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You Can't Miss The Bear

Meet Nancy Botwin: recently widowed mother of two and, as she puts it, the biggest pot-dealing game in the private community of Agrestic, California. Her oldest son, Silas, is a walking hormone with a mile-wide brat streak running right down the center of him. The youngest, Shane, is a weird little fucker, made all the weirder by the fact that he was out jogging with his dad when the old man keeled over from a heart attack. Nancy didn't have a job when she was married because she didn't have to, and after Judah died, she didn't really have the means to support her family in the way they were accustomed (i.e., cleaning lady, swimming pool, giant house in a gated community), so what choice did she have but to start selling weed? But I'm getting ahead of myself...

"Little boxes made of ticky-tacky..." Easily the most burrow-into-your-brain opening credits music on TV, at least until John From Cincinnati came along. Our first glimpse of Nancy is at Agrestic Elementary, where she's speaking at a meeting of the PTA, which also doubles as the Agrestic Gossipy Housewives Association. While Nancy and PTA president Celia "Fuckin' Awesome" Hodes are having a forcibly pleasant argument about whether all soft drinks should be removed from the vending machines or just the "sugary ones" ("our figure-watching daughters need their diet soda" is Celia's argument), the collected women snakily assess Nancy and how she's holding up in the face of her hubby's death, and in particular how much money she was or wasn't left with. After Celia strong-arms the committee into a vote, the women file out, which is when Nancy finally catches that they're whispering about her. The one covers by saying how great Nancy's purse is, and next thing we know, Nancy's extolling the virtues of said purse (it's a knockoff) to her weed supplier. And Heylia James deserves her own paragraph, so...

Heylia and her crew are in her kitchen measuring out the weed and bagging it up while Nancy talks about what an awesome fake her bag is. Heylia, of course, spots the faulty stitching on it right away. I love Heylia, honestly, but especially in the early going the sassy-black-truth-tellin'-mama act was laid on a bit thick. In the span of about three seconds she goes from calling Nancy a "dumb-ass white bitch" to asking who wants some cornbread. The cornbread leads to some Atkins talk that was already dated when this episode first aired. Heylia's nephew Conrad walks in and kind of ham-handedly plows into a position paper on how white-collar crime is punished (or not punished) differently than poor black folk selling weed. It's a consistent theme throughout the series, and it's usually handled quite a bit more deftly than right here.

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