Is "Breaking Bad" just a knockoff of Showtime's "Weeds"? There was a time when "Breaking Bad" creator Vince Gilligan thought so.
In a recent Newsweek story, Gilligan described his horror upon discovering that there was a show out there about a pot-dealing suburban mother.
"I could feel the blood drain from my face," Gilligan wrote of finding out "Weeds" existed while pitching "Breaking Bad" to a cable network. "I turned to [the co-producers of Sony Television] Zack [Van Amburg] and Jamie [Erlicht]. 'Did you know about "Weeds"?' 'Oh, yeah,' they said. 'Great show. But your thing is completely different. She deals pot and your guy deals crystal meth. Apples and oranges.'
While "Breaking Bad" and "Weeds" have managed to co-exist for years, Gilligan admits he never would have gone through with "Breaking Bad" if he had know about the existence of the Showtime series.
"If I had known of 'Weeds' weeks or even days prior to that meeting, it’s likely I wouldn’t have had the will to go on," he wrote. "I would have said to myself (and I’ve said this a lot), 'Damn! All the good ideas are already taken!'"
The critically acclaimed "Breaking Bad" has something else in common with "Weeds" besides the suburban drug factor: Both shows recently kicked off their final seasons.
“I’m so proud of what we do here and that it’s about a strong woman lead who’s really flawed,” "Weeds" creator Jenji Kohan told EW after admitting that she was sad that the show was coming to an end. “We get to do comedy right up against drama, which a lot of shows don’t get the opportunity to do.”
"Breaking Bad" airs on Sundays at 10 p.m. ET on AMC, directly competing with "Weeds," which airs on Sundays at 10 p.m. ET on Showtime.
Furlong: Admittedly, I kept watching after this horrible moment in "Weeds" history, but I didn't like it. "Suck 'n' Spit," as this Season 5 episode was so subtly titled, was a true low on the Nancy-Andy will they/won't they sexual tension meter, but it also signified the desperation of a show grasping to find itself after one too many shocking reinventions.
Etkin: I loved "Weeds" when it more about the "little boxes on a hillside" lifestyle of the Botwin family, helmed by pot-slinging matriarch Nancy. Her neighbor and friend(ish) Celia Hodes (Elizabeth Perkins) was painfully hilarious, as was Nancy's dealer Conrad (Romany Malco) and his family. The look at what goes on behind closed doors in picture-perfect suburbia was relatable, even if it was a bit ridiculous at times. But once Agrestic burned to the ground and the Botwins were dealing with things below the border, it got a little too political and absurd to me. Then, when little Shane committed murder and clubbed Pilar, I had to turn it off (though I did admittedly watch some of Michelle Trachtenberg's episodes last season).
Moaba: "Weeds" used to be appointment viewing for me, but somewhere along the way I lost interest in the Botwin family's long, strange trip. Looking back, I think I can pinpoint that it happened somewhere during Season 5, and probably had a lot to do with the Nancy being pregnant with Esteban's baby storyline. First he was threatening to kill her, then they had to keep the baby's birth a secret, then he proposed to her and they all moved into his Mexican mansion. I started to get irritated by Nancy's never-ending ability to weave herself in and out of trouble, and fed up with story arcs that took up entire seasons but ultimately went nowhere. It all started to make me dizzy ... more dizzy than I usually like to be while watching "Weeds." But now, with the end of the series finally in sight, I'll be tuning back in to see how Jenji Kohan decides to wrap up the story, and hoping it ends with legalization.
Ryan: Some time around Season 4, "Weeds" just got too sour for me. When they hit the road to Mexico and Albert Brooks turned up as Uncle Lenny, the whole thing just took a turn toward the deeply unpleasant, and given that I was never all that interested in the enigmatic Nancy Botwin, I just lost interest fast and never got back on board. But the good news is, I can watch Justin Kirk, one of my favorite actors from the show, star in a sitcom with a monkey this fall! Hooray?
Weingus: I used to love Nancy on "Weeds," but by Season 5 she was unbearable to watch. Not only was she obnoxious and unsympathetic, but she became a horrible mother. All she wanted to do was start drama. She unraveled before my eyes!
Harnick: I had my fill of the Botwins after Season 1. The subject matter and humor wasn't very much my style ... plus the fact that I didn't have Showtime at the time made my decision to leave all the more easier.