The Office + Weeds = The Clinic

Former Paper Beautiful Person Danny Lee is the creator of The Clinic, a mockumentary about a marijuana clinic that Lee describes as "The Office-meets-Weeds" and is playing excusively on Hulu. Like most webisodes, you need to watch a couple of episodes to get into the characters. This definitely grew on me. I chatted with Lee about the show, how much pot he smokes and how the medical marijuana industry has responded to The Clinic.

How much weed do you smoke per day? 

I wouldn't consider myself a daily smoker. I did that as a teen, literally smoked before school, nutrition, lunch, after school, then before I went to sleep. If I did that today, I'd be probably be selling my blood for a living!  These days I smoke maybe every other day, mainly to medicate - whether it's for a throbbing headache or if I'm dying of boredom!

Do you allow/encourage smoking on the set?

For this project, no.  We were already under enough stress, shooting under what weren't the most safest of circumstances -- nocturnal hours in a not-so-glamorous section of Hollywood.  So if we added real marijuana to the mix, not only could the cops get involved but our production could be shut down. All of the smoke in The Clinic was rolled tobacco.

Have you heard any feedback from from those in the pot biz?

I've definitely heard screams from both sides. There are those who appreciate the comedic value and there are those few hardcore purists who think The Clinic is potentially a misguided reflection of the industry. I can see both sides. I strongly support and take medicinal marijuana seriously, so I do hope those purists can be reminded that our show is really just a workplace comedy that happens to take place in a marijuana dispensary. Is Frank Reynolds on It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia a typical father? Hell no. Typical is boring. I feel comedy is about characters with paradoxes and internal conflicts, otherwise what would be funny about a perfect cast in a perfect situation? Just watch an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm. The characters I've created are self-contained, and could work anywhere and still have the same laughs. And to be frank, while the majority of dispensaries out there are wholly focused on caregiving, there are a few out there who really just care about their bottom line. I've seen it firsthand, and found that conflict the most attractive for our show. Our clinic finds itself somewhere in the middle, and that's the dark cloud hanging over our main character Marty (played by Joe Hursley).

How many episodes have been commissioned. And what would you like to see come out of this project? TV show? More web shows?

We have six webisodes shot and ready to view on Hulu. We'd like either a television or continued web situation, as long as I can maintain the brand of humor that the show maintains now. 

Can you generalize about how Hollywood is adapting to the new reality of web TV?

Hollywood is slowly but surely adapting. There's Rob Corddry's Children's Hospital which recently made the leap from web to TV, among a host of others. I see the web as an incubation area, and a litmus test to see if people really give a s**t about a show. I see that as a huge benefit to the networks and studios.  Who needs to fork out a million bucks for a pilot when you can just see how it's doing online?  It's the wild wild web, and I intend to explore that frontier whenever appropriate.

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