Warning: potential spoiler, you're reading this article at your own risk.
This review compares Weeds and Disjointed because they both use cannabis as a central element and therefore may appeal to a similar audience. So is it going to be hashish vs. herb, vape vs. smoke or CBD vs. THC? Perhaps a more apt comparison would be Breaking Bad vs. The Big Bang Theory.
The real question would be: do we need more comedies where Cannabis lifestyles are portrayed? Maybe we do, maybe we don't. But anyway, let's put both under the spotlight
Who are these players?
In the left corner a middle-aged bimbo running an illegal drug enterprise and in the right corner the most adorable hippie-grandma you could wish for, running her Medical Cannabis dispensary in an urban area.
Now, this is as close as the two Cannaheroes will ever be from each other: the very opposite corners. On Weeds Nancy Botwin is flirting with politicians and cartels, drifting away from her debts with kids in arms and true psychopaths among her friends. While Disjointed tells the daily tale of Ruth, post 70's pothead supported by a group of peaceful local stoners in a Cannabis-medical state.
Except that our heroes are both single mothers they don't share much and probably wouldn't be even friends in real life. Their interest in Cannabis is different. Ruth from disjointed is an activist Cannabis lawyer and dedicated her life energy to this plant. Nancy didn't choose to deal with the troubles and the opportunities brought by Weeds while things simply came by accident.
For an experienced cannabis user, there may be some irritation with the show's name "Disjointed." There is an amusing pun in there, but it reveals a deeper misconception about cannabis use. The dictionary definition says: "Lacking a coherent sequence or connection."
Now let's take a look at some of the synonyms for disjointed: disconnected, without unity, fragmented, disorganized, disordered, mixed up, incoherent, confused, erratic, wandering, aimless, directionless… and the list goes on and on.
The particular feeling of being ‘disjointed' often occurs to inexperienced Cannabis users who may feel disorientation, possible time distortion and sometimes excessive muscle relaxation. It's the famous ‘high' effect coming essentially from the THC compound which could make you look and sound like a blithering idiot if you can't handle your weed.
But being able to handle Cannabis daily as a functional citizen is precisely the deal for every experienced user, and this goes from medical to recreational consumption.
That is why it can be so difficult to evaluate the impact of THC levels on individuals' behaviors when it comes to legislation concerning, e.g., driving. With alcohol the test is simple; X mg of ethanol per Kg of bodyweight is too much. With cannabis, a single joint may knock an inexperienced user to the floor whereas a regular user may be barely affected. This disparity exists to a far lesser extent with a glass of wine. There is also the more important issue that cannabis takes far longer to leave the body than alcohol and may be detected a week later, far after any psychoactive effects are gone. Of course, no one should ever drive under the influence of either alcohol or cannabis, but the fact is that determining what "under the influence" means is difficult.
The difference between a first time user and a regular could be one of the reasons why the Dank and Dabby characters from Disjointed are so pitiful to the Cannabis connoisseurs, but we'll get back to these two later down here.
Why Nancy hits the spot while Ruth misses the pot
We all know that Cannabis has never been a Boy Scout business no matter the legal system in force and no matter when in time. Some even say that Cannabusiness is addictive in itself just like growing the plant can turn to be. If business were a sport then dealing with Cannabis would probably be the extreme version of it.
If you have been anywhere near a significant Cannabusiness the last 60 years, you will know that this kind of activity always involves secrecy, danger, and unpredictability. The security issue around Cannabusiness is fundamental from production to dispensary shelves. That's why the erratic security guard in Disjointed turns it from comedy to drama.
To a certain point, Ruth in Disjointed runs her dispensary as if it was a local organic grocery store. The stories are light and superficial. With Disjointed, cannabis is merely a MacGuffin, sure you could say the same about Walter White's Blue Sky, but Breaking Bad was not trying to appeal to methamphetamine enthusiasts. Disjointed could be taking place on a cruise boat, a hospital or even an elderly social club it wouldn't make much difference.
The use of canned laughter is always contentious, and in Disjointed it often destroys your sense of immersion in the show. It can be used effectively, usually with a live audience (e.g., Seinfeld) but often is a show relies on it, it is because the show is not very funny (The Big Bang Theory).
On Weeds' side, the danger and the unexpected are hanging about at every corner. The danger of Nancy misbehaving promises that each next episode could be a blast, and it often actually is.
When it comes to production, distribution, eye-candy, and landscapes Weeds feel like a real movie while Disjointed looks like a cheap sitcom, written quickly, shot quickly and probably as quickly binged as forgotten too.
Dank and Dabby
This couple of characters embodies of all the excessive behaviors and clichés around Cannabis. While Dank and Dabby are funny for a minute, their performance ends up making the show a bit queasy and vaguely unpleasant.
Since it's a matter of taste and to support objectively minded choices, here's a list of pros and cons so advised readers would make their own choices
- Endless (8 seasons)
- Breathtaking, bouncing, nonlinear
- Everything about Nancy Botwin
- The original soundtrack, the movie quality in general
- Endless (8 Seasons)
- Some episodes lots of talking /unbalanced content
- Plastic weed props
- Comedy featuring Mexican Narcs: bitter mix
- Attaching characters
- The dispensary atmosphere when Dank and Dabby are away
- Good jokes about weed and strains
- Very poetic and friendly approach of PTSD, ADHD, and other panic illnesses
- Moments of pure poetry portraying the effects of weed with cartoons and animations
- Canned laughing should be considered a first-class drug and made illegal
- Too short (1 season)
- Dank and Dabby to more than one account
- Minorities & communities portrayed as caricatures
- Plastic Weed props
- Feels cheap
- Negative image of Cannabis users to more than one account
The name of the show was not a good start for the so-called stoners. Yes, there is this lot of second degree, and the human feelings are often fair and touching. But the canned laughing and the cheapness of the production just make you feel that disjointed missed the goal: entertaining stoners. Otherwise, why would Netflix release their weed strains in cans simultaneously?
To put an end to this chapter, we may say that laughing WITH stoners sounded like a good idea but laughing AT stoners could also play like a boomerang. Happy Weed-end.