There is no question that classic stoner comedy is timeless and brilliant. Cheech & Chong took the world by storm as one of the first mainstream crossover forms of stoner expression, and you don’t have to be high to crack up at their antics when re-watching their films. But let’s face it – they put a few stereotypes in place that ran rampant in stoner TV portrayals for years. All stoners are guys, losers, with no jobs, who hang out all day and just happen into crazy adventures. Dude, Where’s My Car? used almost exactly the same formula years later.
Now, however, what many are calling the golden era of television is yielding all kinds of awesome new takes on the tried-and-true stoner stereotypes we know and love. Smokers are women, they are old, they are successful – or maybe they borrow from the tropes of stoner comedy, but don’t advocate for substance use at all. Here are a few of the exciting new ways that so-called stoner comedy is branching out:
This show has been groundbreaking in so many ways – finally, there’s a “girly” show on TV that depicts women just hanging out and making fools of themselves instead of constantly getting dolled up or having catty fights. This show definitely follows the “stoner comedy” formula to a degree – you have two best buds who do everything together but seem to always be getting into trouble – but it takes things to a whole new level. For one thing, it shows women smoking, not just with their boyfriend or as part of a crowd, but on their own, getting their own weed and making their own decisions about how to imbibe. It also portrays cannabis use in a healthy way – both ladies are still active and functioning even though they are constantly puffing the ganja – while still making a few jokes at the expense of stoners. (The episode where Ilana has weed hidden all over her apartment is priceless.)
This new hit show is definitely guilty of following some of the old stoner standard tropes – you’ve got three best buds instead of two, but they are totally dumb and definitely come off as losers. They even have a drug dealer who lives in a van (even though they are based in California, where they could easily get med cards.) But it can be argued that this show picks up where comedians like Cheech & Chong left off and took the stoner comedy thing to the most extreme level possible. Some of the completely disgusting and utterly stupid situations in this show leave you scratching your head about their portrayal of cannabis, until you realize it is all very self-aware and meant to point out how exaggerated these stereotypes really are. Plus, major props to Adam DeVine’s character on the show for making “smoke weed about it” part of every stoner’s phraseology.
Franke & Grace
Possibly the most groundbreaking new show to talk about weed out today, this funny, heartwarming comedy brings up a lot of issues many would rather sweep under the rug. From menopause and older women feeling unattractive to the perils of masturbation for older women and the stress faced by those who lived their whole lives in the closet and came out as senior citizens, Frankie & Grace has screamed that although it’s a super-cute feel good rom-com, it is about to boldly go where no show has gone before. One of the many issues it breaches is cannabis use in older women – eccentric hippie Frankie (Lily Tomlin), the foil to starchy, conservative Grace (Jane Fonda), is an avid cannabis user. At one point she is having trouble passing her driving test – until she realizes she gets stoned while she studies, so she has to take the test high, too. She is always lighting up a joint or hitting a bong. While this is part of her charm and meant to be a bit funny, it also highlights that older women can use cannabis for pain and medication, and still be awesome mothers, grandmothers, and professional women. Plus, the stoner comedy dynamic between Fonda and Tomlin is good enough to make the entire show.
Trailer Park Boys
Everybody loves this ridiculously dumb Canadian comedy, but sometimes this show is so low-brow that it’s easy to miss some of the deeper messages. However, as they clearly point out in the film Illegalize It, the cannabis industry can, and is, potentially hurting the poor who have always sold cannabis illegally because of felons being kept out of the business, and rich, privileged people taking over. Plus, as silly as Ricky’s dialogue is, and as often as he refers to cannabis as “dope,” he slips in some pretty good points about how marijuana is a safe and harmless substitute to harder drugs.
The most innocent of the stoner comedies, this show is actually aimed at kids, although it is still funny to young adults, teens, and adults. The best part about this show? It is stoner comedy for sure – two dumb guys keep having misadventures and being lazy on the job, preferring video games to work – but the characters are cartoon animals who only imbibe pizza and soda, no beer, no weed, no drugs. However, they still party incredibly hard: late nights with pizza and soda lead to hangovers the next day, wings lead to making bad life choices, and going into the wrong sandwich shop leads to an epic battle. Hands down, this show proves that the tried and true formula of high humor is so good that you can be totally sober to create and appreciate it.