TV shows that tackle topics like marijuana almost never manage to do it successfully. Here are 5 exceptions.
Despite marijuana’s acceptance, there’s one area that sorely needs improvement: weed’s presence on TV. For the most part, weed TV shows don’t know how to get it right. Like most societal issues, marijuana is a thorny topic, one that seems hard to seamlessly include into a narrative.
Netflix has tried to bring marijuana to the forefront, developing different programs like “Disjointed” and “Cooking on High.” Although there’s money and talent behind these series, none have been successful or good, clunkily adding marijuana as a gimmick to gain views and create controversy instead of presenting it as a realistic part of people’s lives.
While there’s plenty of room for improvement within the weed TV show landscape, there are shows that have succeeded with amazing results. Interestingly enough, these programs tend to be half-hour comedies, weaving in the political with the everyday experiences of people who like to smoke marijuana.
Here are the best weed-centric shows to add to your watch-list:
“Weeds” is an old show with an already dated premise, but it still works. Nancy Botwin is a mother of two whose husband just passed away and is left with all sorts of debts and challenges. Of course, her next step is to start selling weed to her rich neighbors to earn some extra cash. Developed by Jenji Kohan (who also created “Orange is the New Black”), “Weeds” is a comedy that’s also a drama, with different degrees of success per season. Throughout its eight year run, the show managed to stay innovative and funny, always featuring a complex lead character. It’s also a time capsule of sorts, set during a time when weed was more taboo than it is now. You can stream it on Netflix.
“High Maintenance” is an anthology series bound together by the character of The Guy, a weed delivery man who works in New York. “High Maintenance” is the rare anthology series that’s consistent; unlike most anthology programs out there that are strung together by a few great episodes and a bunch of filler, “High Maintenance” manages to tell engrossing and human stories that never overstay their welcome and that are particularly rewarding for New Yorkers. You can watch “High Maintenance” on HBO.
Another great New York show is “Broad City” which, despite focusing on the messes and adventures of two best friends, is also an ode to marijuana. In every season you can reliably find an episode where weed facilitates or hinders Abbi and Ilana’s adventures, all with hilarious and surprisingly touching results. “Broad City” has many fans and consists of four short seasons of half-hour episodes, making it the perfect binge for any mood. You can stream the full show on Hulu.
That 70’s Show
Despite the decades that have passed, “That 70’s Show” remains a weirdly ambitious sitcom. Lasting eight seasons made up of more than 20 episodes each, it’s an iconic show that managed to cultivate a very devoted fan base. “That 70’s Show” follows a group of teen friends and their parents, using a backdrop of the 70s that informs all story lines, addressing politics, the sexual revolution and weed, all in sneaky PG-13 ways. Watching the show as an adult proves to be a different experience, especially once you realize that the notable circle scenes are made up of friends and sometimes parents, sitting around in a circle smoking weed, as one does. You can stream it on Netflix.
Donald Glover’s “Atlanta” is the strangest entry on this list, a comedy that’s comfortable with breaking all sorts of rules and that pushes the boundaries of the genre. Centered on Earn, played by Glover himself, the show is a woozy and strange half-hour that’s funny and depressing, reflecting on the all too real disparities present in America. Glover has always had a knack for expressing racial and economical realities — his finger always steady on the pulse — and nowhere is his talent more apparent than on this show. It’s the rare dramedy that will make you laugh out loud and leave you thinking long after it’s over. You can watch “Atlanta” on Hulu.