For a half-hour comedy, the mood on the final panel for Weeds at the Television Critics Association fall TV previews Monday was surprisingly somber as creator Jenji Kohan and the cast, particularly star Mary-Louise Parker, reflected on the last eight seasons. "I'm just proud of [Kohan] and everybody, and sad," said Parker, who said she didn't want to come to the panel. "All things have to end. I'm just proud of all of us. I think [Kohan] just made something amazing."
After spending season after season on the bubble between renewal and cancellation, Kohan said it was bittersweet going into this season knowing that it would be the last after writing so many possible series finales. "We knew it was the end just before the season started. I was very sad about that because it's been great and it's hard to let go of a good thing," Kohan said. "Once we got the news, I thought, 'Oh sh--, so many times we've written our ending not knowing what is coming next.'"
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As a result, Kohan promised that its last hurrah will be less of a cliff-hanger than in years past — like when Shane killed Pilar or when Nancy was arrested at the airport. "Because we were given the opportunity to know when we were ending, we're not cliff-hanging necessarily," she said. "We're sort of wrapping things up."
The cast is currently shooting the two-part series finale, which will air on Sept. 16. "I just cried when I read it. I think it's beautiful," Parker said of the episode. "I think she just managed to brings thing together in a way. ... She didn't make it a total happily-ever-after thing, but there was hope in it and there was some sort of benediction."
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Although Kohan and the cast offered very few teases about the finale, Kohan said that there will be encore appearances from several familiar faces from Weeds' long and very windy road. "We wanted to bring everyone we could back and everyone who said yes, we brought back," she said. "It's a trip down Memory Lane lined with all of our lovely characters from the past."
Over the years, the shift of characters and locales surprised and sometimes drew criticism from fans. In Season 4, Nancy and her children fled the little boxes of Agrestic for a San Diego border town near Mexico. In Season 6, the family traveled to Seattle before settling in New York City in Season 7. Kohan said she wouldn't have done it any other way. "I think we are around in Year 8 because we did change it up. I don't think we could have sustained eight years in the suburbs," Kohan said. "People's lives change and evolve and I think we reflected that in the show."
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It was this support from Showtime over the years that made it so tough to close the book on Weeds for good. "There's this nagging feeling that we'll never have it this good again because we were really given the freedom to do what we wanted to do," Kohan said. "I'm just so proud of it and emotional about the ending."
"What stayed consistent was the tone and the characters," Kohan added. "You could take them anywhere."
Parker, who teared up when her on-screen son Hunter Parrish referred to her as "Mom," said she felt Nancy Botwin had this same tenacity that the show displayed over the years and many changes. "She just keeps going. If there's something appealing about her, that's it," she said. "She just can't be defeated and she keeps trying."
After Weeds exhales its final puff, Parker is working on two films but said she hopes to take another stab at series television. "I'm going to look for another TV show because I like doing television. I like it more than film," she said. "Hopefully that will go for a while."
Weeds airs Sundays at 10/9c on Showtime.