Monday, July 28, 2008

If It's Monday ...

On Monday and Tuesday evenings at around 10:30 p.m. (EDT), this blog begins to get a spike of visitors, nearly all searching for Hunter Parrish with one modifier or another. This corresponds to the weekly broadcast of a new episode of Weeds, the dark Showtime comedy that features Parrish as Silas Botwin, the elder son of Mary-Louise Parker's character, Nancy Botwin, a suburban drug dealer in southern California.

Parrish is so popular here, in fact, that searches for his name add up to at least 22.2 percent of all visits to this blog. (Technically, 22.2 percent of the last 4,000 visits -- a big chunk by any estimation.)

This is odd because a Google Trends analysis shows that the name Hunter Parrish -- as talented and studly as he might be -- barely registers:



This low level of interest is demonstrated in relative terms when one compares the popularity of searches for "Hunter Parrish" with a celebrity of similar age and attractiveness, actor William Moseley of the Narnia movies:



So it must be something about this blog, in particular, in which interest in Hunter Parrish converges with other topics that results in disproportionate popularity. (Among "cute guys," the next most popular searches that lead here are Josh Hutcherson and Tyler Whitney -- one a movie actor, the other a political activist. Aaron Carter used to be a rival but his popularity has dissipated.)

It seems that the number one question on the mind of those searching for Hunter Parrish is this: Is Hunter Parrish gay? The secondary concern seems to be a desire to see him either shirtless or nude.

I don't have any shirtless or nude pictures of Hunter Parrish, but I do know of a video with him whistling. It's a promotional clip from Showtime in which the network was challenging fans to whistle "Little Boxes," the song that served as the theme of Weeds during its first three seasons.


I have no doubt that seekers of Hunter Parrish will be pleased to learn of the next step in his career. He'll be starring in a Broadway musical:
The producers of Spring Awakening announce “Weeds” Star Hunter Parrish will join Broadway’s groundbreaking musical hit in the central role of Melchior, the brilliant young radical, on August 18. Featured in Vanity Fair’s cover feature “Hollywood’s New Wave-The Hottest Kids in Hollywood" spread (August issue), on newsstands July 9, Hunter can currently be seen as Silas, the rabble-rousing older son of Mary-Louise Parker on the highly acclaimed Showtime series WEEDS. The show’s 4th season premiered last month. Moviegoers can next see Parrish on the big screen in “17 Again” opposite Zac Efron and Matthew Perry. Other screen roles include “Freedom Writers” with Hilary Swank and Patrick Dempsey, and Barry Sonnefeld’s comedy “RV” playing the son of Jeff Daniels and Kristen Chenoweth.

I have always hoped that my passion for the theatre would eventually lead me to Broadway, says Parrish. "Spring Awakening is a truly one-of-a-kind show with its timeless story, commanding music and innovative imagery. I am elated to have the opportunity to become a part of it."
As it happens, the Jewish Daily Forward last week featured an article about Weeds that took issue with the portrayal of some of the Jewish characters in the show.

Written by Adam Wilson, whose other recent work appears in a book entitled Dirty Words: A Literary Encyclopedia of Sex, the article begins:
Who were the first Jewish potheads? The Old Testament seems filled with early precursors: Daniel, the interpreter of colorful dreams; Ezekiel, with his visions of flying chariots; perhaps even David, whose tunes of ethereal majesty were conceivably inspired by some seriously bitter herbs. Other scholars might go back to Genesis — Adam and Eve in that ripe, green pleasure-palace, hungry enough to eat forbidden apples. And then there’s slightly more recent history: Allen Ginsberg extolled the virtues of marijuana in pulsing, desperate verse, and Leonard Michaels wrote short stories about Jews on New York City’s Lower East Side getting stoned with sweet-smiling shiksas and then devouring leftover kugel sent over by their own mothers.

So perhaps it should come as no surprise that Showtime’s series “Weeds,” a quasi-sitcom about an attractive, widowed suburbanite who sells marijuana in order to support her family and her addiction to iced lattes, is filled with Jews, half-Jews and attractive women married — or once married — to Jews. Over its first three seasons, “Weeds,” more than any other show, has created Jewish characters that defy stereotype. Andy Botwin, the brother-in-law/partner-in-pot-dealing of our protagonist, Nancy, is a blue-eyed, fair-haired Jewish man with toned triceps and a fierce slacker wit. His only talent is his ability to create delightfully unkosher gourmet meals. Andy’s brother — Nancy’s deceased husband, Judah, who we see in dream sequences and in home movies — is played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan, the muscle-bound heartthrob who captured the loins of Katherine Heigl and plenty of American women in his role as Denny Duquette on ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy.” Then there’s Dean Hodes, a Jewish lawyer more interested in getting stoned than in making money. As we learn in one episode, he is anatomically very well endowed.
Wilson expresses dismay at a recent turn in the plot and character presentation of Weeds:

These characters are exciting because they both play on and contradict our expectations about Jewish types. They are not old yiddlers munching gefilte fish, or nebbished-out neurotic nerds (like Larry David), or money-hungry misanthropes (like Larry David). Instead, the Jews on “Weeds” come from a contemporary Jewish America in which some Jews have blue eyes, some yeshiva employees are into S&M and some Semitic men have large penises.

All of which is why it is so disappointing that the show’s fourth season, which premiered in early June, has introduced a totally uninteresting Jewish character who lives up to every negative stereotype there is about Jews.

Wilson is especially perturbed by the character of Lenny, played by Albert Brooks, who is "a creep and a jerk":
What irks me about Lenny is not that he is a creep and a jerk — the world is filled with Jewish creeps and jerks, and it would be unfair to ask that all Jewish characters have redeeming qualities — but that his creepiness and his jerkiness seem directly tied to his Jewishness. (When Lenny plays Bubbe’s concentration camp numbers in the lottery, it’s hard not to see it as reiterating the stereotype that Jews exploit their tragedies for financial gain.)
Wilson will no doubt be happy to learn -- if he hasn't already -- that Lenny's character arc ended after the first four episodes of Weeds' new season. Albert Brooks has left the building.

But Hunter Parrish is still there. And for that I am grateful, since it brings new eyes here -- even if they don't find the shirtlessness they are looking for.

Update, July 31, 10:00 p.m.: The numbers keep rising. Searches for "Hunter Parrish" (including various spellings) amount to a minimum of 26.9 percent of visitors to this blog. And I don't even offer any actual nude or shirtless pictures of him!


1 comment:

Peter Orvetti said...

It's less odd to me that folks are looking for "Hunter Parrish shirtless" than that the sort of folks who skim the Web for shirtless teen actors are watching "Weeds" in the first place.