Through the zonked-out adventures of stoner dudes in the Cheech and Chong’s Up in Smoke and Pineapple Express, the category of “stoner comedies” was born and solidified as commercially successful. However, as is true in the more general comedy category, women are frequently excluded from this narrative– lest it become a national issue (see: the release of the all-female Ghostbusters and the subsequent end of the world).
Thankfully, the male-dominated world of cannabis tv is finally changing. More women are being showed smoking weed and not being demonized for it. However, like the revolution to end cannabis prohibition itself, there is still much work to be done. So, let’s look at the most prominent fictional female cannabis icons in popular media today:
Nancy Botwin (Mary-Louise Parker) – Weeds
One of the most prominent female cannabis users is Nancy Botwin, fictional star of HBO’s Weeds. Nancy is a sexy, suburban soccer mom looking to make a little extra cash who turns to selling weed to support her family. Unfortunately, however, Nancy doesn’t really smoke weed—just sells it. Throughout the show’s nine season run, Nancy is only shown smoking weed twice. Plus, there’s the fact that she started as a small-time suburban weed dealer and ended up entangled in the Mexican heroin cartel running a laundering front with multiple deaths on her hands. So, overall, not great for the cause. My favorite episode: “Pittsburgh”, season 2 episode 12.
Abbi Abrams and Ilana Wexler (Abbi Jacobsen and Ilana Glazer) – Broad City
For millennial weed smoking women, Broad City (Comedy Central) is our Cheech and Chong. Abbi and Ilana are two young women navigating the messy lives of millennials in New York City—but not before hitting their gold Pax, of course. Abbi and Ilana are two of the most prominent female cannabis users in pop culture today and are generally here for being yourself in every way possible. The women depict cannabis use in an everyday sense as well as in a funny, typical stoner way (they regularly video chat each other as they rip bongs on their toilets). Perhaps I’m biased, but the rating system for these reviews is leaf emojis so I don’t think we have to worry too much about journalistic integrity here. My favorite episode: “Coat Check”, season 2 episode 9. Honorable mention: “Pu$$y Weed”, season 1 episode 2.
Donna Pinciotti and Jackie Burkhart (Laura Prepon and Mila Kunis) – That 70’s Show ?
In That 70’s Show, the girls aren’t really considered a part of “The Circle” until season 2, and despite their introduction, Foreman, Hyde, Kelso, and Fez remain the core members. While Donna is viewed as more of an equal, Jackie is usually used as comedic relief and makes ditzy remarks about shopping and makeup. Plus, Jackie acts much more stereotypically affected by weed, leading to comments like “no more for the cheerleader” from the boys. The whole show is hokey in and of itself (remember their cover of Steve Miller Band’s “The Joker”?), so the “girls like shopping” jokes and the fact that the girls are constantly “catfighting” is to be expected. Still, not a great representation of women who weed. My favorite episode: “Reefer Madness” Season 3, Episode 1.
Ruth Whitefeather Feldman (Kathy Bates) – Disjointed
Okay, look—I had the same reservations about Disjointed that you did. It’s a corny multi-camera set-up with a painful laugh track and a lot of stereotypical, one-dimensional characters. BUT, Ruth Whitefeather Feldman, played by the legendary Kathy Bates, is a shining light that will guide you through this show. She’s a 70-year-old single mom running a dispensary in California, working to help and heal (or, as the show cringingly refers to it, “healp”) her patients through the magical medicine of cannabis. Ruth is a great example for women that have been a part of the cause since the 70’s and how her activism is affected by the changing perceptions of marijuana consumption and legalization. You must be able to withstand the uproarious laughter of the audience at jokes that fall flat to get to the best parts of this show: innuendos, weed, and trippy animation—but it’s worth it. My favorite episode: “The Worst”, Part 1 Episode 10 (the last five minutes, in particular).
Those are my thoughts, tell me yours in the comments below!
Clare Sausen, NORML Junior Associate
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