On Friday, Netflix debuted the world’s first ever “cannabis cooking show,” Cooking On High.
The new series combines the increasingly normalized use of marijuana products with the soaring popularity of shows like Chopped, Hell’s Kitchen and Iron Chef. It shows contestants whipping up dishes that are infused with THC, making them both delicious and psychoactive.
The show is hosted by Josh Leyva, known for a few film appearances in the last several years including Gaylo Returns and Dirty 30. He also posts regularly on YouTube, where he has over 2 million subscribers, and he has a massive following on Instagram. While Leyva portrays himself as a fitness fanatic, he proves on Cooking On High that he is no stranger to stoner culture.
The show seems to be structured around the assumption that viewers will be partaking as they watch. It has a slow, meandering pace and a carefree approach to its own competition. Each episode includes celebrity judges. The pilot brings in rapper Mod Sun and comedian Ramon Rivas II to analyze treats made by a former contestant on Chopped and a chef who specialized professionally in cannabis.
As reviews of the show trickle in, many have noted that it relies heavily on the assumption that its audience will be come with existing knowledge of America’s growing overt weed culture. Only five states remain where marijuana is completely illegal for both medical and recreational use — Idaho, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas and Wisconsin — but there are few places where it has become completely normalized, such as the west coast and Colorado.
Even in those places, however, the show is not meant for the the casual marijuana user. It is filled with references meant for true connoisseurs of cannabis and enthusiasts who keep track of different strains and paraphernalia.
The show also does little to cater to a typical reality and competition show audience. Perhaps thanks to the mellowing influence of the contestants’ creations, there is little drama or fighting on the air, and everyone tends to get along.
Netflix dropped 12 episodes of Cooking On High all at once. The streaming platform has been eschewing this pattern more and more, releasing half a season of original shows at a time such as The Ranch and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. In this case they decided to go with their old model.
Last month, Netflix also premiered Michelle Wolf’s talk show, The Break, which is now airing one episode per week. While binge-watching is becoming the norm for many, some are intimidated by shows with massive existing catalogues, finding them hard to jump right into.