Hot TV Trend: Pot-Themed Projects Pick Up Steam

"There are lots of potheads in Hollywood!" jokes one development exec of the various marijuana-centric comedies in the works.
Chuck Lorre and Kevin Smith  Jennifer Lourie/Getty Images; Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images

A version of this story first appeared in the Feb. 5 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

The grass definitely is greener at some broadcast and cable TV networks as marijuana-themed comedies suddenly are in high demand.

Superproducer Chuck Lorre (The Big Bang Theory) is among those exploring the subject with Disjointed, an ensemble comedy about a group of potheads set at a Colorado marijuana dispensary that hit the marketplace Jan. 15. That project joins the Jan. 6 series pickup for Comedy Central's Time Traveling Bong, HBO's web series adaptation High Maintenance (picked up April 20) and NBC's Buds, put in development nearly a year ago.

In December, Amazon tapped Margaret Cho to star in the streaming giant's Highland. Not to be outdone, filmmaker and noted stoner Kevin Smith wrote and stars in Hollyweed, a project financed by FremantleMedia and five firms with ties to the rapidly growing cannabis industry.

Insiders suggest that with marijuana legal for medicinal or recreational use in 23 states and counting, it's high time for weed-themed shows to go mainstream. Plus, "There are lots of potheads in Hollywood!" jokes one development exec who has heard multiple marijuana pitches. "It's a lifestyle thing. People who work at these places take it pretty seriously; it's not unlike your butcher shop."

Multiple insiders suggest that marijuana legalization has helped legitimize dispensaries as a business model, paving the way for a small-screen infusion.

"What's interesting is how these people are seen by the general public — neighbors or close family friends — because it's now legalized," the exec says. "It can be a workplace comedy. … Someone will crack it in the way that makes it feel like Breaking Bad — or Silicon Valley."
 
Adds Fox Broadcasting entertainment president David Madden: "The idea that you can go into a pot store and get some — I think it's a way to do a workplace/office show but give it a cultural relevance, an edge and a spin that paper products wouldn't necessarily give you. If I were in cable, I would think it's an interesting world. … Conceptually, we're totally open to do a show in that universe."

It's still unclear whether mainstream audiences will warm to weed jokes, but Cho is optimistic. "There's so much happening with the easing up on the prohibition against marijuana and lots of people getting very rich very fast," she says. "My show will focus on a family going through this experience — like Dallas, but instead of oil, it's weed. They're the Karhashians!"
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