Cooked with Cannabis isn’t the first of its kind, but it is the latest to miss the mark.
On Monday (yes, April 20), Netflix dropped all six episodes of its new weed-infused cooking competition hosted by “Milkshake” singer-turned-chef Kelis and cannabis cuisine expert Leather Storrs. Each episode, three guest chefs are challenged to produce a three-course meal of CBD and THC-imbued dishes fitting a pre-set theme — backyard BBQ, wedding, comfort food, holidays, etc. — to be served to the show’s hosts and a hungry table of celebrity “buds.” The chef behind the most impressive dining experience walks away with a $10,000 prize.
An educational atmosphere more suited to calming background noise than riveting entertainment.
A successor to Netflix’s 2018 series Cooking on High, Cooked with Cannabis offers glossy packaging to a heavily stigmatized area of culinary experimentation. Set in what looks like an Urban Outfitters equipped with high-grade kitchen appliances, the series gradually introduces information about the artful intersection of weed and food with concise explanations on flavor and potency.
The commentary may seem basic to anyone moderately versed in the subject — sativa vs. indica, what a distillate is, etc. — but it’s an educational atmosphere that capitalizes on the weed industry’s sleek and modern approach to marketing in newly legalized areas. The result is a chilled-out but tuned-in vibe that feels like some very 2020 background noise in the making.
Of course, that’s faint praise in a genre as competitive as cooking. Though laden with weed puns and cloudy-headed mishaps, Cooked with Cannabis runs into the same problem many marijuana-centric shows, like Netflix’s dreadful scripted comedy Disjointed, have faced.
Weed humor is hard to make funny, and even harder to make funny to people who aren’t currently high or going to be high in the near future. Something hilarious to a group of guest judges three THC-heavy courses in is less amusing to a sober someone invested in seeing the show progress. It’s an issue exacerbated by the series’ wavering use of plot-propelling tension.
With some of the most relaxed contestants in the business and a gaggle of judges who often seem too stoned to make important calls, the competition bit of Cooked with Cannabis lacks the excitement needed to stay invested. Though dosing is explained clearly, it’s obvious everyone involved is operating on a “different” plane of existence. And while it’s nice to watch guests like Michael Rapaport, Sabrina Jalees, RuPaul’s Drag Race‘s Alaska, Elle King, and Flula Borg enjoy a satisfying meal, that doesn’t make up for an overarching lack of stakes.
Stuck between simple chemistry explanations and knowledgable weed jokes, Cooked with Cannabis can’t seem to sort out what audience it wants. Yes, it’s better than plenty of others shows trying the same schtick (though not anywhere near as good as VICE’s Bong Appétit), but it just can’t hit the sweet spot needed to bring the idea together.
Unfortunately, it seems Cooked on Cannabis is another opportunity Netflix missed to bring the talents of cannabis cooks to the masses. But given the increasing accessibility and acceptability of weed cuisine, we’ll always have next 420. And all the ones after that.
Cooked with Cannabis is now streaming on Netflix.