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INTERVIEW: Elizabeth Ho Talks Netflix’s Disjointed

Pnoto Credit: Robert Voets/Netflix

Chuck Lorre is a creator of television who’s known for his juggernaut CBS sitcoms The Big Bang Theory and Two and a Half Men. This season, he’s served up the Big Bang prequel Young Sheldon, which to know one’s surprise, is already racking up big numbers in the ratings department.

While Lorre populates primetime network TV with hit after hit, he has somewhat quietly infiltrated the streaming universe with Netflix’s Disjointed, a workplace comedy where weed rules. Yes, the workplace at the heart of the series is a pot dispensary.

Oscar winner Kathy Bates stars as Ruth Whitefeather Feldman, an eccentric activist who’s long been an advocate for legalization. She’s now realizing her dream as she runs Ruth’s Alternative Caring, a legit medicinal marijuana dispensary that’s located in the Los Angeles area.

In her employ is a cast of quirky characters including her uptight business-minded son (Mozart in the Jungle‘s Aaron Moten) and a security guard/military veteran dealing with PTSD (Truth Be Told‘s Tone Bell). There’s also her resident “budtenders”, the seriously stoned Pete (Dougie Baldwin), the tell-it-like-it-is Olivia (Elizabeth Alderfer) and the “tokin’ Asian” — her words as uttered in the show’s pilot — Jenny.

Elizabeth Ho plays Jenny, a character who struggles with her status. Her parents think she’s in medical school. Meanwhile, she’s simply happy working for Ruth.

Jenny’s journey is one the actress can relate to. She ended up on the theater track at USC, but it took a little bit of time to get there. “I actually started out as undecided in the business school because my father really wanted me to go into business,” Ho revealed. “I was really scared I would disappoint him if I didn’t do the business track, but I was so unhappy.”

“I took a year off and then I came back,” she continued. “I was like, ‘You know what? I don’t think he’ll realize I’m taking theater classes. He can’t go online and check what classes I’m taking unless I give him my password.’ Then I just started taking theater classes. It was like I had found home.”

And now Ho finds herself an Asian-American woman trying to navigate an industry where there are many obstacles standing in the way of success. “I remember in the beginning of working with my agents and my managers, having to sit down and we’re all trying to get to know each other and figure out, what is my product that I’m basically selling.”

It was important to her to avoid playing any stereotypical roles. “There are just certain stereotypes I felt very strongly I did not want to continue to portray or have be portrayed in media. I think there’s a place for them in terms of we’re showing where an Asian-American character has come from and where they’re going, but if that is the only function of them, I don’t want any part of it.”

Ho added: “I was really lucky that my team was able to understand what I wanted and be able to work with me. And then for casting to be able to have the open mind to see me for roles I wouldn’t necessarily go out for.”

Pnoto Credit: Robert Voets/Netflix

With Disjointed, Ho said she was happy to get to explore a world she knew almost nothing about. “I have a younger sister. I was the straight-laced, follow-the-rules lady. Didn’t do super rebellious stuff. I wasn’t very well-versed in the cannabis industry, but now I am. I’m very grateful for it. And it was really cool to see all the different aspects of the industry.”

Photo Credit: Patrick Wymore/Netflix

When asked for three reasons why streamers should binge the show sooner rather than later, she started with the presence of the great Kathy Bates. “She is a national treasure. Every scene she does we should all watch,” Ho raved. “This is such a different character than I’ve ever seen her play personally. It very much is the mother bear, but also she’s a lawyer that has a lot of fallacies, too. She’s just a human being with great hair.”

Pnoto Credit: Robert Voets/Netflix

Ho also enjoys the more unpredictable aspects the comedy offers. “It’s not the sitcom they expect. I know people really get stuck on the laugh track, but we have things like animated sequences that you wouldn’t get in, say something like the now defunct Mike and Molly or Two Broke Girls. It is a different way of looking at the sitcom genre and putting it on its head.”

Photo Credit: Patrick Wymore/Netflix

And, finally, much like Friday Night Lights was a series that was more than its football core, Ho feels Disjointed is more than marijuana. “It deals with things like PTSD, anxiety, mother/son relationships. I mean, it’s a Chuck Lorre show, so there are gonna be deep topics. But it’s all surrounded by humor. It’s a nice, comforting away to look at subjects that might be a little more challenging to peer into, but you have the blanket of comedy over it.”

“It ends up being like a nice lukewarm bath, question mark,” Ho continued. “Please include the lukewarm bath. I’m gonna be really excited to read that.”

Pnoto Credit: Robert Voets/Netflix

Done. As for her character, she’s enjoyed playing a woman who’s torn between wanting to please her family and wanting to do her own thing. It’s a fine line so many people face in their 20s, she said. “It was a privilege getting to play Jenny because I got to really explore those two sides, which I think a lot of immigrants, first generation, second generation kids have to go through, which is this idea of what is family, what is home. Then also, I want to be true to myself, and I want to follow the path that I want to follow, and how to balance that.”

Fun Fact: In real life Ho is a dog lover and she runs an Instagram account devoted to her pets, Cooper and Coco. Her handle features an awesome nod to a classic T.G.I.F. sitcom.

“Coops is my dog. I [actually] have two rescue dogs. I am that actress. They have their own Instagram page: hangingwithmrcoops, like the sitcom, Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper,” she explained. “We often go around the house asking [Coops] if we’re gonna go play ball. Then we want to do a cut to him playing basketball. It’s been really fun getting to post pictures daily of my dogs. I do very sassy captions.”

“There’s a whole animal Instagram community on there. Everyone is quite lovely and there are no trolls so far on their account. I’m sure if it happens, it happens, but everyone has been really kind because they’re dogs. How could you troll a dog? I’m sure I’ll find out now that I’ve opened my mouth.”

Her favorite TV animal of all time? She’s going with a certain muppet who likes the word “moi” more than anything. “I say Miss Piggy. Hands down,” Ho said. “When I was little, I wanted to be Miss Piggy so hard. And now that I’m older, I’m like, of course I want to be Miss Piggy. Not only is she fabulous. She doesn’t give a Shih Tzu about other people’s opinions and she’s just gonna roll the way she rolls. She’s a modern day feminist, you know.”

Pnoto Credit: Robert Voets/Netflix

The first ten episodes of Disjointed are already on Netflix. Ten more are set to drop. No date has been set just yet.

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