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Suburbanites Get High on New Comedy 'Weeds'

Don’t tune in to “Weeds” expecting to see Cheech and Chong (search).

This new Showtime comedy series about a 40-ish suburban widow (Mary-Louise Parker), who deals marijuana to make ends meet, in no way resembles Cheech and Chong’s “Up in Smoke” or any other movie that celebrates the joys of smoking pot.

Instead, according to the show’s creator, the show’s pot plot is merely a "vehicle" for storylines about the eccentric residents of a suburban housing development in California.

"It’s definitely about a woman doing something illegal, and that is selling pot," acknowledges Jenji Kohan (search), creator, writer and executive producer of "Weeds (search)." "But it was something we’ve used to really explore some deeply flawed characters who are interesting to us, and to tell some stories that we want to tell," she says.

In addition, she cautions, "We don’t make a judgement [about pot]. We’re not advocating marijuana use nor are we vilifying it and saying it’s the route to hell."

Kohan also emphasizes that there is nothing autobiographical about "Weeds."

But while the main character, Nancy Botwin (Parker), is not Kohan, the character is "inspired" by real people, concedes Kohan, who grew up in the television business. Her father is veteran TV writer Buz Kohan, winner of 13 Emmys for his work on dozens of awards telecasts, including the Oscars, and televised tributes to stars such as Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr. and Bob Hope.

Kohan, 36, has written for shows such as "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air," "Mad About You," "Sex and the City," "Will & Grace" and others. She is married with two children, and pregnant with a third.

"There are people I’ve known through my life who have been women who’ve been dealers and mothers, but it’s not specifically based on anyone," she says of "Weeds." "I made it up."

"Weeds," whose debut episode will be repeated this week at 10 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, takes place in a picture-perfect housing tract where everybody has a secret. Among the neighbors are Celia Hodes (Elizabeth Perkins), an unhappy housewife whose husband is having an affair with the local tennis pro, and Doug Wilson (Kevin Nealon), a local councilman who is Botwin’s accountant and one of her best customers.

More than just the story of one woman’s decision to make her living illegally, "Weeds" is clearly a satire of the suburban "soccer mom" lifestyle and Parker, who won an Emmy last year for her performance in "Angels in America," is the perfect choice to star in it.

"I think when you end up in one of these [brand-new housing developments] that have no center and no soul and no history, and everything is pristine on the surface, you’re desperate to make your life interesting," surmises Kohan, who doesn’t live in a place anything like the fictional locale of "Weeds."

"My house was built in 1927," she says proudly.

WEEDS
Sunday, 11 p.m., Showtime