As Will & Grace demonstrated in the late ’90s and early 2000s, TV can be a harbinger of cultural change. Today, public support for decriminalizing and/or legalizing weed use is on the rise, and TV has responded to Americans’ changing attitudes toward the drug with a shrug and a flick of the lighter. Characters on TV now regularly smoke up without fanfare, and I’m not just talking about twentysomething stoners like Broad City’s Abbi and Ilana: on Mozart in the Jungle, a member of the New York Symphony is a habitual toker.
Some of my favorite weed moments on TV use the drug as a kind of time-out, a shared moment between a two or three characters away from the din of the ensemble — like on Sunday’s two-part season finale of Girls, when Hannah reunites with her college frenemy Tally and the pair trade insecurities over a joint. Below, we’ve compiled ten great weed-bonding moments on TV.
Sex and the City: Carrie and Samantha
Carrie had already smoked pot once on Sex and the City, in Season 3’s “Hot Child in the City.” But then, she was smoking with a slacker boyfriend who lived with parents, and her hysterical laughter — accompanied by a bucket of KFC — was kind of lame. Here, Carrie and Samantha share a joint after Berger breaks up with her via Post-It note. Carrie’s smoke-filled “Men are bullshit” line is still one of my all-time favorites from the series. Too bad the cops bust them.
Freaks and Geeks: Lindsay and Millie
When pothead Nick gives good-girl Lindsay his stash, she decides to try rolling her first joint after school one day. But she has a terrible, paranoid reaction to it — before she remembers she promised to babysit that night, so she enlists her old pal Millie to help out. She and Millie don’t smoke together — Millie would never, although that doesn’t change the fact that she’s the coolest character on Freaks and Geeks — but the ordeal brings the estranged friends together.
Roseanne: Roseanne, Dan, and Jackie
In “A Stash From the Past,” from Season 6, Roseanne finds a bag of weed in David’s room and punishes him — until Dan tells her that’s actually their old stash that she told him to throw out when she got pregnant. Dan, Roseanne, and Jackie decide to partake for old time’s sake, and realize in the process that they’re not getting any younger: “All I feel is old and tired and hungry,” Dan says. “Man,” Roseanne replies. “Maybe this is how we got fat.”
The Americans: Philip and Elizabeth
Considering the astronomical stress levels of their job as KGB spies, Philip and Elizabeth could stand to smoke more pot. In this episode, Philip comes home with a joint he saved from a spy mission involving a weed-happy 15-year-old, and he and Elizabeth smoke out their bedroom window and giggle like teenagers — until they start to contemplate the possibility of Philip having to sleep with that 15-year-old. Poor Philip and Elizabeth: Even when they’re high things look bleak.
Party Down: Constance and Henry
Pot makes several appearances on the beloved Party Down, but my favorite is this scene from Season 1. The gang caters a singles seminar for the elderly, and a run-in with an old flame (played by Ed Begley, Jr.) has Constance coming to terms with her age. He also has weed, which he shares with Constance and Henry, who’s new to the Party Down catering team. And there’s nothing like getting busted by the boss to bring two new co-workers together.
Mad Men: Peggy and the guys
“I’m Peggy Olson and I want to smoke some marijuana.” The line became a classic as soon as the words left Elisabeth Moss’s lips. Stuck at work on a Saturday while the higher-ups party at Roger’s country club, Paul and Smitty decide to call their “guy” for something to get their creative juices flowing. Peggy smells the smoke and invites herself along for the ride, learning that she’ll have to fit in with the guys if she wants to get anywhere in the advertising business (and also, that she likes to smoke pot).
High Maintenance: Ellen and Victor
True, every episode of High Maintenance brings disparate New Yorkers together with the help of weed. But “Ruth” features an especially poignant pairing of two seemingly unlikely people who have been set up by their weed dealer, “The Guy.” They don’t appear to have much in common, so to dispel the first-date awkwardness, they smoke a joint shielded by a tree in Prospect Park. The rest of the date is full of food and laughter.
Modern Family: Phil and Mitchell
It’s easy to bungle the whole “straight-laced-characters-get-too-high concept,” but this recent episode doesn’t make it too lame (I say “too” because this show in general is pretty lame; sorry, Modern Family, but you’ve got all those Emmys to keep you warm). Phil and Mitchell eat pot gummies before seeing a movie, but when they return home to check that Luke and Manny have things under control, their mutual paranoia gets the best of them.
That ’70s Show: The parents
The teenage basement-dwellers of That ’70s Show lived half their lives in a cloud of pot smoke, but here, the tables are turned. Red, Kitty, Midge, and Bob take the place of their kids in the stoner’s circle and get a little too loose: “You know, for a terrible grouch, Red is great in bed,” Kitty lets slip — while Red is upstairs, selling Eric’s car to some stranger at their yard sale.
Parenthood: the Holt siblings
Ok, this one’s more of a group sesh, but I love that the siblings get a chance to connect away from their kids and parents. In the second-ever episode of Parenthood, the adult siblings gather in the parking lot of their kids’ school after a fundraiser. After telling the family that his son has been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, Adam reveals that the bag of weed they found earlier is his daughter’s; soon, his wife, Kristina, lights up, and the grown-ups enjoy a moment of youth revisited (which is appropriately interrupted by their mother).