Monday, February 5, 2007

WEEDS: Hero of the Sissies

I am an authority on sissies.

Freshman year of college, I wrote a term paper on Eric Blore, an extremely underappreciated actor who costarred in almost all of the Fred Astaire/ Ginger Rogers movies of the 1930’s, most notably Top Hat, where he portrayed Bates, a bumbling manservant who saves the day by posing as a priest and fake-marrying Rogers’ character and her stylist. Aside from being categorically awesome, Eric Blore helped to define the stereotypical “sissy,” a “fussy and officious” character representatives of a quiet queer Hollywood subculture. (Basically, he was gay without being gay.) The sissy is usually a befuddled little man who looks like he couldn't grow facial hair if he tried. He has never kissed a girl, but he's not gay.

I wrote what I believe to be the only scholarly work devoted entirely to Eric Blore. (If you know of another, please email me, because I’d love to read it.)

I have now been conditioned to recognize sissies in modern cinema and television, and I always, always, always want them to save the day. Examples of modern sissies include early-series Chandler Bing and George O’Malley. For those of you familiar with the late, great Alias (get used to me singing its praises, because my television existence pretty much revolved around it for five spectacular years), Eric Weiss fits perfectly into this category. Weiss was the goofy-cute antithesis of Vaughn’s straight-man good-guy, and he took Pilates classes and liked ├ęclairs. (Today, of course, it was much more acceptable to make jokes about these characters’ sexuality; sissiness in the ‘30’s was much quieter.)

Anyway, the best example I have of a modern sissy is Sanjay from Weeds. This college student-come-marijuana associate is as awkward and nervous as they come. He’s sweet but a little misguided, particularly in his advances toward Nancy Botwin.

Ever loyal to the band of sissies, I want Sanjay to save the day, and I believe he will do so when the third season of Weeds premieres this summer.

The second season ended in utter chaos. Nancy and Conrad are in the crosshairs of rifles aimed by the Armenians and U-Turn’s Army. The pot that her deal revolves around has been stolen by problem-child Silas, so she has absolutely nothing to show for herself aside from the final fuck-you Silas left in her stash safe: a stolen Drug-Free Zone sign.

All signs point to disaster. Nancy and Conrad are utterly fucked, as is Silas who’s about to get busted by the cops and Celia. None of their posse is around to back them up. Even Uncle Andy, who I would only call for help in the most dire of circumstances, is off with Abumchuk the Angry Eskimo chasing Krazy Kat and Shane on their way to Mexico.

Which is why I am thrilled to predict that in the season premiere, Sanjay will save the day.

Last we saw Sanjay, Nancy Botwin tucked him into a closet in the grow-house, making him promise not to emerge until he was sure danger had passed. Sanjay, who loves Nancy in the same way my beloved Bates loved his master Horace Hardwick, won’t hide away while a shitshow happens out in the kitchen. This boy burned down a bakery to keep Nancy from going under! He’s smart, he’s loyal, and if I’m right, Nancy just happened to lock him up in the makeshift growhouse artillery.

Sanjay, hearing shouting from the other side of the closet door, quickly comes up with a strategy. He crawls out of the closet with at least five guns on his person. He stealthily creeps down the corner and comes up behind U-Turn’s army in the kitchen. He meets Conrad’s gaze. (I hold no hope that Sanjay, Nancy, and Conrad can blink in Morse code like the Bristows can, but that would really be ideal.) Sanjay shoots a few intruders before any of the bad guys even realize he’s there, effectively turning the tables on these fuckers trying to steal from Pants and Company. Looking like a badass, he takes control of the situation. He’s got a gun in each hand, one aimed at an Armenian, the other at U-Turn. He tosses weapons to Conrad and Nancy, and the roles are reversed.

Well, maybe not reversed, but at least now Conrad and Nancy aren’t staring helplessly down the barrels of guns. Where it goes after this is up to Jenji Kohan and the rest of her staff, or maybe I’ll make another startling prediction before the season premiere.

Until then, I remain, as ever, a champion of the sissies everywhere. Especially Sanjay.

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