The television world will finally welcome its first marijuana-based television this fall when HBO premiers “High Maintenance,” a show about a Brooklyn-based cannabis delivery man. The show that has already aired 19 short episodes on Vimeo will instantly become the first network-based television show to hit the masses.
HBO actually picked up the show over a year ago–on last year’s 4/20–but has taken its time with production and the unveil. Six episodes are planned for the first season, and the premium network service recently posted a trailer to its YouTube page:
HBO didn’t offer an exact premier date, but the show will definitely be airing in a longer format in the network’s fall lineup. The series will follow the same format: follow “The Guy” as he serves up Brooklyn’s marijuana tokers with herb.
But stoners shouldn’t get their hopes up for bong hits or constant laughs. The show, while well written and well-produced, is more about the people who use cannabis to cope with the strife in their lives than it is about the plant itself.
While there is certainly smoke in the show and cannabis is the show’s catalyst, marijuana is typically not an episode’s focal point–and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The show succeeds in elevating the discussion cannabis and showing real, everyday people who smoke cannabis and still live normal lives.
The show may not be tailored for stoners, but its cult, base audience along with its placement on HBO’s lineup should make it an instant hit.
Previously, the topic of marijuana on both network and cable television has been limited to reality shows, 60-minute specials and the occasional antics of Conan O’Brien or Jimmy Kimmel. But that is starting to change.
The most recent Gallup poll reported 58 percent of the country supports cannabis legalization, and some states have had medical marijuana programs for over a decade. It is a consistent topic of conversation on social media and in presidential debates. Seeing that marijuana is part of millions of American’s lives, tv networks are starting to test the waters.
HBO is seeing the genius in High Maintenance, an already-successful web series on Vimeo. While the politics of an independent web series becoming property of an entertainment juggernaut has sparked debate among fans, HBO has ordered six episodes with the potential for more.
It is worth noting that many of the new projects are using legal marijuana dispensaries as a backdrop to their stories. Parks & Recreation’s Adam Scott is set to produce a show for NBC along with his wife, producer Naomi Scott, about life in a legal Colorado dispensary. Kevin Smith is so excited about his show “Hollyweed” that he foot the bill for the pilot. It also centers around life in a marijuana dispensary, and is being sponsored by companies within the cannabis industry. Margaret Cho is part of Highland, a series for Amazon about life in a dispensary owned by her parents. This show will have more of a dramatic bent, with Cho’s character attending court-ordered rehab.
A script co-written by Chuck Lorre and David Javerbaum is being shown to major networks and direct-to-consumer providers like Netflix. The plot involves an ensemble cast of coworkers at a Colorado dispensary. Lorre and Javerbaum have 24 emmys between them, which might be enough to convince networks to pick up the show.
These projects involve enough influential actors, producers and networks to signify that cannabis culture will start to appear in mainstream entertainment more frequently. Stay tuned.
In the last few years, there’s arguably been no celebrity or public figure who has been more outspoken, more poignant and more accurate, when it comes to speaking up about cannabis, than Bill Maher. Since his show, Real Time with Bill Maher, is not on cable television, Maher can and regularly does use his pulpit and his freedom to drop truth about marijuana in America.
For example, few are willing to say something like this:
“Dispensaries still can’t get banking services because they’re too skeevy…the banks, not the dispensaries.”
Unsatisfied with the current snail-like pace of federal legalization, Maher featured Mary Jane in his New Rule segment titled “For the Love of Bud” on Friday February 12. Maher’s goal was to point out that the fight to liberate cannabis globally is far from over, and that so-called legalization “dominos” are far from a sure thing.
“Pot is not like gay marriage. With gay marriage. No one stood to lose money if the law changed. But the war on drugs keeps billions flowing to DEA agents and police and prisons…”
Maher stated as he eloquently and vehemently makes what he calls “obvious pot arguments” throughout his monologue. From explaining that cannabis is much less dangerous than alcohol (or belt asphyxiation during sex for that matter) to rousing Obama for calling weed a “bad habit,” Maher nails these points.
Once his point was made, Maher did what all good late night hosts should do to close their shows: he lit a joint and shared it with his guests. Watch the whole segment here:
The point about gay marriage may resonate the loudest. That battle’s biggest enmities were homophobes and the Westboro Baptist Church, groups far less endowed and with far less political stake than, pharmaceutical companies, tobacco companies, and alcohol companies.
While the majority of Americans report that they want cannabis legalized (58 percent), staying home and ordering Dominoes, keeping their opinions to themselves won’t get it done. Continuing to fight in the polls and in the news for that legalization is the only way to make ground.
Aforementioned companies have a lot to lose when cannabis is legalized federally and they will continue to impede progress as long as we let them. It’s vital for this community to keep these points in mind and “remain steadfast” as we push for even more progress.
Because smoking weed, as Maher puts it, can indeed be a “fantastic habit” — and even better medicine — or much of America.
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