LOS ANGELES – Desperation? The housewives on Wisteria Lane should take a day trip to the equally picturesque but even more problematic TV town of Agrestic, California. That's the setting of the new Showtime series "Weeds," (search) which had its premiere Tuesday night on the Paramount Pictures lot.
The weekly half-hour dramedy debuting Aug. 7 revolves around Nancy, a newly widowed suburban mother (played by Mary Louise Parker (search), who ends up selling marijuana to her neighbors — all to maintain the upper-middle class lifestyle to which she and her children have become accustomed.
"Oh, it's about pot!" the Tony-winning Parker joked with AP Television News, before getting serious. "It's about suburbia and the myth of suburbia ... and how it seems like normalcy and perfection and what is actually behind that, how that actually doesn't exist."
Elizabeth Perkins (search) portrays the sad-funny-infuriating Celia, a ruthless mother, tortured wife and alcoholic, pill-popping mess. Think Lady Macbeth meets Sue Ellen Ewing of "Dallas" fame.
"Well, Celia is politically correct but only in her own mind," explained Perkins, sexy in a Richard Tyler couture vintage leather dress. "She's sort of the keeper of the moral fortitude of the town of Agrestic, but underneath it all, she's probably the most screwed up of anybody in town, and is definitively the most politically incorrect."
"Weeds" marks a rare dramatic turn for Kevin Nealon (search), following his nine-year run on "Saturday Night Live." Romany Malco and Tonye Patano provide, respectively, the heart and soul of the story — surprising when you consider they play Nancy's drug suppliers.
Patano insisted that the pot is not the show's focal point.
"It's about much more than that," noted the screen and Broadway veteran, glamorous in an ensemble she said was purchased from the QVC home shopping network. "The big questions (the show) raises are so much more interesting: 'Why do people do it?' 'What do people really need in their lives?'"
All the "Weeds" principals said they were prepared for controversy to come. Noted Perkins, a mother of four: "I find it interesting that the show is going to be controversial just because there is marijuana featured in it ... There are so many more important issues in the world right now."
Added Parker, "I think it'll push a lot of buttons in a lot of people and I think some people will be really shocked by it and turned off by it, and I think other people will find it really perverse and interesting, and I don't know where the middle ground will be."