Help the weeds grow or Are we tired enough, yet, of all the same?

The 8th season of Weeds will soon be here. On July 1 at 10pm ET/PT, on Showtime, the Botwin family is coming back to shed some more light for the world on the value of “weeds” in society. Yes, I said value. And I am not at all encouraging or endorsing their promotion or use of drugs or their participation in crimes- those parts of the show are best left behind to illustrate my point, frankly.

I think the point of the show was set into motion quite remarkably with Weeds original theme song  “Little Boxes” written by Malvina Reynolds in 1962.  While the song is a political satire about the development of suburbia and associated conformist attitudes, I think the observation Malvina makes are still quite relevant to society writ large today.

Little Boxes

Little boxes on the hillside,
Little boxes made of ticky tacky,
Little boxes on the hillside,
Little boxes all the same.
There’s a green one and a pink one
And a blue one and a yellow one,
And they’re all made out of ticky tacky
And they all look just the same.

And the people in the houses
All went to the university,
Where they were put in boxes
And they came out all the same,
And there’s doctors and lawyers,
And business executives,
And they’re all made out of ticky tacky
And they all look just the same.

And they all play on the golf course
And drink their martinis dry,
And they all have pretty children
And the children go to school,
And the children go to summer camp
And then to the university,
Where they are put in boxes
And they come out all the same.

And the boys go into business
And marry and raise a family
In boxes made of ticky tacky
And they all look just the same.

I also, personally, love the images of the city of  “Agrestic” that Weeds married to Malvina’s words. The point was clearly made.  The first season Weeds used Reynolds’s own recording of Little Boxes as the theme song like you just heard it. The second and third seasons used versions by nearly thirty different musicians including Elvis CostelloRise Against Vids, Maestro Charlie Barnett, Kinky, Randy Newman and others arranging it from from hard rock to rap to classical in an attempt to keep the tune alive; but eventually it too began to feel all the same and was retired- well almost- until it just came back in Weeds 8th season to tie off the series with recap back to the top– full circle to end with a grand finale.

As Victor Hwang and Greg Horowitt point out in their book The Rainforest, there is a big problem with things looking all the same in business.

“The agricultural model has dominated the way we create and perceive value in business. Think about how real businesspeople behave. In the agricultural model, one usually pulls out a weed that does not belong. If you are planting corn, you want to kill the dandelions. You would normally fire the oddball employee who chooses not to build the auto part according to predetermined, detailed specifications. In the Rainforest, however, what looks like a weed might be the most valuable new plant in the entire ecosystem. Think of companies such as Google and Facebook today―they were indistinguishable from weeds only a few years ago. The oddballs are the gamechangers in innovation systems. In Rainforests, we want to nurture the weeds to grow.”


And yet it is some of the misunderstood, or frankly “unacceptable behavior” of the Botwin family that give “weeds” a bad name.

There is no doubt that Nancy Botwin is a “danger junkie extraordinaire”. Nancy continues to tease fate and somehow manages to keep her family together. Nancy’s irresponsible brother-in-law Andy has been thrown out of rabbinical school, kicked out of the army, and even started a business smuggling illegal aliens across the border — all in the name of hooking up. Surprisingly, Nancy’s oldest son, Silas, has grown up to be the real ” entrepreneur” of the family- well never mind it is marijuana he is selling. This season we are hoping that Shane’s croquet killing adventures will be over and lead him to the straight and narrow and to college, helping to restore at least some credibility to the Botwin family name.

And while all of Team Botwin’s antics, crazy making, illegal, law and moral ground breaking leave little to endorse, outside of their TV entertainment value, the overall message of this show- the idea that quirky creatives, those of us that see the world differently are an important resource and need to be included and utilized in all parts of our society, our economy and equally in government- I cannot endorse strongly enough.

It is no wonder, either, that the Botwin’s have used their creativity in completely inappropriate ways; as all too often happens in the creative world, frankly. It’s not because we, as a group, are not capable of rising to a high valuable level. It happens instead because we have no where to put all of our creative energies that will be appreciated and utilized purposefully.  There is a glass walls surrounding all of us “weeds”; it holds us all in together like a container with a lid. Trust me the glass jar is sealed. We are blocked from access, and most often not included, because after all we are “weeds” and are perceived as having little value other than as a decoration in the glass jar- something to be “viewed” not to seriously participate with or in.

The definition of insanity speaks to it all really: “If you always do what you have always done you will always get what you have always gotten.” Are we tired enough, yet, of getting the same things over and over and over again in life, big business, politics and world affairs?

Comments 11

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  3. Pingback: Lisa Canning
  4. Well put, Lisa!  I do not watch this show, which I assume is a reality show. Quite honestly, I don’t watch ANY reality shows.  I find it a waste of time to see groups of people or families doing things that are outside of the mainstream and “put on a pedistal” because they draw appropriate ratings. All those shows give creatives and Art a bad name.  How about an ETA show on cable where true artistry and ceativity is used entrepreneurially to bring the Arts into businesses and change minds.  Imagine, each week a business is transformed by a group of creatives and becomes more productive, showing the value of what we do.  These days, businesses are really concerned about the economy, and many are holding back because they’re not sure about the future.  We come in, the ETA team, and take away the worry by helping the business think more creatively about their growth during uncertain times. Call it “creative efficiency.”  I don’t know about you, but I get much more out of shows where they show unique businesses making unique products like motorcycles and huge fish tanks, or refurbishing old signs, etc.   
    There’s no substitute for hard work, thinking twice and cutting once, or entrepreneurial education like at the IAE in Chicago.  There is a substitute however, for compromising your integrity and making a quick buck.

    Steve Sowinski

  5. Steve, it is actually not a reality show. It’s a “dark comedy” and really provides pretty interesting commentary and also is just funny. You should check it out.

  6. Thanks for noticing I wrote this on my bday Jaime. It felt like a gift to myself to write it. I needed to remind myself why my continued investing matters. Our creativity counts and it needs to be fully utilized…

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Help the weeds grow or Are we tired enough, yet, of all the same?

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