Here’s a promising candidate for understatement of the year: Martha Stewart and Snoop Dogg were both a pretty big deal in the ’90s.
The decade witnessed the launch of the now-famous Martha Stewart Living magazine and television program, which catapulted Stewart’s already-rising profile to full celebrity status. By 1995, her picture graced the cover of New York Magazine, which declared her “the definitive American woman of our time.”
The era of inline skates and Starter jackets also saw the raw content and smooth flow of Calvin “Snoop Dogg” Broadus Jr. usher in the dawn of hip hop’s G-Funk Era on seminal West Coast classics like “The Chronic” and “Doggystyle.” In 1993, Snoop was “on the cover of the Rolling Stone” — the first of many high profile magazine covers — and by 1995 was making headlines with his combative appearance at that year’s now-infamous Source Hip Hop Awards.
So if you turned on your TV set in the ’90s, odds are you’d see one or both of them before too long. What you would never, ever see was the two of them together. Back then, they inhabited completely different cultural universes.
Gangsta rap wasn’t just a way to sell expensive headphones to white kids from the suburbs, it was a raw expression of social unrest that was seen as a serious threat by (and to) the cultural and political establishment. Meanwhile, Martha was seen as a tastemaker for middle America — the same people worried about the “corrupting influence” of gangsta rap on their children.
Or, to put a finer point on it, Martha Stewart was generally associated with the people selling you a Starter jacket and Snoop was associated with the dudes jumping you for your Starter jacket.
And now they cook possibly medicated food together on VH1. That’s the kind of magic that takes a lot of years and, ostensibly, a lot of weed to make happen.
Martha and Snoop have chemistry. You can see it in their first meeting — a 2008 episode of “Martha” that saw the pair making mashed potatoes and discussing Snoop’s (at the time) signature “double dutch” linguistics [read: fo shizzle]. You can see it in the footage of the Comedy Central Roast of Justin Bieber, where Snoop allegedly got Martha high beforehand. This was the joint appearance that arguably launched the series.
So when they “click” on camera during their show — and they do so beautifully sometimes — it’s easy to see what inspired the creation of the series.
That personal dimension of the show extends to the guests featured as well. The implied romantic spark between Martha and Rick Ross (who gifts Stewart with an iced-out cheese grater chain and gives her multiple back rubs) was almost certainly a comedic contrivance, but it was an effective one. Stewart is game to play the clueless white lady, and it can be effective to a point, but the show soars when the people on stage — especially the eponymous stars — are interacting naturally.
And the main weakness of the show’s writing in the first season fell squarely along those lines: the ham-fisted approach to racial humor, which felt inauthentic and stilted, lead to some of the show’s more uncomfortable moments. One episode in particular (a fried chicken-themed installment featuring guest appearances by rapper Wiz Khalifa and comedian Seth Rogen) drew extensive criticism for its hackneyed attempts at “edgy” comedy.
But when Snoop and Martha are riffing on cooking and cannabis the show absolutely soars. And if you like weed puns you’ll love the way they roll them in.
Do the writers lean on this central gag a bit hard at times? Like Rick Ross catching his breath against a wall after running a half marathon. But if anything, the secret sauce to its continued success would be an even stronger focus on bud.
More Weed Please
The whole show is a massive winking reference to the idea that these two people smoke weed together. You just want to see them light up a blunt and sesh with each other, but they never do. It’s like an old-timey burlesque show: everybody knows what the audience is there to see, and everybody (including the audience) knows they’re not going to actually see it. Instead they dance around the idea of that thing, concealing it with a fan here and a tassel or two there.
But think about it: The show is filmed in California, cannabis use is legal for all adults over 21 in California and Snoop and Martha are both over 40 — maybe it’s time to take the tassels off.
Because at the heart of it all, “Potluck” is a show about the love of cannabis. Weed is more than the foundational gimmick, it’s the animating force, the raison d’être: This show without weed is like Harold Melvin without the Blue Notes — it’ll never go platinum.
TELL US, what is your favorite cannabis-centric show?