Did you know drugs are a problem in middle-class suburban America?

I know, I was as shocked as you to learn that kids and indiscriminate adults might well be smoking cigarettes even as I type. And that’s not all: By the time you wake up tomorrow morning, it’s almost a certainty your street will be flooded with half-smoked joints, white powder and used syringes.

In fact, if you live in the suburbs, or anywhere that resembles a suburb, or anywhere at all, your neighbor almost certainly makes or sells the drugs around your community. Maybe you even are that neighbor.

Awareness. That’s a word that we all need more of in our vocabularies. That’s why we at Stars & Popcorn have taken this time to create a very special…


This Evening’s Contenders:


Mary-Louise Parker as Nancy “The Botanist” Botwin


Breaking Bad

Bryan Cranston as Walter “Heisenberg” White


As far as I can tell in my extensive research, America’s drug problem can be traced back to sometime around 2005 when Mary-Louise Parker started selling marijuana in Southern California under the pseudonym Nancy Botwin to fund her inexplicable urge to buy iced coffees and Priuses. But by 2008, drugs had spread as far as Albuquerque, New Mexico as even America’s most boring chemistry teacher, Bryan Cranston (as Walter White), began refining and cooking sweet, sweet crystal meth.

These exploits have been well documented on Showtime’s Weeds and AMC’s Breaking Bad, respectively, but nothing seems to have been done to curb the problem of middle-class white people disgracing their families and communities by selling drugs just because they stand to make stupid-enormous amounts of money. As we at Stars & Popcorn cannot condone this sort of behavior, we’ve used the latest in scientific, sociological and psychological technology to determine which dandruff stain on society’s pressed black suit is the bigger threat to the common good. We’ve even used 10 infallible metrics to prepare a handy data sheet for the Drug Enforcement Agency.

We’re not in it for the reward money (credit cards and checks are also acceptable—no C.O.D.s, please); we’re in it for the children.

1. Motivation

It turns out both Nancy Botwin and Walter White share a motivation, just on slightly different timelines. In both cases, at least ostensibly, the suburbanite-turned-drug-dealer is trying to provide for a family left at a loss due to a dead patriarch. The only difference is, whereas Nancy’s husband Judah is already dead when she begins her career, Walter White is the patriarch trying to provide for his own death upon learning he has cancer.


However, as the show proceeds, Nancy’s motivation becomes almost strictly material—once you’ve gone and bought a new Prius, you come to appreciate a certain upper-middle-class lifestyle. Walter, on the other hand, also has the shame of an entire life’s worth of wasted talent and intelligence, of students openly mocking him, of basic pent-up rage at employers who took advantage of him backing him up. Sure, the money is nice, and whatever, it’s better than life insurance for a former teacher, but how sweet is it to wind up rich enough to buy out a business that once drove you crazy just because you can? Walter wants nothing more than to feed the pathetic addiction of his city’s worst people, and then kick everyone who has ever wronged him in the balls. Helping his unappreciative family is all secondary.

ADVANTAGE: Walter White

2. Product

Here we have a battle between Walter White’s famously pure blue meth and Nancy Botwin’s MILF Weed. At first, it seems like we might have a real competition on our hands, but let’s look a little closer:

White, a scientist whose talents were drastically underutilized teaching high school chemistry, has created a brand of meth just a decimal point away from being pure, providing meth connoisseurs (that’s a thing, right?) the most intense bump they’ve ever had. And, if the show is to be believed, that’s really saying something on the rough-and-tumble streets of Albuquerque.

Meth Connoisseur

Not even once.

Botwin, on the other hand, once had a great product—the aforementioned MILF Weed, a strain so great Snoop Dogg improvised a rap about it—but she was only its distributer. It was actually developed by her comrade Conrad. But whatever, it’s still her brand—or it was, until she pissed off the wrong people and got run out of town. More recently, Botwin is living something of a nomadic lifestyle bartering with local dealers for scraps so she can make and distribute low-grade hash. In fact, it’s been almost eight years in the show’s timeline since she has had a product truly worth selling.

ADVANTAGE: Walter White

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3 Responses to Versus Mode! Nancy Botwin Vs. Walter White

  1. Allison says:

    Very well-written comparison. As an advocate for Weeds, I think you painted a pretty accurate assessment of Nancy. I have never seen Breaking Bad but I keep hearing good things, so I will have to check it out to understand the other half of this article. On a separate note, I was mildly offended by your cerebral palsy comment.

  2. Jake says:

    The palsy comment was a tad bit on the borderline of offensive but he really did not make it up he was just referring to a comment made by an person who actually has cerebral palsy. I guess its one of those touchy taboo subjects.

  3. Robert says:

    I disagree that the motivations are the same. Walt is doing it for his ego. He has openly rejected charity from Gretchen and hated the idea of his son trying to get help. The reason his family is so hostile is because Walt is clearly ashamed of them and wants to be the knight in shining armor.

    Nancy, however, is someone in way over her head who keeps getting pulled back into the business. Her motivation was always her family because she had become to accustomed to Judah being the breadwinner that she was unable to make money legitimately. Let’s also not forget the black and white difference between marijuana and methamphetamine

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