Netflix and the Message of their New Show, Disjointed

Marijuana smoker

In August 2017, Netflix presented their new situation comedy, Disjointed. The show features Kathy Bates as the owner of a Los Angeles cannabis shop called Ruth’s Alternative Caring. The show is filled with graphic sexual allusions, profanity and, of course, plentiful references to how wonderful marijuana use is. It’s not a surprise that the staff and customers are usually high. Stoners are represented as funny, lazy, absent-minded and harmless. The consistent message is that life’s challenges or difficulties can be avoided by “lighting up.”

Is This Responsible Leadership?

What’s the message that will be received by our teens and young adults if they watch this show? Will some of them be motivated to excel at Science-Technology-Engineering-Math (STEM)? Will others be inspired to develop their talent in art, dance, music or athleticism?

Tornado disaster.

You have to ask yourself if this show and many others of a similar ilk will contribute to the raising of a generation who can steer this country through emergencies or disasters. At this writing, Houston is under water as a result of Hurricane Harvey. The West Coast is ever subject to earthquakes, the Midwest is prone to tornadoes, the North and Northeast face blizzards and ice storms. It takes alertness and rational thinking to save oneself and one’s neighbors when disaster strikes.

A child lost in an airport.

Will our young people be capable of studying the national issues facing every American and making the right choices? Will they make capable parents who can quickly deal with childhood problems like choking, accidental poisonings, high fevers or injuries? Would they be alert enough to find a child who has wandered away while everyone’s at the park or in an airport? And if they so choose, would they make courageous soldiers, sailors and aviators who can protect our shores from invasion or assault?

A Long Line of Drug-Related Programming

Of course, Disjointed is only the latest in a long line of television programming intimately related to drug use. Like these:

  • Breaking Bad: High school teacher goes into the meth-cooking business
  • Weeds: A suburban mother turns into a marijuana dealer to make ends meet.
  • House: Brilliant doctor is addicted to Vicodin.
  • Nurse Jackie: The lead character is addicted to prescription drugs. Drugs featured on the show include OxyContin, morphine, Vicodin, Adderall, methamphetamine, Suboxone, Valium and Xanax
  • Orange is the New Black: Inmates and prison staff frequently use all kinds of drugs, including Molly and opioids.

Likewise, the Boston Globe notes pervasive marijuana use on Mad Men, Shameless, Californication, Malibu Country and Workaholics.

The Character of Americans

A few years ago, Governor Jerry Brown voiced his concerns about legalizing marijuana:

“How many people can get stoned and still have a great state or a great nation? The world’s pretty dangerous, very competitive. I think we need to stay alert, if not 24 hours a day, more than some of the potheads might be able to put together.”

Can we build or maintain a strong country if we are so casual about drug use in our entertainments? That’s a question you must answer for yourself.


Karen Hadley

For more than a decade, Karen has been researching and writing about drug trafficking, drug abuse, addiction and recovery. She has also studied and written about policy issues related to drug treatment.