Jeff spends the first four seasons in a very different place than the viewer finds him for the bulk of Season 5. Frankly, no one would wish to model a life after the Buy Moron during these years. The closer one looks, though, the reasons behind his substance abuse and oftentimes bizarre behavior can be traced back to a decidedly deficient childhood.
Events conspired against him from the outset with his premature birth (vs. The Ex), and it only grew worse from there. His parents should have been thrown in prison if one didn’t already reside there. Indeed, Jeff’s mother calls the Chowchilla State Penitentiary home (vs. Truth), likely the reason Jeff informs his Buy More co-workers that she knows a dude who will torch the store if needed (vs. Cougars). Sadly, Jeff sees an ironic silver lining when he contemplates the possibility of his own incarceration: the chance to see his mom (vs. Zoom). The “only thing my mother taught me from the joint,” he laments, “was not to rat others out” (vs. Fat Lady), though he forgets another dubious one shared with Lester: “Knowledge is powder” (vs. Truth).
Unfortunately, Jeff’s father didn’t present much of an upgrade from his mom. When not throwing pineapples at his son (vs. Nemesis), though Jeff claims to have enjoyed the practice, his father tried to win back his wife from her affair with Uncle Steve in a manner that ended up turning the relationship into a threesome (vs. Hack Off). Is it any wonder that Jeff’s sister became a plus-size exotic dancer?
Perhaps the worst parental legacy, however, is Jeff’s introduction to addictive substances as early as his toddler years. At Morgan’s house party, the Nerd Herder claims he has been drinking “jail juice”, the flammable concoction filling the courtyard fountain, since he was in diapers (vs. Three Words). But Jeff likely progressed to more potent substances early on as well, for his mother’s lesson “Powder is knowledge” suggests some was lying around the house.
Thankfully, Dr. Devon’s prescription of not sleeping in the van (at least while it’s running) was the first step in giving Jeff a second chance.