Why Intervention Is Screwed Up


There once was a time in a distant land when I actually enjoyed watching Intervention. The novelty of watching people destroy their lives had not worn off yet, and seeing someone being driven to points of desperation I thought only existed in movies seemed appealing and new.

But that’s no longer the case. In its ninth season, Intervention appears to be at a creative crossroads. I feel like I’ve seen the same person shoot up heroin a thousand times. I’ve heard too many tearful pleas from enabling mothers who married abusive men and felt responsible for their child’s addiction. I’ve diagnosed divorce and a lack of Christian morals as being a major contributor to leading the life of a crack whore. Here comes another damaged junkie. I bet her parents split when she was two and there was a tragic death in the family. What else is new?

Becoming jaded to the plights of addicts is somewhat disturbing. You should never yawn when you see someone shoot up drugs, but here I am! Yawning away as Jennifer-the molestation victim-shoots up in a seedy motel with her BF who’s also her pimp. Ugh, how did I get to this place of being so desensitized? What has my addiction to Intervention done to my empathy?

After doing recaps for the last few months, I feel like it’s time to voice my true opinions of the show. Like most of America, I love watching train wrecks from the comfort of my apartment. It makes me feel better about myself, which is the point of 99.9% of reality television. After watching Intervention for the past four years, however, I’ve found their narrative to be problematic. Besides exploiting someone at their weakest moment in order to boost ratings, Intervention also has a creepy Christian vibe. It makes sense, seeing as how the foundation of AA or any recovery program is based upon a belief in a higher power, but Intervention always seems to find blame in a divorce or a dissolution of family values. For many addicts featured on the show, that’s where their trouble begins. I’m not saying that a broken home isn’t enough to trigger an addiction. I just wish Intervention would include other kinds of stories. Sometimes people get addicted to drugs “just because.” There’s nothing to scapegoat. Someone who’s genetically predisposed to developing an addiction does a drug and likes it too much. That’s it. The end. That kind of story, however, is too risque for Intervention to tell. There needs to be a clear cut reason as to why someone abuses drugs. Otherwise, the story is just too frightening.

I may be wearing my feminist hat too tight, but I also feel like the show has an implicit anti-woman angle as well. The show has had plenty of addicts who are fathers, but the obligation they have to their children is not nearly harped on as much as an addict mother. When a mom is addicted to drugs or alcohol, there is this constant discussion of her needing to be “a good mother.” She’s vilified for her addiction mostly because she’s expected to care for her children. Granted, all of these are valid inoffensive points. What is glaring, however, is the inequity in blame. In the world of Intervention, the expectations of a mother seem to be much greater than a father’s.

Along with their weird ideas about gender and religion, there’s also just the fact that they’re a reality show operating under the guise of helping people. The show has probably saved a lot of lives by paying for treatment, but it’s still clearly a mutually beneficial relationship. Help is provided but only after someone has exposed themselves to the public in their darkest moments. I honestly believe Intervention does more good than harm but it’s still a TV show. No matter what great deed is being done, you can rest assured that someone is profiting off of it.

This post
originally appeared on Thought Catalog. Republished with permission.

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