changed locations, the theme song evolved, too.

Reynolds’s original version is used during the first season credits, but during the second and third seasons each episode features a different artist covering the song, such as Elvis Costello, Death Cab for Cutie, Billy Bob Thornton, Joan Baez, and Regina Spektor. When the Botwins abandoned their little box at the end of season three, the theme song disappeared, too. But Kohan resurrected it for the final season, with people like Kevin Nealon, Steve Martin, and Aimee Mann covering it.

6. ELIZABETH PERKINS HOPED THAT HER CHARACTER, CELIA, WOULD BE KILLED OFF. 

Showtime

The actress received an Emmy nomination for playing Nancy’s former neighbor, Celia Hodes. Perkins left the show after season five, but was asked to return for the final episode. “I just felt like, no, Celia should die,” Perkins told Yahoo!. “I was actually also busy shooting a new show and couldn’t really have made it work. But, it just seemed like Celia deserved a better send-off. I always thought at least just to blow her head off or something, blow her up in a car or something. She was such a vital part of the show for so long that I was a little surprised that they didn’t do her in.”

7. PARKER AND KOHAN WEREN’T ON SPEAKING TERMS FOR MOST OF THE SERIES.

In a candid interview with The New Yorker, Kohan admitted that for most of Weeds’s run, she employed a “talent whisperer” to communicate with Parker. According to the profile, the two barely spoke, and once Parker lobbed a script at her boss. Parker yelled “My mother can’t watch this!’ Kohan shot back, ‘I don’t write it for your mother.’” Still the two managed to work around their differences.  

8. KOHAN DIDN’T THINK EIGHT SEASONS IN THE SUBURBS WOULD’VE WORKED.

Michael Desmond/Showtime

The first three seasons saw the Botwins living in Agrestic, but when Agrestic burns down, they move to a fictional San Diego suburb called Ren Mar, in season 4. “I don’t think we could have sustained eight years in the suburbs,” Kohan told TV Guide. “People’s lives change and evolve and I think we reflected that in the show.” In other seasons they find themselves in Seattle, Dearborn, Michigan, then New York City and Denmark, and then Connecticut. 

9. NEITHER PARKER NOR KEVIN NEALON SMOKE.

You’d think a show about pot smoking would mean the actors would be stoners, but that’s not the case. During a Reddit session, Parker revealed she doesn’t smoke but once ate a pot lollipop, which had no effect on her. “It was very disappointing. I’m not opposed to the idea of smoking pot, it just never seemed liked the right time, and I have an addictive personality.” 

Nealon admitted that he isn’t a smoker either, but people are constantly offering the herb to him. “I can’t tell you how much pot I’ve been offered over the years,” Nealon told CNN. “I was in Haight-Ashbury a couple of years ago and I came out of there probably with a truckload of pot that was given to me. I literally threw it in the garbage can.”

10. PARKER DRINKS ICED COFFEE LIKE NANCY.

Showtime

A recurring image on the show is Nancy’s attachment to iced coffee. In most episodes she’s seen holding at least one plastic cup of iced coffee, chopping on the straw.

“I started holding the cup like a claw around the top, and that carried over into my real life,” Parker told Reddit. “Sometimes I see people smirking at me when I’m walking down the street holding a cup of coffee like that, and now it’s kind of ingrained in me.” IGN asked her how many cups of coffee does she think Nancy drank per day, and Parker responded with, “I would say four per day.” 

Amazon’s Big Fall Sale Features Deals on Electronics, Kitchen Appliances, and Home Décor

Dash/Keurig
Dash/Keurig

If you're looking for deals on items like Keurigs, BISSELL vacuums, and essential oil diffusers, it's usually pretty slim pickings until the holiday sales roll around. Thankfully, Amazon is starting these deals a little earlier with their Big Fall Sale, where customers can get up to 20 percent off everything from home decor to WFH essentials and kitchen gadgets. Now you won’t have to wait until Black Friday for the deal you need. Make sure to see all the deals that the sale has to offer here and check out our favorites below.

Electronics

Dash/Amazon

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Home office Essentials

HP/Amazon

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Selieve/Amazon

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Home Improvement

DEWALT/Amazon

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NECA/Amazon

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12 Surprising Facts About T.S. Eliot

Getty
Getty

Born September 26, 1888, modernist poet and playwright Thomas Stearns (T.S.) Eliot is best known for writing "The Waste Land." But the 1948 winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature was also a prankster who coined a perennially popular curse word, and created the characters brought to life in the Broadway musical "Cats." In honor of Eliot’s birthday, here are a few things you might not know about the writer.

1. T.S. Eliot enjoyed holding down "real" jobs.

Throughout his life, Eliot supported himself by working as a teacher, banker, and editor. He could only write poetry in his spare time, but he preferred it that way. In a 1959 interview with The Paris Review, Eliot remarked that his banking and publishing jobs actually helped him be a better poet. “I feel quite sure that if I’d started by having independent means, if I hadn’t had to bother about earning a living and could have given all my time to poetry, it would have had a deadening influence on me,” Eliot said. “The danger, as a rule, of having nothing else to do is that one might write too much rather than concentrating and perfecting smaller amounts.”

2. One of the longest-running Broadway shows ever exists thanks to T.S. Eliot.

Getty Images

In 1939, Eliot published a book of poetry, Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, which included feline-focused verses he likely wrote for his godson. In stark contrast to most of Eliot's other works—which are complex and frequently nihilistic—the poems here were decidedly playful. For Eliot, there was never any tension between those two modes: “One wants to keep one’s hand in, you know, in every type of poem, serious and frivolous and proper and improper. One doesn’t want to lose one’s skill,” he explained in his Paris Review interview. A fan of Eliot's Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats since childhood, in the late '70s, Andrew Lloyd Webber decided to set many of Eliot's poems to music. The result: the massively successful stage production "Cats," which opened in London in 1981 and, after its 1982 NYC debut, became one of the longest-running Broadway shows of all time.

3. Three hours per day was his T.S. Eliot’s writing limit.

Eliot wrote poems and plays partly on a typewriter and partly with pencil and paper. But no matter what method he used, he tried to always keep a three hour writing limit. “I sometimes found at first that I wanted to go on longer, but when I looked at the stuff the next day, what I’d done after the three hours were up was never satisfactory," he explained. "It’s much better to stop and think about something else quite different.”

4. T.S. Eliot considered "Four Quartets" to be his best work.

In 1927, Eliot converted to Anglicanism and became a British citizen. His poems and plays in the 1930s and 1940s—including "Ash Wednesday," "Murder in the Cathedral," and "Four Quartets"—reveal themes of religion, faith, and divinity. He considered "Four Quartets,” a set of four poems that explored philosophy and spirituality, to be his best writing. Out of the four, the last is his favorite.

5. T.S. Eliot had an epistolary friendship with Groucho Marx.

Eliot wrote comedian Groucho Marx a fan letter in 1961. Marx replied, gave Eliot a photo of himself, and started a correspondence with the poet. After writing back and forth for a few years, they met in real life in 1964, when Eliot hosted Marx and his wife for dinner at his London home. The two men, unfortunately, didn’t hit it off. The main issue, according to a letter Marx wrote his brother: the comedian had hoped he was in for a "Literary Evening," and tried to discuss King Lear. All Eliot wanted to talk about was Marx's 1933 comedy Duck Soup. (In a 2014 piece for The New Yorker, Lee Siegel suggests there had been "simmering tension" all along, even in their early correspondence.)

6. Ezra Pound tried to crowdfund T.S. Eliot’s writing.

Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

In 1921, Eliot took a few months off from his banking job after a nervous breakdown. During this time, he finished writing "The Waste Land," which his friend and fellow poet Ezra Pound edited. Pound, with the help of other Bohemian writers, set up Bel Esprit, a fund to raise money for Eliot so he could quit his bank job to focus on writing full-time. Pound managed to get several subscribers to pledge money to Eliot, but Eliot didn’t want to give up his career, which he genuinely liked. The Liverpool Post, Chicago Daily Tribune, and the New York Tribune reported on Pound’s crowdfunding campaign, incorrectly stating that Eliot had taken the money, but continued working at the bank. After Eliot protested, the newspapers printed a retraction.

7. Writing in French helped T.S. Eliot overcome writer’s block.

After studying at Harvard, Eliot spent a year in Paris and fantasized about writing in French rather than English. Although little ever came of that fantasy, during a period of writer’s block, Eliot did manage to write a few poems in French. “That was a very curious thing which I can’t altogether explain. At that period I thought I’d dried up completely. I hadn’t written anything for some time and was rather desperate,” he told The Paris Review. “I started writing a few things in French and found I could, at that period ...Then I suddenly began writing in English again and lost all desire to go on with French. I think it was just something that helped me get started again."

8. T.S. Eliot set off stink bombs in London with his nephew.

Eliot, whose friends and family called him Tom, was supposedly a big prankster. When his nephew was young, Eliot took him to a joke shop in London to purchase stink bombs, which they promptly set off in the lobby of a nearby hotel. Eliot was also known to hand out exploding cigars, and put whoopee cushions on the chairs of his guests.

9. T.S. Eliot may have been the first person to write the word "bulls**t."

In the early 1910s, Eliot wrote a poem called "The Triumph of Bulls**t." Like an early 20th-century Taylor Swift tune, the poem was Eliot’s way of dissing his haters. In 1915, he submitted the poem to a London magazine … which rejected it for publication. The word bulls**t isn’t in the poem itself, only the poem’s title, but The Oxford English Dictionary credits the poem with being the first time the curse word ever appeared in print.

10. T.S. Eliot coined the expression “April is the cruelest month.”

Thanks to Eliot, the phrase “April is the cruelest month” has become an oft-quoted, well-known expression. It comes from the opening lines of "The Waste Land”: “April is the cruelest month, breeding/Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing/Memory and desire, stirring/Dull roots with spring rain.”

11. T.S. Eliot held some troubling beliefs about religion.

Over the years, Eliot made some incredibly problematic remarks about Jewish people, including arguing that members of a society should have a shared religious background, and that a large number of Jews creates an undesirably heterogeneous culture. Many of his early writing also featured offensive portrayals of Jewish characters. (As one critic, Joseph Black, pointed out in a 2010 edition of "The Waste Land" and Other Poems, "Few published works displayed the consistency of association that one finds in Eliot's early poetry between what is Jewish and what is squalid and distasteful.") Eliot's defenders argue that the poet's relationship with Jewish people was much more nuanced that his early poems suggest, and point to his close relationships with a number of Jewish writers and artists.

12. You can watch a movie based on T.S. Eliot’s (really bad) marriage.

Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Tom & Viv, a 1994 film starring Willem Dafoe, explores Eliot’s tumultuous marriage to Vivienne Haigh-Wood, a dancer and socialite. The couple married in 1915, a few months after they met, but the relationship quickly soured. Haigh-Wood had constant physical ailments, mental health problems, and was addicted to ether. The couple spent a lot of time apart and separated in the 1930s; she died in a mental hospital in 1947. Eliot would go on to remarry at the age of 68—his 30-year-old secretary, Esmé Valerie Fletcher—and would later reveal that his state of despair during his first marriage was the catalyst and inspiration for "The Waste Land."

This story has been updated for 2020.