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Disjointed Coughs Out Some Tired Dope Humor

Cheech and Chong were decades ago, but Netflix show leans on the same old pot jokes.

'Disjointed''Disjointed,' NetflixDisjointed. Available now on Netflix.

Way back when, my college newspaper ran a review of a Cheech and Chong show under a headline that qualified as remarkably confessional for the time: "Dope Humor Has Its Limits." I don't know if we've got to make royalty payments to whatever youthful copy editor wrote that headline, but I can't think of a single other thing to say about Netflix's new sitcom Disjointed.

Dopers so wrecked they can't talk. Dopers so wrecked they can't move. Dopers so wrecked they use the Heimlich maneuver to make each other exhale dope smoke rings. (Okay, that one's new, at least for the first five seconds.) Basically, there's not a gag in Disjointed that wouldn't have fit into—or worn itself out as quickly as—a Cheech and Chong sketch or an early 1970s give-me-another-brownie flick like The Groove Tube.

But even back then, the driving force of cannabis comedy—hey, man, they're smoking weed right there on the screen, my parents would be so freaked—lasted about as long as the pizza you ordered to counter the munchies. These days, with reefer madness reduced to reefer eccentricity (one in five Americans lives in states where it's pretty easy to find a legal joint), the potency is even slighter. If Disjointed were actually dope, it would be growing-along-the-river skankweed.

The wispy premise of Disjointed is that its dope-addled characters get wasted under the pretense of working in a Southern California medical-marijuana dispensary. Kathy Bates plays Ruth Whitefeather Feldman, the senescent hippie owner, who says she's preaching "the gospel of marijuana: the miraculous plant that has the power to heal the sick, calm the afflicted, and usher in a golden age of people of people not being such dicks all the time."

Mostly, she's just oversampling her own product, with occasional timeouts to bicker with her son Travis (Aaron Moten, The Night Of), an MBA with more secular motives: "Petty soon, somebody is going to become the Walmart of cannabis. Why not us?"

Then there are employees: Jenny (Elizabeth Ho, Melissa & Joey), who introduces herself in one of the clinic's Internet ads as "your tokin' Asian," whose tiger mom thinks she's a surgeon; Olivia (Elizabeth Alderfer, Game Day), a refugee from a meth-blighted midwestern town who harbors secret doubts about the benignity of drugs; and Carter (Tone Bell, Truth Be Told), who has a secret of his own, one not usually associated with comedy.

If the substance of Disjointed seems straight out of 1972, so does its structure. It's less a sitcom than a muddled series of stream-of-semi-consciousness sketches, punctuated by cut-ins of the clinic's commercials, kind of a stoner version of Laugh-In. Though for you 1980s connoisseurs, there's a running gag in which Jennie speaks Chinese to her mother—that's it, no jokes, no punch lines, just the sound of Chinese—to the uproarious delight of the canned laugh track that's been appended to the show. Not since John Hughes foreshadowed every appearance of a Chinese character named Long Duck Dong with the crashing sound of a gong in 1984's Sixteen Candles has a producer or director deemed Asian ethnicity so innately amusing.

The producer in question is Chuck Lorre, the mastermind of The Big Bang Theory, Mom, and Two and a Half Men, whose association with Disjointed is as inexplicable as quantum physics after a bong full of Maui Wowie. "Back in the day, marijuana was a cause," says Ruth. "Now it's just a commodity." Marijuana humor, too.

Photo Credit: 'Disjointed,' Netflix

Contributing Editor Glenn Garvin is the author of Everybody Had His Own Gringo: The CIA and the Contras and (with Ana Rodriguez) Diary of a Survivor: Nineteen Years in a Cuban Women's Prison. He writes about television for the Miami Herald.

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  • Roger Wilco||

    Its a post-2010 sitcom with a laugh track.

    Thats all you need to know

  • Microaggressor||

    As soon as I heard the laugh track I knew it was going to be bad. But holy shit, I wasn't expecting it to be this bad. And I was stoned. I felt like there was something better I could be doing with my time.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    I never found pot humor to be funny. I remember movies where everyone giggled merely when someone lit up. "Hey look, Stacy Keach is lighting a really big doobie!"

    *doubles over in laughter*

  • ||

    I never found pot humor to be funny.

    And the parts of pot movies I did find funny or the funniest parts weren't specifically pot related.

    Culture clash and slapstick are timeless and the pot itself is a pretty shallow comedy prop at best.

  • Zeb||

    There are a few "stoner" movies I enjoy, but even in those the more directly weed related jokes kind of miss the mark.
    Cheech and Chong were at least original at the time and absurdist enough that it didn't really matter.

  • SKR||

    Cheech in a pink tutu and mouse ears will always make me at least giggle.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    The wispy premise of Disjointed is that its dope-addled characters get wasted under the pretense of working in a Southern California medical-marijuana dispensary.

    Really? A better show would have suit-and-tie types trying to corner the limited, highly regulated market. I dunno, like... like... House of Cards but for pot.

  • Brandybuck||

    I would watch that.

  • SKR||

    In reality they would be Russian Armenians.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    The producer in question is Chuck Lorre, the mastermind of The Big Bang Theory, Mom, and Two and a Half Men

    Ah... now it all makes sense.

  • Ska||

    The perfect storm of garbage TV.

  • Microaggressor||

    I never understood the appeal of Big Bang Theory. It felt like nerd-blackface.

  • SKR||

    It is nerd blackface

  • Tony||

    I watched the whole season because I am a Kathy Bates fan. It could have used better writing, no canned laughter, and less 90s sitcom music. But then it would just be Weeds.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    I had you pegged as more of a Master Bates fan.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    So it's a standard Chuck Lorre project, then.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    The producer in question is Chuck Lorre, the mastermind of The Big Bang Theory, Mom, and Two and a Half Men, whose association with Disjointed is as inexplicable as quantum physics after a bong full of Maui Wowie

    The structure you're describing sounds exactly the same as all of Lorre's shows. It also means this will likely be very successful.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    In my thankfully limited experience, the hallmark of Chuck Lorre's shows is they always go for the laziest, pottiest, lowest-common-denominator punchline even when the joke itself is building towards something that could conceivably be funny.

    Then again, Lorre's shows have made him like a bajillion dollars, so what do i know about entertainment.

  • Maven Houlihan||

    I watched about 10 minutes then, gave up. Not funny, no plot, nothing educational, informative or entertaining. Don't waste your time.

  • Zeb||

    I made it though one episode and agree with your assessment.

  • Principal Spittle||

    Carter (Tone Bell, Truth Be Told), who has a secret of his own, one not usually associated with comedy.

    Am I supposed to watch this crappy show that you dont recommend to find out what his secret is?

  • Jake W||

    Netflix original. Three women and a black guy. I don't even have to watch it to know it sucks.

  • jenny rao||

    We many time are in need of the hack brawl stars and so we are now at this website and all we want is the cheats for the free coins and ball.

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