Everyone knows drugs are "bad". The wrong chemicals in the wrong brain at the wrong time can lead otherwise perfectly well-adjusted, law-abiding, compassionate people to commit acts of insanity, or indulge in rankly disturbing pastimes such as cannibalism. Yet no matter how insane certain drugs might make you act, the airwaves are rife with inaccurate portrayals of drugs on TV, most likely thanks to the centuries-long love affair between capitalist exploitation and protestant repression that so uniquely marks American culture. Welcome to a list of TV shows that exaggerated drug use in the most outlandish way possible, making it impossible not to laugh at or simply roll your eyes.
Speaking of absurd TV drug trips, who could forget very special episodes, the perfect ecapsulation of "family" televison's braindead, ham-fisted moralizing, which reached peak surrealism in the 1980s. Very special episodes were made to teach viewers lesson on important social issues like drug and alcohol abuse, violence, suicide, racism, and pretty much anything else controversial. From the grotesque womb of this condescending succubus were birthed some of the most over-the-top drug trips on TV.
Though very special episodes provided the world with some of the best, most over-the-top drug experiences on television, they're far from the only sinners. Television continues to prove that writing a real yet strong storylines involving drugs is difficult to do. So get our your mirror and razor blade, because it's time to get crunk on some DARE ish.
"I'm so excited, I'm so excited, I'm so... scared!" It's a Saved By The Bell episode everyone who was a kid in '90s America remembers. Jessie gets addicted to caffeine pills in a storyline that was written to address speed use. NBC wouldn't have it, so they decided on caffeine pills. Which ultimately makes more sense, because you can buy those at a convenience store, whereas speed you've gotta really want to get your hands on.
In this episode, brainy Jessie feels the stress of keeping up with school and her new band, Hot Sundae. To stay on top of things, she starts taking caffeine pills, but soon learns they do more damage than good. But not to fear; it only takes one episode for Jessie to get addicted and overcome addiction.
Actors: Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Mario Lopez, Dustin Diamond
Number of Seasons: 4
#83 on The Best TV Shows to Rewatchsee more on Saved by the Bell
Boy Meets World was a beloved show, sure to be on everyone's TV every Friday night throughout the '90s. Accounts from the Liberian Civil War attest to the fighting coming to a stop for 30 minutes each week, so comrades and foes alike could gather on the field of battle to laugh and love and learn with Cory and Topanga.
Episode 18 of Season 5, entitled "If You Can't Be With the One You Love...", really hit home in Monrovia, where General Butt Naked marched armies of coked-up child soldiers through the streets. In the episode, Cory and Shawn get drunk for the first time. Cory overdoes it and decides not to drink anymore; Shawn likes drinking too much, and becomes an alcoholic in a week.
Cory, Jack, Angela, and Topanga stage a makeshift intervention. Things escalate. Shawn, drunk, shoves Angela, then sees the error of his way. By the end of the episode, he's cured of alcoholism, makes amends with everyone, and is totally fine.
Actors: Ben Savage, Rider Strong, William Daniels
Number of Seasons: 7
#28 on The Best Series Finalessee more on Boy Meets World
It seems as if every episode of 7th Heaven was made to teach viewers something. In some cases, the show touched on heavy subjects, drugs, cutting, death. It may have been 100% cheesy, but hey, at least someone tried.
In Season 4 Episode 10, "Whose Nose?", Simon catches his schoolmates huffing spray paint. Their slurred speech is a true sign of of huffing paint; the paint all over their faces makes the whole thing ridiculous and cartoonish. Newsflash: "huffing" doesn't mean "rubbing all over your face."
The kids helpfully inform Simon "it's called huffing" after he tells them they'll get bad headaches doing it (no! not headaches! thankfully heroin can take the edge off). Then they tell him his life will be hell if he snitches, as if life isn't already an existential inferno.
In the end, Simon doesn't let peer pressure get the best of him, and even finds an opportunity to help when one of the kids gets a bloody nose and ends up in the hospital.
Actors: Stephen Collins, Catherine Hicks, Jessica Biel
Number of Seasons: 11
#9 on The Best '90s TV Dramassee more on 7th Heaven
Season 3 Episode 18 of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air takes you on a brutally emotional mechanical bull ride. Entitled "Just Say Yo ", it's full of mirth and tragedy, both of which hinges on Will stashing some speed in his locker just in case. Which, come on, if you were serious about the speed, you'd stash it in your damn mouth.
Anyway, at the prom, Carlton finds the pills, which are in an unmarked bottle, and thinks it wise to take some, somehow mistaking them for Vitamin E. This leads to a hysterical dance scene, which cultimates with Carlton passing out and getting rushed to hospital. But not to worry, the episode ends with a heartfelt apology from Will and a lot of crying and hugging.
Actors: Will Smith, James Avery, Alfonso Ribeiro
Number of Seasons: 6
#16 on The Best Series Finales
#22 on The Best TV Shows to Rewatchsee more on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air