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Disjointed Review ????: “You Don’t Have to Be High to Watch It, But It Helps”

(C) Netflix.
In preparation for our upcoming CANNABIS print issue (due in November), we’re kicking off our theme with this review of the new Netflix series Disjointed, co-created by sitcom giant Chuck Lorre and starring Kathy Bates. Film critic and Honeysuckle columnist Moxie McMurder weighs in on the controversial show.

By Moxie McMurder

New Netflix series Disjointed is co-created by Chuck Lorre, the producer responsible for comedies Two and a Half Men, The Big Big Theory, and more. I’m not a fan of his work, but I am a stoner and a fan of Kathy Bates, so I was sold on the premise and settled down to watch the first episode, “Omega Strain.”

The first episode was a little weak, but I decided to stick with it to see if the unnecessary laugh track would somehow become less annoying (it didn’t), and to see if the series had any legs. It did.

Ruth Whitefeather Feldman (Kathy Bates) owns a cannabis dispensary in L.A. She runs it with her son and has her “budtenders,” a group of young hip weed enthusiasts who serve the customers. Ruth has a history of activism, still embraces the 60s lifestyle, and swears like a trooper. It sounds a bit strange to say, but it’s refreshing to hear people swear on what’s otherwise a typical network sitcom. I don’t just mean a couple of “shits” either, I’m talking full-on motherfucking swearing.

From the great opening titles using footage from Reefer Madness (1936) with “Jack, I’m Mellow” by Trixie Smith to the fake commercials, there’s a glimmer of gold in this nug. A glimmer that I hope is given more space to shine in coming episodes.

Disjointed uses the same joke about burnt-out stoners over and over, but there was enough in the first couple of episodes to keep me watching and I ended up watching them all in one sitting. Sure, I was doing some other stuff while I watched, but that just solidifies it as “good background noise.” Which is not to say it’s bad; there are plenty of fantastic shows that qualify as “good background noise.” Disjointed isn’t great, but it isn’t terrible either. You don’t have to be high to watch it, but it certainly helps.

The dynamic between hippie Ruth and her business school son Travis (Aaron Moten) is the main thrust of the show and it’s as trite as you might imagine, but still amusing enough to keep you watching. Occasionally the show tries to have more serious moments between the mother and son, but these moments just come across as seriously cheesy. No one is watching this show looking for emotional depth so hopefully they’ll lean less on that in the future, should the series continue.

Something I have to give the show credit for is the story arc concerning security guard Carter, played by Tone Bell. It becomes clear that he has had PTSD since his return from a tour in Iraq. Carter is not a smoker but considers taking it to alleviate some of his symptoms. Which was an interesting episode in itself. Sure, the employees at Ruth’s Alternative Caring all think he should smoke, but it’s the one who’s more ambivalent about his trying weed who gets through to him.

Carter also had some wonderful moments where his thoughts are animated and it’s so well done I’d almost recommend the series based on the animation alone.

There is one major drawback to the show and that’s the irritating studio audience laugh track. It really grates and I know some people couldn’t finish the first episode because of it.

Ten episodes are up on Netflix although sources say twenty were ordered. I’m looking forward to seeing where the show goes.

DISJOINTED is now available to view on Netflix. Watch the first ten episodes here.

Moxie McMurder is a writer, poet, and film critic who regularly contributes to Honeysuckle Magazine. Based in the UK, she is the staff film critic for Garden City Cinema. The founder of Lead Jammer Magazine, Moxie’s work has also been featured frequently on MoviePilot and Medium. She is the author of the novella Blood Sings. Visit her blogs Moxie McMurder and A Shared Madness, and follow her on Twitter to learn more.

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