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Saturday, June 18, 2011

Weeds 1x01 - You Can't Miss The Bear

Mmmm brownies!  Aww, you shouldn't have!

What we have here is a 52-page "Writer's First Draft" written by Jenji Kohan and dated April 8, 2004 (download here).  There are no acts, but there is a great little half-page Tag at the end.

One thing this script nails down, with tactical nuclear strike-type precision, is the banality of suburban life.  More specifically: the gelded, white-bred, soccer mom, dad's-banging-the-Asian-tennis-instructor, upper-middle-class-type banality.

Floating in the middle of that detritus is 'poor, widowed' Nancy Botwin and the remnants of her family.  Nancy's a cool mom, she gets her kids, understands what makes people tick... and she slings dime bags on the side to help make ends meet.

It's sort of like a softer, funnier 'Pre-Breaking Bad' Breaking Bad.  There's satire to be had here, but it's subtle -- everyone is self-aware but just enough to realize just how fucked they are.  Frankly, it's quite brilliant.  Especially when they start working in the idea that this hip, young, drug-selling mom -- for all that she 'knows' -- is still incredibly naive.

The dialogue here is absolutely top-freaking-notch.  If there's no other reason to recommend this script (but there are many) it's to check out the dialogue.  Again, there's that self-awareness that runs through these characters, that informs how they perceive their world and interact.... and it makes for some crackling dialogue.

They also do a great job of contrasting her 'perfect' suburban life with the rundown, but far more real, world of her drug suppliers Conrad, Keeyon and Heylia.  There, in the ghetto (as they would have you believe), these black folks act with a kind of honesty that she simply doesn't get anywhere else.  She can be open, she can be herself and, also unlike anywhere else in her other world, there's a grudging sort of respect there.

Technically speaking, there really isn't a lot of new things here but there is one interesting transition in this script that I've never seen anywhere else:  RESET TO:

I'm not entirely sure of its purpose... seems to play out like a CUT TO: but I'm guessing there's something different implied here?  Does anyone know the difference between them and/or why you'd use it?

All-in-all, I quite enjoyed this script, it's fast, it's funny and it's actually a really interesting concept.  My first instinct was to label it a Breaking Bad-type show, but then I realize that this show came first... so maybe Breaking Bad is a Weeds-type show?

Highly recommended.
Tomorrow I'll be checking out The Wire 1x01 - The Target.  Hot damn.  I'm glad this one came up on a Sunday.

'Til then!

Cheers,
Brandon

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