Netflix's Disjointed is typical sitcom fare — despite the high times: EW review
The new sitcom stars Kathy Bates as a dispensary owner and plays to a very specific audience
- TV Show
It’s safe to say that Disjointed knows its audience. The new Netflix sitcom stars veteran actress Kathy Bates as Ruth Whitefeather Feldman, the owner of a legal marijuana dispensary in southern California. Ruth and the rest of her employees spend most of the series stoned, and the show’s humor is heavily slanted toward viewers who may share those proclivities. Each episode comes complete with at least one psychedelic animated sequence or other surrealistic setpiece to emphasize the characters’ drug-induced fantasies, along with a “Strain O’ the Day” segment advertising specific varieties of weed (some real, some hilariously fictional).
One of the weirdest things about Disjointed, however, is how similar it feels, aside from the subject matter, to the usual network sitcom. The show is produced by Chuck Lorre, the architect of modern standard-bearers of the genre like Two and a Half Men, The Big Bang Theory, and Mom. And while the show’s many references to drugs, sex, and trauma are probably only acceptable on a streaming service, there’s still a broadcast-style laugh track, and episodes are still built around potential commercial breaks. That sort of meta-level weirdness is the kind of thing some viewers might find randomly entertaining, while others find confusing.
And though many of the show’s jokes center around pot humor (one episode ends with a character sitting in her parked car, convinced she’s driving down the highway), there’s also some depth. Disjointed follows a trend of recent comedies like BoJack Horseman and Rick & Morty in the way it uses a surrealist sense of humor to get at emotional truths. One of the characters, the dispensary’s security guard Carter (Tone Bell), is only recently returned from military deployment in the Middle East and thus reluctant to try weed. But when the other characters are unable to comfort him over his lingering trauma, Carter finally partakes. After a twisty cartoon segment brought on by the smoke, he comes back to reality. At that point he starts crying, finally engaging with the truth of his experiences and the horror he witnessed, as everyone else in the store silently comforts him.
The show may make fun of Ruth for saying things like “how can I heal-p you,” but it is also aware that there’s more to weed (and surrealist comedy, for that matter) than just a surface-level high.