Netflix’s Disjointed caters to a very specific audience — it’s all in the title, if you appreciate a good pun — but that does not mean that the streaming giant’s summer comedy is only for those who would enjoy a ’90s-esque sitcom set in a medical marijuana dispensary run by Kathy Bates (Titanic, American Horror Story).
Bates plays store owner Ruth Whitefeather Feldman, who runs Ruth’s Alternative Caring along with her son Travis (Aaron Moten) and an eclectic array of store employees. Disjointed uses the backdrop of a California dispensary complete with its unique set of workers and customers to showcase the benefits of controlled, legal marijuana use that are often left out of the modern representation of cannabis in our culture.
This is achieved primarily through the use of one character, the store’s security guard, Carter (Tone Bell). An Iraq War veteran, Carter suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. The showrunners, Chuck Lorre and David Javerbaum, use this to build a storyline that follows Carter’s experiences medicating with marijuana for the first time.
Disjointed balances the semi-serious aspect of Carter’s character with a never-ending slew of weed-related humor, complete with “Strain O’ The Day” YouTube videos (including one hilariously funny play on the Schrodinger’s cat paradox) and marijuana-themed advertisements in each episode.
While the show’s humor feels forced at times and it is definitely not for everyone — Rotten Tomatoes published a “Summer TV Scorecard” that ranked Disjointed as the worst show of the summer, giving it a 17 percent based on 24 reviews — it will undoubtedly be a hit within the community at which the jokes are aimed.
Rather than try to accommodate the needs of outside viewers, the showrunners focus all their energy on making the show as enjoyable for cannabis consumers as possible. Despite this, Disjointed includes enough classic sitcom tropes to appease most average viewers as well.
All comedy aside, the new Netflix show does shine light on the growing medical marijuana industry, something even more timely for those watching in Maryland. After about four years of delays, the state approved its first medical marijuana dispensary (the Wellness Institute of Maryland in Frederick) over the summer, and cultivators began growing their first plants last week.
At its core, Disjointed is a stoner comedy about stoners, but it strives to be so much more by tackling the big-picture issues that surround marijuana in a fresh way. Rather than continuing to perpetuate negative stereotypes about marijuana, the show details the positives that can come with cannabis culture.
Disjointed challenges the typical sitcom, combining the best parts of workplace comedy and bar-room banter by focusing on cannabis instead of alcohol. Our protagonists no longer have to congregate in their local bar after a long day at work to share their stories — they can do it in the middle of their lunch break, all while sharing a smoke, no less.