Disjointed to disconnected
Feb 25, 2018 · 7 min read
When I found out Disjointed was cancelled after its first season, I was like, “Hm. I didn’t expect it to get a second season.” Mind you this was before I knew that it had a 20 episode contract that would be aired in two parts. But, to be honest, I truly felt vindicated. Like everything I’ve been talking about on my Instagram played out on a screen for the world outside of the cannabis hashtags to critique, flop and burn.
Just like many of my readers, I was actually really excited to have some of my favorite things combined — weed and binging on a show. So when Disjointed was birthed from the loins of Netflix, I was more than ready to sit down with a blunt, some snacks of all sorts and a readiness for some real cannabis representation.
Within the first few seconds, I was assaulted by the brightest of florescent lights and the corniest of laugh tracks. It only took me a couple episodes to know that my expectations were way too high (no pun intended). Granted I’ve never been someone to actually think sitcoms were funny or relevant to my black life — especially being that sitcoms just make me think of white people on TV acting like they never cross paths with black people or any other POC, for that matter. But I went against my instincts and took a leap of faith, only to be burned again and again and again.
I instantly felt confused as to why the creators and main writers, Chuck Lorre and David Javerbaum (who, to my knowledge, have little to no cannabis background) would think it was edgy to give Kathy Bates a mixed child who has no relationship with his black father. To add insult to injury, they also made his character obsessed with white women, to the point that they literally had him break into a Malibu’s Most Wanted rap number, where he’s jigging and jiving over his love for “white girls and weed.” Clumsily and self-hatingly saying lines like, “I gotta blonde on her back saying ‘Black Lives Matter.’” *insert laugh track* Like yikes, glad to know the only time Black Lives Matter is mentioned is in the context of a black dick in a white woman. Let us not forget this was written by white men who thought this was “provocative” and “funny” (this obviously includes Chuck Lorre, best known for creating exclusively white sitcoms. I’ll get to him in a minute). The theme of interracial dating comes up a lot in this show, especially since every black male character is in an interracial relationship. Two out of three of them are with white women and the third is with an Asian woman who introduces herself as “your tokin’ Asian.” *insert laugh track*
Chuck Lorre (also known for other radical and provocative greats like The Big Bang Theory, Two and a Half Men and Mom) said in an interview with IndieWire that, “It was fun after 30 years of network television, to have a character say exactly what you want them to say. But that freedom comes with a price. It can be abused. It’s just a judgment call, as to when it’s appropriate and when it is lazy.”
Well, they obviously didn’t get the right tone for this one, considering it got cancelled after its first season. In the “white girls and weed song,” the lyrics say, “Gotta bitch named Tina that I’m loving like Ike…” *insert laugh track* Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think it takes much to come to the realization that joking about the amount of abuse Tina Tuner suffered isn’t appropriate. Especially if we take into account that black women are 35% more likely than white women to experience intimate partner and domestic abuse — this same violence is one of the leading causes of death amongst black women and girls. And how do we see Black Women represented in Disjointed? As a paranoid conspiracy theorist. It’s incredible that they would develop Cheryl’s character in a way that goes against the grain in the worst possible ways. They completely ignored the fact that most social causes within the United States are in one way or another lead and carried by black women (gay rights, ‘Me Too’ , 2017 Alabama Senate election, Mothers of Modern Gynecology), but are typically replaced for more digestible white faces. This portrayal of a Black Woman is so harmful and dangerous because our issues aren’t taken seriously — whether it be higher birth mortality rates, cultural appropriation of our hair or the silence of our mental health struggles, it’s not for your shitty sitcom to play with.
I think the funniest thing about the show isn’t even the show itself, but the issue that Chuck Lorre and David Javerbaum (former head writer for The Daily Show) completely missed their mark of a “Cheers-like show” that had “regular workplace comedy, with wacky customers and lovable employees.” Not once when I watched this show did I think, “Wow, Kathy Bates acting like every other Pumpkin Spice Feminist while exploiting and fetishizing her son’s blackness to be able to make racial comments regarding her child and employees is so refreshing!” The show’s constant reliance on racial humor and lazy, overused stonertypes made an already-outdated idea of a sitcom, even more off-putting. I mean, like seriously, if I’m at work and my white boss and co-workers start chanting “chocolate wontons” at me and my boo — you can catch me at the EEOC office the next day.
My theory going into this was that this show was just created because there’s so much potential to make a lot of money in the cannabis-industry, with little to no effort. To be the first cannabis-themed sitcom meant there wasn’t really a possibility it could flop, because they banked on stoners to make up the market, to keep it afloat — and then over time, it would generate a cult following like The Big Bang Theory and leave the actual cannabis community wondering how the fuck the show is still on. Crazily enough, my theory was proven pretty spot on by one of the creators, David Javerbaum:
“I mean, people are watching Netflix stoned with or without our show,” he points out. “By the millions, I would imagine. If the only people who watch us are stoned people who watch Neflix, that’s an enormous audience. And that would be enough.”
These lazy and problematic reasons for creating Disjointed aren’t unheard of or even shocking (considering all you need to become successful and legal in the canna industry is money, a recycled ass idea and a different name). It doesn’t help that anything that has a pot leaf on it sells no matter if it works or not. We, the cannabis community, are considered low-hanging fruit and we continuously accept it!
In another interview with David Javerbaum, when essentially asked if his show is relevant and in touch with what’s happening in cannabis, he dropped this little nugget in an interview with Decider (the NY Post’s industry site):
“The show is about the characters, so my hope is that it’s much more of a character-driven show than a pot-driven show. People tune in for characters more than for issues… There’s an anti-pot character starting in the second episode, but I didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about the show’s socio-cultural place in the real world. One of the thousand things I learned working for Jon Stewart was that wondering what role your show has in a larger context is a recipe for disaster.”
Cannabis, like so many other things that are tied to marginalized groups in the United States, has a dark history and a complicated present. If you act like none of that is happening because you’re more concerned about the character development (that never happened), your show comes across as the impostor that it really is. Because, if the characters are supposed to be involved with cannabis and the betterment of it, why wouldn’t social issues related to cannabis intersect with the characters’? This is what I mean by lazy. Disjointed had the funding, backing, actors and writers to create a platform to comfortably address the social issues that they almost mindlessly brought up, i.e. each time Carter’s PTSD is brought up, it’s only shown as a trippy animation or with Ruth ending their conversation with a stonertype — acting as though she was too high to remember what he had said seconds before. Why be so explicit about ignoring a veteran’s mental health, when this is an actual problem in our society? They could have used his character to talk shit about the VA — that would have been something exciting, relevant and not hard to do.
This show is the most frustrating thing to watch because I’m seeing everything I hate about the cannabis community/industry being played out like it’s really a fucking joke. But the annoyance I feel towards Disjointed is nothing compared to my resentment towards the cannabis industry. Chuck Lorre and David Javerbaum went to a few cannabis conventions, looked around and saw a bunch of white men that think they can get pussy in exchange for a bag of shake, and they built characters around all of that garbage. The infamous Dr. Dina (who insists the show Weeds was inspired by her) was even hired to be a “cannabis-consultant,” where she sat in writers meetings, basically making sure it was realistic. Well, she did a great job at that. The cannabis community/industry is so far removed from society’s pressure to do better for others, to be more progressive, to stop acting so sleazy.
Disjointed really fucking sucked but it got cancelled and soon will become irrelevant flop of a show. But the cannabis industry continues to grow using cheap methods without thinking about how it’s constant practices of exclusion will lead to their self-destruction. If the cannabis industry wants to function in nation where cannabis is legal and if it wants to continue to thrive, it needs to take the community seriously — and the community needs to show that quality is more important to us than just the theme of cannabis.
When I found out Disjointed was cancelled after its first season, I was like “Hm. I didn’t expect it to get a second season.”