Saturday, October 17, 2009

Why I'm Tweaking Mad at "Glee"

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about how much I love the TV show Glee, but the episode I saw last night on Hulu deflated my infatuation. In an effort to spur the Glee Club on to winning their sectionals competition, the crazy school nurse dispenses psuedoephedrine decongestants to each member of the club, resulting in shiny, happy, overenergetic and of course, terrific performances - with very lame consequences. Do they not know who their audience is? What could be more appealing to a listless exhausted teenager?

Surely they’re aware that psuedoephedrine is regulated now in many states because it can be made into crystal meth? And that crystal meth addiction is an epidemic? I imagine the pharmaceutical companies that manuafacture these over-the-counter drugs are absolutely delighted. They're sure to sell more of it and have even more money for hiring expensive lobbyists to deter Congress from passing any legislation that would hurt the psuedoephedrine (and consequently, meth) industries.

I should reveal that I myself am a psuedoephedrine user. I have it in my medicine cabinet right now – it’s part of my winter cold, asthma and allergy desperation arsenal. When I buy it I have to sign a log book with my name and address, and show ID, but it is, as a rule, not that hard to get – and neither are directions for how tinker with it to make meth. Honestly, I’m surprised that the stuff is still available over the counter considering how quickly they whisked ephedra dietary supplements and Ma huang tea, which contain the same active ingredients, off the market because of their propensity to cause irregular heartbeat, seizures, and stroke. It was finally taken out of children’s cold medicines after 54 deaths.

One hundred and fifty thousand people seek treatment for crystal meth addiction each year – it’s currently the one of the most popular, dangerous and addictive street drugs out there. It’s also available and cheap. Maybe I'm extra-sensitive now because I’m reading a heartbreaking book, Beautiful Boy by David Sheff, about how meth addiction affected one California family. I wouldn't leap to the conclusion that the use of psuedephedrine makes crystal meth use more attractive, but why take that risk with our teenagers? We have enough problems with this drug without Glee irresponsibly stoking the fire.


Anonymous said...

Glee's broadcast of OTC drug abuse is UNCONSCIONABLE! OTC and Rx drug abuse is the #1 type of drug abuse among our teens now - - illicit drugs are way down - - but OTC drug abuse isn't illegal and people - including parents and teachers - think it's ok - the drugs can't be dangerous because they are sold over the counter.

Scary stuff. Kids will crush time released pills and snort them - or have "skittles" or "pharming" parties where everyone brings pills from home and they dump them in a bowl and take whatever.

(can you tell I'm on our town's Drug Abuse Prevention Task Force and we just had a presentation about this?)

Scary Scary Scary

tina said...

Hmmmm, I think it might be a drama ploy to get folks talking about it. Surely it was done tongue in cheek? Not too smart either way.

Joanne said...

I've heard a lot of good things about Glee, and am surprised they stooped to that level. Hopefully they'll hear a lot of backlash about it, but then again, that may have been their intent. Many think that ANY publicity is good publicity :(

tut-tut said...

Product placement is a powerful tool, JGH.

JGH said...

W, this is one of the things I worry about most as my kids get older - and they're barely into their "tweens".

Another scary thing I read is that Sudafed was among the top internet searches for hours afterwards.

Tina, in most other cases, I like the tongue in cheek tone of the show. I think this crossed the line, and I'm afraid kids won't recognize it as such.

Joanne, I'm wondering how much publicity they got now from doing this. I'm going to search and see how many blog posts I can find.

Tut, the boxes were generic - they actually looked more like Claratin packages - blue sky with fluffy clouds. But the words "non drowsy" were clearly visible!

Talon said...

I haven't watched the show, but had heard good things about it. I hadn't heard about this. It's sad that television shows sidestep any form of responsibility all in the name of "entertainment". Kids are impressionable and these networks know that. I guess that's why it's so important to have open, honest dialogue with your kids - even about stuff you never thought you'd have to discuss.

Proud Procrastinator said...

I got no gripe with Glee - the show portrayed the drug-dispensing nurse negatively and she was dismissed over it. The kids came to understand their decision to take the drug was wrong (and it was their decision - even though the nurse suggested it) and requested that the results of the competition be tossed. I thought they did a great job of demonstrating how trophies won by cheating are nothing to be proud of, and taught that its the child's responsibility to say no. This all with cold medicine - the effects of were grossly exaggarated (I just took some and I ain't doing any cheers, believe me). I thought it was brilliant, in fact and I continue to be on the Glee bandwagon.

Banning substances doesn't work. Addicts always find a way to obtain whatever it is they are addicted to. What works is teaching kids that nothing good comes from cheating (even feeling good) and to understand the warning signs of addiction.

JGH said...

PP, thanks for your thoughts – I definitely see your point. But I still think the consequences were lame. I’m not calling for a boycott of Glee - in fact I’ll probably still watch it and talk to the kids about the issues it raises.

What I worry about is the kids who didn’t have the insights into the outcome that you did. Or who didn’t even get to see the outcome because they were
too busy going through their parent’s medicine cabinet looking for Sudafed. In areas where the stuff is regulated, there are fewer meth labs period.

I agree that the addicts always find a way, but what about availablilty for kids who are not addicted but vulnerable - kids who have much less going for them than the kids in Glee, and parents (or school nurses!) who aren’t teaching those essential things.

Hope you get over your cold!

Proud Procrastinator said...

Well I only care about my child. Just kidding. That is a good point - our entire family watched it together and exchanged horrified looks when the nurse started dishing out the "vitamins". Some kids may be watching it alone, and they may not have gotten the irony. I guess that's where the old "it takes a village" argument comes in.

However, Sudafed is harmless, and it doesn't get you high. If on the odd chance this show gave the idea, for the first time, that they could take Sudafed and feel fantastic, sought it out and tried it, they would have been sorely disappointed.

But I gather your concern is not Sudafed, but Sudafed transformed into Meth. I don't think the show promoted this, but I didn't watch it from that vantage point.

I have never had to sign a log book to buy Sudafed and I buy it often (sinusitis) - Stop and Shop, CVS, A&P, Rite Aid - all sell it on the shelf. Are there a lot of Meth labs around here? I just did a quick search and it looks like our area is on the low side.

JGH said...

I do have the sense meth is less of a problem here than elsewhere, but I'm concerned about OTC too -- you know for every Rachel that takes the Sudafed according to package directions, there's gonna be a Terri who will do something loopy and stupid with it!

I've been paying attention for the past couple of days. Drug World definitely has the 12-hour behind the counter (that's where I buy it when I have to sign for it) but the Pe (little red ones) were there for the taking at a gas station I saw last night. Maybe it has to do with concentration...?

We should have a good discussion about the book tonight!

And we still have to discuss the crucial question that episode raises: Is Emma really gonna marry Ken!!??

Wendy McDonagh-Valentine said...

Are you kidding me?!!? How incredibly irresponsible!! You can be sure that there will be a HUGE outpouring of responses to this. In this day and age, you would think everyone involved in creating that episode and okaying it for television would know better.

On a brighter note . . . thank you SO much for my winning the book!! This is the first time I've ever won anything in blog land!! My regular email address is I will be happy to send it to you after you send me an email. I didn't realize that you're the same Jennifer that I know from Freeshare. Pregnancy brain is soooo bad this time around!! :)

~ Wendy