In a 1999 stand-up comedy special, David Cross had a lengthy bit about how while enjoys indulging in marijuana, he despise the sub-moronic culture that has spawned around cannabis. Now that pot culture is becoming more and more a part of everyday American culture with the creeping legalization and decriminalization occurring in many states in the union it was only a matter of time before the sub-moronic aspects of pot culture collide with the ever-inane aspects of sitcom humor. This horrible collision course was unavoidable and now lands on Netflix with Disjointed, a sitcom created by Big Bang Theory and Two and a Half Men creator Chuck Lorre along with co-creator David Javerbaum. Disjointed offers the worst of two idiotic forms of culture, an unfunny sitcom overflowing with trite clichés about people who smoke marijuana. Over the course of four episodes made available to critics, only one thought circled through my mind as watched the pot-addled haze of inept comedy: Just who in the hell is Disjointed for?
For the sake of pure transparency, I must confess that I’ve never cared for the sitcoms of Chuck Lorre. However, I was willing to give Disjointed a chance because of its more adult-themed subject matter and the fact that Netflix might allow Lorre a sense of freedom that wasn’t available on traditional network television. Well, it didn’t take long for my worst fears to be realized. Within seconds of the start of Disjointed’s inaugural episode, the laugh track that greeted the introduction of Ruth (Kathy Bates) and the eccentrics employed at Ruth’s Alternative Caring made me realize that this will be another generic work of sitcom inanity.
So at the Southern California pot shop, Ruth runs the marijuana dispensary with her half-black son Travis (Aaron Moten). However, the biracial aspects of this character is nothing more than excuse for some woeful jokes about the size of his penis. Is it small because of his Jewish half? Or is it big because of his black half? That’s the extent of the insightful humor on display. Also working in the pot shop are Olivia (Elizabeth Alderfer), who is supposed to have a will they or won’t they relationship with Travis; Carter (Tone Bell), the security guard who is suffering from PTSD due to his time in Iraq; Pete (Dougie Baldwin), the generic moronic stoner with long hair; and Jenny (Elizabeth Ho), the Chinese immigrant whose telephone conversations with her mother in Chinese are supposed to be funny…because reasons? It’s incredibly confusing when the canned laughter rises up when Jenny speaks Chinese. What is funny about a foreign language? That is just another example along with jokes about Travis’ penis size that further prove that Disjointed is just another regressive sitcom that leans on stereotypes rather than crafting memorable characters and actual funny comedic situations.
The only extra freedom afforded Chuck Lorre and David Javerbaum is the ability to have their characters swear since they’re no longer constrained by FCC regulations. But the profanity of Disjointed is just profanity for the sake of profanity. There’s nothing behind the use of more colorful language, not a bit of flair or kick to any of the F-bombs dropped. Disjointed is simply what The Big Bang Theory might look like if they characters were able to utter “fuck” and “shit” every once in a while. The use of profanity further makes me wonder who this sitcom is for. I doubt that Lorre’s most ardent devotees are going to find themselves endeared by a bunch of foul-mouthed potheads and people who like edgy comedy are going to be annoyed at the saccharine sitcom sensibilities that dominate each and every moment of Disjointed.
Even when Disjointed attempts to tackle other issues it bungles them in a way that feels crass and exploitative. The PTSD that plagues Tone Bell’s Carter feels woefully out of place in the context of the dopey (oh yeah, pun intended) doofuses that surround him. The moments of his emotional and mental pain are presented in psychedelic-like animations. You want to credit the writers of the show for attempting to tackle such a tricky issues, but then you reach the point in one episode where Carter withdraws himself in the midst of a moment of emotional pain that get diluted with a horrible gag about urinating in bong. Combined with its retrograde handling of racial stereotypes, Disjointed shows a brazen ignorance to the deft hand required to tackle issues of social importance.
I guess Disjointed is a show for people who think pot culture has gotten too intellectual. This sitcom makes the films of Cheech and Chong look like the work of Orson Welles. Kathy Bates as a faded hippie running a pot shop is some inspired casting, and yet that represents the limits of the inspiration behind this dreadful work of comedy. If not for The Ridiculous 6, Disjointed would stand as the worst thing that Netflix has ever placed upon their streaming service. Even worse, there are a total of 20 episodes in the show’s first season. I feel immensely dumber for having sat through four episodes of this laugh-less piece of sitcom dreck that I fear to even consider what watching 20 episodes would do to a young mind.