Monday, August 28, 2006

Sunday Night TV

Two of my favorite TV shows are on Sunday nights, Intervention and Flavor of Love. I think Michael K over at DListed has Flavor of Love covered, so I’m going to tell you a little about Intervention. Every show follows the same script:

Intro: So-and-So and So-and-So have agreed to be in a documentary about addiction. They have no idea they will soon face an intervention.

Scene 1: Subject looks into the camera, spells out his or her first name (“My name is Amy, A-M-Y”) and tells us what their problem is (“and I’m a heroin and meth addict.”)

Scene 2: Family and friends tell the audience about the subject’s crazy behavior, and then tell us how they weren’t always that way, and include some fond memories and childhood pictures.


Scene 3: We are treated to a typical day in the subject’s life, usually including the crazy stuff they go through to “score.”


Scene 4: Subject’s family, and one or two former close friends from the “pre-addiction” days, gather with the interventionist and have a meeting to get them all on the same page. The interventionists are Jeff VanVonderen and Candy something-or-other.

Scene 5: The day of the intervention. Family and friends gather in a hotel room where the subject is supposed to meet them for the final interview for the “documentary.” Subject shows up and hugs and kisses amongst the friends and relatives they haven’t seen for a while commence. Interventionist stands up, shakes the subject’s hand and says “These people love you a whole lot and they have some things to tell you,” or words to that effect. The family begins to read HIGHLY SCRIPTED letters to the subject:

Intervention letter script:

A pleasant memory about pre-addiction times with the subject

How the subject’s addiction has negatively affected the loved one’s relationship with him or her

A plea for the subject to enter treatment today (emphasize today)

At this point, the subject either protests his or her need for treatment at all, or else tries to buy time before he or she has to leave to “handle some business.” In other words, they want one last chance to get fucked up. Jeff or Candy informs him or her that the family will provide any resources the subject needs to get his or her affairs in order before he or she leaves for treatment. This inspires a round of “But this, but that” protests from the subject, all of which are masterfully refuted by the interventionists. Many subjects accept treatment at this point. Some of the more stubborn subjects need to hear the final item in the intervention letters, the consequences. Here, the family members and friends threaten to end all financial and emotional support for the subject and issue the ultimatum that if the subject doesn’t accept treatment TODAY that their relationships will be terminated. In every episode I’ve seen, even the most addicted subjects agree to enter treatment at this point.


Scene 6: The subject is shown on an airplane traveling to some treatment center somewhere. He or she is introduced to the people who run the facility, and is shown settling into their new home.

Scene 7: Where are they now? This is where we find out, via short interviews and white words on a black background, whether or not the subject completed treatment and remained clean. Some do, some don’t. Some are clean for a while, and then start using again.

Why do I like this show so much?

It’s entertaining to watch the hoops these crazy people jump through in their everyday lives simply to maintain their addicted lifestyle
Every single episode is the same, which adds a certain cheesy quality—Addicts are so predictable!
The interventionists are humorous in their staunch beliefs that these people WILL DIE if they don’t go to treatment TODAY, and their “recovery” attitudes in general
I have been around many, many people with substance abuse issues and I have had to confront them myself, so it hits close to home
Most importantly, Intervention raises interesting issues regarding the dynamics between the addict’s lifestyle and how their loved ones enable that lifestyle. It lets you draw your own conclusions about those connections, unlike so many shows that beat the viewer over the head with “explanations” of the “issues” involved.

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