Nancy Botwin (Mary-Louise Parker) in Weeds stands against a green bullseye in a low cut top with flowing hair
Credit: Weeds - Facebook page

Lauren Wallenfels

Although Weeds is no longer in production, with Michigan’s recent vote to legalize marijuana, it seemed fitting to bring Weeds back to life. How does this show relate to Judaism, though? Weeds is an extremely funny show that features a lot of Judaic themes and humor. Classified as a “dark comedy-drama”, Weeds is about a widowed mother of two sons, Nancy Botwin (Mary-Louise Parker), who makes a living selling marijuana. For a suburban mother, this occupation is already out of the norm, but as the series continues, viewers won’t believe the insane things that happen to Nancy throughout her work — even life-threatening and life-altering situations.

One of the moments that sticks out in my mind as specifically relating to Judaism is when Nancy’s brother, Andy Botwin (Justin Kirk), decides to enroll in rabbinical school.

Andy’s motivation for enrolling in rabbinical school wasn’t because he necessarily wanted to be a rabbi, but he wanted to avoid having to go into the military. He had previously received a letter from the government saying that he had been drafted to Iraq and was desperately trying to avoid having to go. He sees this religious opportunity as a way to get out of his militaristic responsibility.

After finishing his application and officially enrolling, Andy falls in love with an Israeli character named Yael Hoffman also at rabbinical school. However, the feeling is not mutual. As an Israeli who’s been in the army, Yael is a tough girl who sees Andy as weak and inferior to her.

Andy does everything he can to woo Yael, and she eventually agrees to a few dates together, but while the two of them have a funny banter, it’s obvious that no matter how hard Andy tries, Yael will simply not be impressed.

With Andy’s sister Nancy’s profession, Andy often finds himself in situations that are much more problematic than Yael’s disinterest. In one episode, while Nancy and Andy are visiting a weed house, the house is raided, and an Armenian dog and Andy have an altercation that leaves Andy wounded and without two toes on his left foot.

While in recovery, Yael finally seems to have the feelings for Andy that he had for her, but it’s not time for celebration yet. Andy sees this new injury as a better and easier way for him to get out of his military responsibilities. He decides to drop out of rabbinical school and use this injury as his new method of escape. However, upon disclosing this information to Yael that Andy has decided to leave rabbinical school and stop his studies, Yael immediately breaks up with him.

Their short-term relationship ends, and Andy is left without a girlfriend, without the crutch of rabbinical school and, fortunately for him, without military duties. Many ultra-religious people can use religion as a reason that makes them unfit for the military. So, Andy had the right idea in attempting to become a rabbi in order to evade the military, even if his was more of an excuse than a true, deep-felt belief in the religious practices of a rabbi.

This plot line, which lasts over the course of the first two seasons, is funny and dramatic and will have you laughing the entire time. While the rabbinical school aspect might not be so relatable, their relationship is quite so. Watching Weeds is a fun, if not always realistic, way to see Judaism represented in television.

To see more of what Weeds has to offer, check it out for yourself.

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