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Fox’s “Glee” Features Stimulant Use Subplot

Check out these two clips from last night’s episode of Glee on Fox. In the episode, all of the Glee Club kids are tired and unmotivated. So they visit the school nurse, and she hooks them up with a little blue pill that cranks them all up to 11. Look familiar? The blue pill in the show is over-the-counter pseudoephedrine, but based on the affects shown in this episode it might as well be Adderall.

In this second clip, Rachel accuses Finn of cheating by taking performance enchancing pills. She makes  a good case…

Rachel’s argument for “natural motivation” is a parody that plays to her over-the-top character (which you know about if you watch the show), but it’s not far off from what you should shoot for…naturally motivating yourself with inspiring goals.

But ultimately, Rachel and the girls succumb to their need to keep up with the now super-powered boys and end up taking the little blue pills to.

Both the boys and the girls put on steller, hyper-energetic shows, fueled by little blue pills.

In the end, they get caught, and learn there lesson. Everybody goes away happy.

If you haven’t watched Glee yet, you should; it’s awesome. And check out this episode (Vitamin D) in particular.

It’s funny, this episode is based on the premise that a short-sighted and unqualified “nurse” gives the kids pep pills wrongly and gets fired for it. The kids take it once and learn their lesson. In real life, a real doctor gives the kids pep pills and nobody says anything (except to commend the kid’s great new study habits), and it takes the kid years to realize what the pills have done to him.

Two more points to ponder….

1. Take the plot of this episode and extend further by a few years. Let’s say Rachel stays off the pills and sticks to her natural motivation regime, while Finn stays on the pills through college and beyond. Now, for a good while it will be easier for Finn to outperform Rachel. But one day Finn will stop the pills, crash, and be back to square one…back to where his work habits were in high school before he started taking the pills. And Rachel will be blow past him because she spent those years working on her own natural drive.

2. The “nurse” in these clips is is actually main-character Will’s wife with no medical qualifications playing a nurse to keep an eye on him. If you watch the whole episode, you know that she has no business handing kids pills. There’s a scene shown in the second clip above where she hands the girls pills and says “Trust me, it’s good for you”. As the viewer of this show, you know that they shouldn’t trust her. But the same situation plays out in psychiatrists office everywhere. The doctor hands kids Adderall and you/parents trust him…because he’s a doctor….it must be good for you. Many psychiatrists today (IMHO) aren’t much better than this nurse character, though with better intentions and better training…handing out little blue pills as quick fixes when really it’s not a great long-term solution for many people.

Mental Health is different from Medicine. In medicine, pills can do wonders; pills can cure. But it’s different in mental health. There are significant consequences to remixing somebody’s thought patterns on a whim. Putting somebody on speed to “fix” their bad grades is not the same as putting somebody on Antibiotics to fix an affection. Psychiatrists have gotten a bit blurred on this point in recent years I think.

6 Responses to “Fox’s “Glee” Features Stimulant Use Subplot”

  1. veronica says:

    Mike – new site looks fantastic!

  2. Mike says:

    Thanks! I’m so happy to get a comment on the new design! I’ve been anxious to see how it went over ever since I put it up last night. Glad you like it!

    // Start impromptu sermon

    There’s a throwaway line in Robert Rodriguez’s movie Planet Terror:

    “You know, my girlfriend had a theory. She said at some point in your life, you find a use for every useless talent you ever had. It’s like connecting the dots. “

    I always liked that quote. Always hoped it was true.

    I thought about that quote a lot as I worked on this new design, realizing that if it wasn’t for all of the web skills (html, css, php) I had acquired through my day job (as a web software developer), the process of creating a theme for this site would probably be a lot more stressful. It was still difficult (because I’m not a great designer), but it wasn’t stressful (because I can look at web code and feel at home). It was great when my passion suddenly called for the exact skills I had acquired accidentally through my day job. It felt like maybe there was a meaning to all of it. Like I was connecting the dots.

    So it does happen.

    // End impromptu sermon

  3. InRecovery says:

    Thanks for the post!

    I have definitely seen a “amphetamine stimulant” storyline featured in a lot of tv shows and in novels. I figured I’d add some more in addition to Glee.

    On King of the Hill, there’s a funny episode where the son completely loses his personality when he gets prescribed on ritalin.

    On Desperate Housewives, in the first season, the character played by Felicity Huffman starts taking her sons’ ritalin and gets totally hooked on the pills, has a breakdown and eventually the other housewives intervene.

    I also caught this episode of an old cancelled drama called Kate Brasher where the teachers force a child to take ritalin because he’s acting up in school and the parents sue the school.

    I just read the latest John Sanford book, Storm Prey and the main character is a cop, who has a stash of dexedrine he uses to pull him through big cases.

    I know in the book On the Road by Jack Kerouc, the characters are constantly taking amphetamines. Before adderall, before ritalin was popular, people took an prescribe amphetamine nicknamed Bennys..

    I also read in one of the posts in the forums that there is an episode of South Park and ritalin which I missed… Anyway, that’s all I have for now…

  4. InRecovery says:

    LOL, I just found the South Park Clip – the ritalin episode. Here’s the synopsis – “After the entire class falls asleep during a reading of “A Farewell to Arms,” the doctor diagnoses all of them with ADD and they are prescribed Ritalin.”

    And Link


  5. InRecovery says:

    Here’s a compilation of Bobby Hill on King of the Hill on Ritalin


    And also, here is Bart Simpson on Ritalin


  6. Mike says:

    Awesome. Thanks for the tips and links, InRecovery! Makes my job easy. I’ll get these up as posts on the site over the next few weeks.

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