You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

TV Review: ‘Disjointed’ From Chuck Lorre

This bizarre multi-camera sitcom starring Kathy Bates marries legal marijuana, dumb comedy, and a live studio audience. It's a weird trip.

Kathy Bates, Tone Bell, Aaron Moten, Elizabeth Alderfer, Dougie Baldwin, Elizabeth Ho

Is “Disjointed” better if you’re stoned? Well, of course. Pot has been adding another dimension — and improving the flaws of bad television — for almost as long as we’ve had the medium. And “Disjointed,” in particular, seems designed to satisfy a mellower state of mind. It’s slow and spacey and visually kinetic, with a, well, disjointed format that frames traditional multi-camera set pieces with fake commercials, animated segments, and fictional YouTube videos. For a show on Netflix, it’s amusing how much effort “Disjointed” has put into looking like something syndicated on a forgotten cable channel; it makes use of visual nods to technologies that the streaming service has effectively made obsolete, like commercial breaks and VHS fast-forwarding. But that is part of what makes “Disjointed” so bizarrely intriguing, especially to the high among us; it’s so scattershot that it appears to imply meaning, when the fact is, it might also just be random.

Kathy Bates plays Ruth Whitefeather Feldman, owner of Ruth’s Alternative Caring, a legal pot dispensary in Southern California. She is a longtime activist for legalization, a self-described shaman and rabbi, and, of course, pretty much always stoned. “Disjointed” is about the only occasionally rational lives of Ruth and the employees at her shop, including an on-site grower, a few “budtenders,” and her son, Travis (Aaron Moten). When we meet the team at Ruth’s Alternative Caring, they are trying to expand the dispensary’s footprint to the digital realm. This takes the form of a YouTube series that includes the pretty ridiculous “Strain O’the Day” review, where a couple of the employees put some hash on a dish and expound upon its unique characteristics. (For the brilliantly named varietal Rutherford B. Haze, the employees display the pot on a picture of Rutherford B. Hayes’ face. The green makes up his abundant beard.)

“Disjointed” is ultimately trying to do too many things at once, and as a result just feels sloppy. The streaming service’s freedom with language, sex, and jokes about bodily fluids are incredibly unappealing when mixed with the homey feeling of a multi-camera sitcom. What those elements should do is make a show feel vital and edgy, but in “Disjointed” it just makes the whole show feel seedy, crass, and dank, as if the smell of bongwater and low-hanging smoke is seeping into the walls. An animated segment in each episode nods to psychedelia, but seems otherwise pointless, like an Adult Swim bumper accidentally attached to a Nick at Nite rerun. And though Bates is funny, “Disjointed” opts for broad humor — it’s unapologetically dumb funny. It’s so committed to the tawdry lifestyle of smoking up that “Disjointed” is almost radically charming. But it’s not, really. It’s just enjoying the freedom of being honest about being stoned.

There are astonishing threads in the show — including an ongoing and probably incredibly necessary conversation about what it means for marijuana to be legal overnight. Ruth’s security guard Carter (Tone Bell) is a Iraq war veteran, and one of the most affecting stories in the episodes released to critics is about Carter, who has never smoked, considering using pot to alleviate some of his post-traumatic stress. This leads the other employees to share with him why they started using marijuana, and the responses are varied and touching. Yes, “Disjointed” features a crass pair of stoned vloggers who do a supercut of the many times they’ve coughed while taking bong hits. But it also features Chinese-American Jenny, who lies to her parents about what she does, telling Carter about her first time smoking up: “I wouldn’t even say it was good or bad — just that, for the first time in my life, I felt like I was living in the moment.”

Coming from Chuck Lorre, the titanic executive producer behind beloved multicam sitcoms like “The Big Bang Theory,” “Disjointed” takes his well-worn family-sitcom model and exposes it to the hairy realities of living with marijuana. Bates’ Ruth is the butt of the joke half the time, and doesn’t seem to know or care. Most of the jokes in the show are about people being stoned, which is not exactly the cutting edge of comedy. But the sitcom is an unexpected, rickety bridge between the past and the future — the sanitized broadcast sitcom of yore and the streaming comedy about getting a newly legal high. And it likely arose from the simplest of all explanations: Couch-bound stoners watch a lot of Netflix, so the platform decided to make something just for them.

TV Review: ‘Disjointed’ From Chuck Lorre

Comedy, 10 episodes (4 reviewed): Netflix, Fri. Aug. 25. 30 min.

Crew: Executive producers, Chuck Lorre, David Javerbaum

Cast: Kathy Bates, Tone Bell, Aaron Moten, Elizabeth Alderfer, Dougie Baldwin, Elizabeth Ho

More TV

  • Luis Fonsi Erika Ender Latin Grammys

    The Second Latin Explosion: How 'Despacito' Ushered in a New Generation of Stars

    Music is an ever-evolving art, and for the Latin Recording Academy, that’s meant riding multiple waves of attention. The most recent arrived with the stratospheric success of “Despacito,” which kicked off a second Latin Explosion with full force in 2017. The Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee hit, later featuring verses by Justin Bieber, made Latin [...]

  • TV Review: 'Catherine the Great' Starring

    TV Review: 'Catherine the Great' Starring Helen Mirren

    For some, “Dame Helen Mirren playing the Catherine the Great” is all the convincing they’ll need to watch this new biographical limited series, which is perfectly understandable. The casting of Mirren in the role, which follows the Russian empress in the embattled latter years of her life, is a smart choice that proves its worth [...]

  • Ricky Martin Celia Cruz Gloria Estefan

    From Idea to Legacy: Latin Grammy Awards Mark 20 Years of Global Recognition

    The idea of creating a separate organization to honor the diversity of Latin music was a discussion that took place for years before it actually happened, but an event driven by one of pop music’s most important crossover artists solidified it. During the 41st Grammy Awards ceremony, a young Ricky Martin was scheduled to perform [...]

  • Science Fair

    Disney Plus Fleshes Out Nonfiction Slate, Including 'Howard,' 'Science Fair,' Mickey Mouse Docu

    Disney Plus further fleshed out its nonfiction content slate at an International Documentary Association showcase event Friday, as the streamer, preparing for its Nov. 12 launch, continues to flesh out its programming strategy. Among the announcements: The streamer has acquired the global distribution rights to “Howard,” the Don Hahn-directed documentary about “Aladdin” and “Beauty and [...]

  • South Park Phone Destroyer

    Bidding War for 'South Park' U.S. Streaming Rights Could Hit $500 Million

    A bidding tussle for domestic streaming rights to Comedy Central’s long-running, irreverent animated series “South Park” may result in a deal as large as $500 million for cable parent Viacom and show creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone. Bloomberg first reported news of the impending deal, pointing to a closing date as soon as this [...]

  • Neilsons Measurment Problems TV Digital

    AT&T's Ad-Tech Unit Xandr Buys Clypd To Help Place TV Commercials More Precisely

    Xandr, the AT&T ad-technology unit, has purchased a new company that helps advertisers use data to place commercials in front of the audiences most likely to want to watch them The AT&T division said Friday it had acquired clypd, a company that helps advertisers move forward in a growing desire by Madison Avenue to run [...]


    'High School Musical: The Musical: The Series' Renewed for Season 2 at Disney Plus

    It may not have even premiered yet, but Disney Plus has handed out a second season renewal for “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series.” Inspired by the “High School Musical” movies, the series was created and is executive produced by Tim Federle, and stars Olivia Rodrigo, Joshua Bassett, Matt Cornett, Sofia Wylie, Larry Saperstein, Julia [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content