Super-talented movie actresses tend fall somewhere along a sliding Kinsey-type scale of personality, with the humble, hard-working, charming type like Meryl Streep as a 1, and the volcanic, impossible dragon lady like Faye Dunaway as a 6. Tilda Swinton would be a 1.5, Cate Blanchett a 2.5, Jodie Foster a 4.5, and Mary-Louise Parker a solid 6. From my brief personal experience of her, and the experiences of friends and colleagues, Parker is as rabid a meshugana bitch as they come. But she also races roadrunner circles around most other performers in terms of raw skill; the difficult personality probably has a lot to do with the fact she’s also ferociously intelligent. Still, it’s no excuse; so are Streep and Swinton.
Parker set the tone for Weeds eight seasons ago by creating a memorable strong female lead that nobody had ever seen before, and for the first three it was some of the best programming on premium cable. Then Parker’s character Nancy Botwin burned down her house in the SoCal suburban community of Agrestic, and the show floated off into a caricature of itself. Most of the believability was lost, although it enjoyed a brief return to balance when Alanis Morissette joined the cast as an obstetrician engaged to Justin Kirk’s often-irritating, sometimes-engaging character Andy, Nancy’s brother-in-law.