Reality TV

This is an intervention…

Yesterday, I thought I might watch a movie or something. I like to watch old films from the 70s and 80s. I find them oddly comforting. The last time I watched TV, I watched a Canadian cop show called Under Arrest on Netflix. I ended up watching a couple more episodes of that, even though I had seen them before. Then I noticed that Netflix has Intervention available.

Intervention was a show that used to air on A&E. It was on for some time, and I went through a time of watching it a lot. I’m not sure what attracted me to that show, since it’s frequently very depressing. You see these young, often beautiful, talented, beloved people in the throes of horrible addictions of any stripe. The addictions are usually deadly or are going to lead to ruin, and if the addict doesn’t get help, he or she is destined for an early death. Although Intervention episodes often end with the target going to a treatment program, a lot of them quit treatment or relapse. Quite a few people who were on Intervention have died.

Last night I was watching episodes from 2008. Looking at my iTunes collection, I see that I could have watched them on Apple TV, since I purchased the episodes I watched last night when we lived in Germany the first time. I also notice, now that I’m looking at my library, that German Netflix has omitted a few episodes. No matter, though, because almost all of them are downers. It’s just that some people have more compelling stories than others.

I watched the episode about a woman named Brittany who was born five years after her sister was abducted, raped, and murdered. Brittany’s sister, Terri Sharee Jones, was apparently my age. She was just nine years old when her killer took her from her bedroom while she was sleeping. Naturally, her parents were appalled and devastated by the crime, and Brittany’s mother, Diane, apparently blamed herself. Baby Brittany, born in 1986, gave Diane a new lease on life… but the whole time she was growing up, people compared her to her dead sister and acted as if Terri had been reincarnated through her. Then, one of Brittany’s father’s friends molested her. It seems that sexual abuse and death of a sibling often lead a person into the hell of addiction, and Brittany got a double helping of that.

Brittany became addicted to Dilaudid. Her mother and grandmother were supporting her habit, and Brittany, who had been such a beautiful, happy, talented child, fell into prostitution. But she did agree to go to treatment, at least, even if she didn’t stay the course.

I was curious about Brittany after I finished watching. I went Googling, and found that Brittany was arrested a couple of times and looked absolutely horrible in her mug shots. And then, in September of this year, she finally died. Her obituary was very sad. I noticed that besides her sister, Terri, Brittany was predeceased by another sister, Tracy, was just 44 years old when she died, and her father, who had seemed so loving on the show. I don’t know why Brittany died at just 33 years old, but I could see by her mug shots that she’d had a tough go of it. I can’t even imagine the grief her mother deals with having lost three out of her four daughters.

I watched another episode about a woman named Nicole who had an eating disorder called dysphagia that caused her to use a feeding tube for many years. She was unable to swallow, so she would constantly spit into cups… saliva and chewed up food, mostly. Then I was reminded of how, back when I was writing content for a few content mills, I wrote an article about Oral Expulsion Syndrome (OES), otherwise known as “chew and spit”. I first heard of OES in the 80s. It was a very obscure disorder, and I want to say I read about some celebrity that suffered from it. Years later, when I needed a fresh topic to write about for a freelance project, I wrote about OES.

I sold the article to Associated Content, which included passages within it about Dolly Parton, who had written about it as a diet technique in her book, My Life and Other Unfinished Business. Dolly had promoted the idea as if it wasn’t dangerous. She wrote that a lot of celebrities keep thin that way, even though it actually is a harmful habit. I happened to read Dolly’s book by chance. Back when Bill and I were broke, I used to buy books at the thrift shop on Fort Belvoir. I’d read and review them on, and sometimes make money if the reviews were popular. Over about eleven years, I made roughly $12,000 writing there, which isn’t bad when you consider that a lot of my reviews were about books, travel, or music (not typically well paying specialties). I probably paid a quarter for Dolly’s hardcover book and made many times that using it as a resource for writing projects, including my article about OES.

Well… I have found that article about OES floating around on the Internet, although it’s no longer attributed to me. There’s not much I can do about it, since I did sell the rights to it (for not enough money, apparently). I guess now, I’m just amused by it, since back when I wrote the article, I could barely find any information about Oral Expulsion Syndrome or its other names. Now, if you Google Oral Expulsion Syndrome (also called Rumination Syndrome), you will find a lot of references to it. I guess I hadn’t imagined that obscure article from the 80s, after all. Here’s another Web site that uses hacked up bits of my writing about Dolly and her OES habit.

I have to be careful not to overdose on Intervention, though, because sometimes the stories on that show make me want to write/vent, and that gets me in trouble. One episode I watched in 2010, when it was new, and several years later, was about a woman named Jackie. She lived in North Carolina and had been married to a doctor. She had a beautiful daughter and was well off financially. But then she became an alcoholic and got a divorce. I’ve seen that episode twice, and after both viewings, I felt compelled to write about it. I was absolutely disgusted by the way Jackie’s family treated her. She was a very sick woman and, it was plain to me, that most of the people in her family were also sick. But they treated her horribly. I was particularly horrified by the heartless way Jackie’s sister and daughter treated her. So I wrote an angry rant about it…

After some time, I got a comment from the mother of the daughter’s boyfriend, who was angry that I was writing about Jackie’s daughter. She suggested that I “lock down” my blog and that I had gotten the girl all wrong. Ultimately, I deleted the original post and rewrote it, slightly softening my stance… but ONLY because Jackie’s daughter was a minor when the show was taped, probably had no choice in being on the show, the hour was obviously edited for entertainment purposes, and she was clearly manipulated by her aunt. Above all, I changed the article because when it comes right down to it, she lost her mother, and that’s a tragedy. It didn’t change how I felt about the family or the girl’s behavior. She’s now a grown woman and, I hope, less selfish and callous than she appeared to be on Intervention.

Anyway… last night, I had originally planned to watch something less intense than Intervention is, but you know what they say about good intentions. I’ll probably watch a few more episodes today, and maybe do some shopping for the holidays and planning for our big trip to France. I joined The Fork yesterday, which is a Trip Advisor owned reservation service that appears to be popular in France. I kind of hesitate to use it, though, because it gets bad reviews. Also, I don’t know when we’re going to get to Beaune. I just hope we can find something there… although I guess there’s always the Carrefour.