The fifth season of Weeds premieres on Monday, June 8. Allie Grant, who plays Celia's [Elizabeth Perkins] lesbian daughter Isabelle, joins us to discuss what to expect from the upcoming season; what it's like working with such an amazing cast; the reaction she gets when returning home to Mississippi considering the show's subject matter and answers some reader questions.

Mike: What were your thoughts on the "Weeds" script when you first read it? Obviously your character, Isabelle, is a lot different than your characters on the Disney shows.

Allie Grant: Yeah. I remember the first table read, it was very interesting because I did the pilot when I was 10, so a large portion of the material that the adults found to be humorous was slightly over my head. I was sitting next to Alexander [Gould] at our first table read and I remember looking at each other with both of us acknowledging, "OK, what's going on?" You know, I've always read the scripts and it's always been something that's very important to me to stay involved in the series ... it's important to know what's going on whenever your character isn't around. My mom was the first one to read it and she essentially told me what the plot was, naturally it was something that was very original and we broke a lot of ground our first season.

Mike: I don't come across many people that just say, "Oh, I like "Weeds", it's okay." So many people that watch "Weeds" will say it's their favorite show.

Allie Grant: (Laughs) Aw, well thank you very much.

Mike: And you mentioned wanting to know what's going on, even when you're not in the scene. That had to help when your role expanded in the third season.

Allie Grant: It did, I became a series regular in the third season. For the first two season I was a reoccurring guest star ... and I was really rather flattered because we were in the third season of our show and it would have been simple to phase me out or left me as a reoccurring guest star; I feel very privileged that they chose what they did.

Mike: You grew up in Tupelo, Mississippi. I live in New York City now, but I grew up in Missouri. So I kind of know how it can be there... and I'm assuming Mississippi is on another level than Missouri...

Allie Grant: (Laughs) Possibly.

Mike: Did you ever get any -- and this may not be the right word, but -- 'scorn' from people back home concerning the subject matter of the show.

Allie Grant: Ohhhh! Ohhhh! Absolutely! Oh, I still get those looks when I go home. First, of course, they don't watch the show, which I didn't expect. So they're judging it on a different basis than someone who actually watches the show. You really have to look past the premise because it's actually such a small part of the actual show and the actual characters and their complexity. It really is one of their many many flaws. Of course, whenever I go home, it's definitely interesting to see how people perceive the show and how people perceive me. I've definitely gotten a few looks in the supermarket; you just have to ignore it. Essentially they don't really have any basis.

Mike: Right. If the show was just about drugs and your character being a lesbian, that's not going to be a successful show by itself. The acting's great and the storylines are great, that's what makes the show succeed.

Allie Grant: Thank you very much and that's something that's really important. To make it something that can never be classified as a stereotype.

Mike: With the storyline of your character being a lesbian and also looking at the Huskaroo [plus size model] storyline, do you think your character helps to create more acceptance?

Allie Grant: I think so. Alexander and I are really the only adults in the series. Shane and Isabelle are really the only people who can take care of these dysfunctional individuals that they have as family members. Isabelle is already grown up; she's like 40 years old. She's already taken on this ego, or this persona, of being so much older. And being so much more, I think, able and willing to accept and have a clear understanding of who she is. So to see someone who is 11 years old and is professing her sexuality, and is perfectly okay with that... I think knowing this 11 year old girl is okay with the way she is, why would it not [create acceptance]?

Mike: What can we expect to see from Isabelle in the upcoming season?

Allie Grant: This season we have some very exciting and gifted guest stars. Last season reminded me a great deal of the first season. This [upcoming] season reminds me of something I've never seen before. I always felt there was a sense of urgency with all the characters, even within Isabelle, even though she is so well put together. This season I feel like everyone is really learning to accept and come to terms with their surroundings and who they are and the cards that they've been dealt. This season Isabelle truly embraces her role in the family as the glue.

Mike: And the last season left off with a bit of a cliffhanger. Celia [Elizabeth Perkins] and Nancy [Mary Louise Parker] were in a little bit of trouble...

Allie Grant: (Laughs) just a little, right?

Mike: And Doug [Kevin Nealon], well... Doug seemed to be happier the last time we saw him...

Allie Grant: (Laughs) He did.

Mike: In season five what are we going to see happen with these storylines?

Allie Grant: I think you will get many many exciting surprises. And last year with the election, [creator] Jenji [Kohan] wanted to make it political, she wanted to interject things that meant a lot to her. So we deal a lot with immigration and human trafficking and drug trafficking. And we are still dealing with the aftermath of last season ... In typical "Weeds" fashion, I think we are dealing with the poor insanity of these people, though, the circumstances have changed entirely. Our surroundings have been altered and this season we do something that we've never done before and I'm very excited to see how people will react.

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Mike: Oh, can you talk about that?

Allie Grant: I can't... I'm so sorry (laughs).

Mike: I have a few reader questions. Do you want to do those?

Allie Grant: Oh, yeah. Sure.

Mike: First one. What was it like working on "Fanboys"? You know, that's an interesting film because it had such a cult following long before it even came out.

Allie Grant: Right, it did. The thing is, I shot it when I was 11 and it just recently came out; that was very bizarre. Jay Baruchel and Sam Huntington, they were so so lovely. The energy on the set was very very genuine and everyone was just very excited about the project. I really had a good time.

Mike: Next one, back to "Weeds", will we ever see Conrad again?

Allie Grant: I wish! I love Romany [Malco]. I don't write the shows so I don't know, but I'm pretty safe to say: I don't think so. Which is a shame because we loved that storyline and Romany's so incredible. But he has quite a career ahead of him.

Mike: That was a popular question. People feel that he was just left in Agrestic and forgotten.

Allie Grant: You know, it's very bizarre how all of that worked out. Because leaving season three, I had no idea coming back to season four that anyone would be gone. So opening up the first episode of season four and not seeing Tonye Patano, Indigo and Romany Malco was very bizarre. I suppose with Nancy leaving Agrestic she had to wipe everything clean; just to signify how much of a shark she is and how she has to keep moving, regardless of the price she has to pay.

Mike: What is Alanis Morissette's role and how is she fitting in with the cast?

Allie Grant: Alanis Morissette plays a very brief love interest for Justin Kirk. She's also a doctor who Nancy advises. I haven't met her but Justin said that she's really wonderful -- and Justin has some great scene partners this year: Jennifer Jason Leigh and Alanis Morissette -- but she's great and easy to work with and the crew really likes her. And anytime we have someone interested in our show we feel very fortunate, but Justin's really enjoyed working with her.

Mike: Last one. What's it like working with such an animated cast?

Allie Grant: It's pretty incredible. To be able to work with Mary-Louise Parker, who I think is one of the most incredibly talented individuals I've ever known, is pretty remarkable. Elizabeth Perkins, who is so insanely comical and so great at what she does and what she knows... I just feel very fortunate. Hunter [Parrish] was the lead in "Spring Awakenings" and was so brilliant; Alexander and I have grown up on the show and, of course, Kevin Nealon is the best. Justin Kirk is one of the coolest people I've ever known. I realize I'm in great company.

"Mike's Pulse" is a column written by transplanted Midwesterner and current New Yorker Mike Ryan. For any compliments or complaints -- preferably the former -- you may contact Mike directly at
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