Showtime's 'Weeds' goes up in smoke

This always happens to me: I catch on late to something fun, and then it either ends or goes on hiatus soon thereafter (see also: my 20s). This time it's the Showtime series "Weeds."

Showtime announced last week that it will conclude the chronicles of pot dealer Nancy Botwin and her brood this year. (Get it? "Chronic"-les? Wordsmith!) The show's eighth and final season starts July 1, in what will be brilliant "Dallas"-esque form when we'll hopefully discover who shot Nancy Botwin (Mary-Louise Parker).

Season 7 ended with Ms. Botwin and her family blissfully picknicking in a suburban backyard—until a hidden gunman takes a shot at Nancy. The screen fades to black before we viewers can tell if the shot hit its mark. One of several chickens could've come home to roost, and theories abound as to who came seeking revenge. Just Google "Who shot Nancy Botwin?" and you'll get the picture.

I caught on to Weeds thanks to the magic of Netflix, which, in a fabulous burst of coolness offered the entire series on its streaming service long, long ago. A Showtime show on Netflix? Whatta scam for the non-boutique cable subscribers! Take that HBO, otherwise known as the Let's Wait Until the Next Lunar Eclipse Before We Release Our Amazing Series to the Non-Subscribing Rabble Network.

(And speaking of HBO, damn you and "Game of Thrones" for making addicts of me and my husband — to such an extent we've gone begging to an HBO-sporting friend's house to stay current. Also, is it wrong that I want to be called Marisa "Mother of Dragons" Nadolny now?)

So, I watched every blessed episode of "Weeds" in a whirlwind of sloth this winter and even dragged my husband into the mix. I was hooked like one of Nancy's best customers, thanks first to Kevin Nealon as Doug, the one-time CPA/councilman turned hanger-on, who is one of the funniest people on the planet. Some of his best lines are unprintable, so here's a link to one his more tame funny-man moments (Elizabeth Perkins is fabulous in this one, too.)

Then there's the great cameos: Zooey Deschanel as a psycho-stalker with a heart of gold; Mary-Kate Olsen as a super Christian pot-lover; Allison Janney, the lawyer convicted drug dealers love; Snoop Dog as, well, Snoop Dog; Carrie Fischer as a divorce lawyer; Alanis Morrisette as an OB/GYN (who does abortions) at a clinic constantly picked by pro-lifers (who, ironically, threaten to kill her just about every day).

And finally, it's been fascinating to watch Nancy's character trajectory through the last seven seasons. Always digging an even bigger hole of woes, she's gone a long way from the surburban, widowed SoCal housewife we met in season 1: from small time drug dealer, to big time drug dealer (and protege of local kingpin U-Turn, who is the third funniest character on the show—before he bites it. Nancy's brother-in-law Andy is funniest character #2.), to international drug smuggler, to wife of Mexican politician and drug-runner Esteban, to jailbird, to New York boutique drug dealer, and back again to suburbia, with many, many weird, hilarious, and sometimes heart-breaking stops in between. (Shane vs. Pilar! What the heck?)

When the smoke clears, here's hoping Nancy finds some redemption--and that Showtime finds another breakout hit.

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