It’s not a federally recognized holiday, but the peaceful spirit of April 20 – otherwise known as the marijuana-enhanced 4-20 – is one worth celebrating. While still technically an illegal substance in most areas of the world, some of our favorite TV shows are clearly enhanced by being under the influence. Pot imbues them with a certain sensibility that may heighten the mood, even without chemical assistance.
Here are some of our favorite series, all available on streaming services, that acknowledge weed as a normal part of life for many Americans (even though a lot of the characters on this list probably shouldn’t be described as “normal”).
“Bored to Death”
Jonathan Ames’ HBO comedy was a celebration of both pot’s mellow and extreme mind-altering states. On the one hand, a little bit of suspension of disbelief was needed to buy into the oddball adventures of Jonathan (Jason Schwartzman), a novelist turned unlicensed private investigator. His day-to-day life felt just a few degrees removed from reality, even when the emotions evoked from his quirky cases were very real. But Jonathan and his friends, Ray (Zach Galifianakis) and George (Ted Danson), also found themselves in intense peril, and the only way to accept the situation and move forward was by adopting a higher perspective. “Bored to Death” regularly embraced marijuana as a lifestyle, setting a rare example of imbibing not only without negative consequences, but a better chance to thrive.
The show that makes us either want to leap around Brooklyn shouting “YASS KWEEN!” or chill out with our best friend, Abbi (Abbi Jacobson) and Ilana’s (Ilana Glazer) quirks and flaws aren’t defined entirely by their love of weed — instead, it’s just one aspect of their chaotic but hilarious lives. But it’s a pretty prominent one, with many episode storylines involving the procurement of, and subsequent enjoyment, of their favorite herbal refreshment.
Here they are, hacking a bowl in a new short timed to this year’s 4/20 celebration:
Technically, the main character of “High Maintenance,” known only as “The Guy” (Ben Sinclair), is a pot dealer. But while The Guy serves as the connective tissue for the innovative anthology series, which HBO brought to television after its initial debut online, “High Maintenance” is really a show which is deeply focused on humanity, with an eclectic cast of characters who, it turns out, have more in common than just the same source for weed. Pot is a present element, but what matters a lot more is why these characters are buying.
“How I Met Your Mother”
If you were to associate a vice with Ted (Josh Radnor), Robin (Cobie Smulders), Lily (Alyson Hannigan), Marshall (Jason Segel), and Barney (Neil Patrick Harris), you’d probably first think of drinking — after all, the show began with exactly two standing sets, and one of them was McLaren’s Bar. However, one of “HIMYM’s” best running gags was how Ted, in narrating the story of his 20s and 30s to his future children, chose to use the euphemism “sandwiches” to describe his friends’ casual enjoyment of pot. The prop sandwiches used for these things, from small lunchables to massive hoagies, only added to the comedy surrounding those moments.
Ask any “Silicon Valley” fan their favorite moment from Season 3 and it’ll probably involve a bong and some coughing. Half the fun of the show is being right alongside Richard and the gang as they navigate the uncertainties of a vicious corporate maze. But what if, with a little help from Erlich’s indulgence of choice, you could stay one step ahead of the plot too? For those who find the inner workings of compression algorithms trippier than a kaleidoscope, it might unlock something even more satisfying than what the guys can solve on a whiteboard.
“That ’70s Show”
Being a teenager in the late 1970s was a groovy time, especially if you got to hang out in Eric Foreman’s basement where awesome conversations were had when you sat in a circle and were surrounded by clouds of smoke. Revisiting the show these days gives a better idea of how prevalent marijuana was over four decades ago, and will mess with you mind seeing actors like Laura Prepon, Ashton Kutcher, Mila Kunis and Wilmer Valderrama back when they were baby-faced new stars on TV.
In many ways, “Weeds” was a pioneer in TV going to pot. Created by Jenji Kohan, “Weeds” began as the tale of Nancy Botwin (Mary-Louise Parker), who turns to selling marijuana in her straight-laced suburban town in order to keep up a comfortable middle-class lifestyle when her husband dies. As the series progressed, the dark comedy got darker as Nancy and family got, well, deeper into the illegal weeds. Consider “Weeds” your starter drug for everything else on this page.