Commercial "Breaks" as Depressing as the News

Sherry McGuinn

The "mute" button is our friend.

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In our humble abode, our TVs are tuned into CNN a good part of the day.

My husband works from home and I write on Medium and of course, here on News Break. I’m in the basement and he’s upstairs. That said, one or both of us has a TV on.

Normally, I can’t write a new story with a television blaring in the background. Too distracting. But, when I’m tinkering or just checking email or expounding on social media, or geeking out on Amazon Prime, Jake Tapper or Wolf Blitzer or Poppy Harlow et al, are my virtual “companions.”

Now, as we know, we’re living in an unprecedented shit show.

Every day is worse than the last. So bad, in fact, that I wonder if we’ve become inured to it all. Kind of a “Yeah, what else ya got?” mentality.

Trump’s insanity. The ever-rising death toll. Racial intolerance. And in between, TV ads touting Big Pharma “solutions” for every ailment, both physical and emotional, known to man. Oh, and heartbreaking “mini-docs” of animal abuse.

From erectile dysfunction to schizophrenia, there’s a pill for everything and the drug companies are cashing in.

Of course, they are! We’re all effed up! How could we not be, living the way we do? And then, in between the pharmaceutical ads are those from the ASPCA asking for donations to combat animal abuse.

These are the commercials that affect me the most and that I find nearly impossible to watch. Immediately, I hit the mute button on the remote. I don’t feel guilty about this, however, as my husband and I are longtime ASPCA Guardians, meaning we donate automatically every month, as we also do for The North Shore Animal League.

Unfortunately, the people who do need to understand the horrific treatment that animals all over the world endure, are the ones who don’t give a damn.

They can turn a blind eye, pretend it’s all a “hoax,” like the virus, and therein lies the irony, folks.

Irony can be a bitch, can it not?

Let’s go back to the drugs. And let me make this clear: I am not discounting the need for them, nor do I lack empathy for those individuals who are prescribed these medications but, the news, along with the ads in between are an unrelenting assault of doom and gloom.

Watch a few minutes of Blitzer’s “The Situation Room” and bang! You’ll see an ad for Raptiva, which is prescribed for those suffering from psoriasis. My father struggled with this his whole life and it’s no picnic. That’s just one of the legion of drugs hawked during commercial breaks. Given that the median age of CNN’s viewers is 60, why should we be surprised, right? The general perception is that after 50, it’s all over anyway.

Sidenote: As I worked in advertising and marketing, I find myself marveling at some of the names for these drugs. I imagine a bunch of suits in a virtual meeting mulling over choices.

“Abilify? Yeah. That works.”

Back to CNN and a close-up of the Orange Turd’s despicable mug and then, like a shot, we’re treated to another ad for “Keeps,” an “FDA-approved treatment for hair loss.” Damn. I forgot about that one. Very popular stuff, apparently. Much like illness, baldness is big business.

By the way, don’t take “Keeps” if you’re allergic to it. Duh. One of my favorite disclaimers of all time.

These two remedies are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg, folks. Check out all the other stuff we’ve got goin’ on and the “cure-alls” prescribed by Big Pharma.

Something for everyone.

Abilify, as referenced above is an anti-psychotic manufactured by Bristol-Meyers. (Should probably be prescribed to Trump and his followers.)

Axiron, brought to us by Ely Lilly, is a testosterone-booster for men having, you know, issues. Again, POTUS might find it of use for his wee pee-pee.

Biktarvy, manufactured by Gilead, is specifically for the treatment of HIV. How they named this one is a mystery.

Chantix is for smokers who still don’t get that cigarettes can kill you! But, Big Daddy Pfizer claims that it will ease nicotine cravings. This is a case of “anything’s better than nothing.” Or, whatever works.

Cialis, from the good folks at Ely Lilly, is a “shot in the arm,” so to speak, for erectile dysfunction. Who can forget the commercial featuring a happy, ED-free couple in side-by-side bathtubs! That’s entertainment.

Cymbalta, yet another Ely Lilly medicinal is prescribed for depression. They must be selling out as I don’t know anyone who isn’t depressed.

Emgality is used to treat migraines brought on by erectile dysfunction. Kidding! I’m kidding, folks. Just trying to lighten the mood. My sister suffers from excruciating migraines so I know how horrible they are. Guess who the manufacturer is?

Humira, apparently very popular as this spot runs frequently, is an anti-inflammatory from AbbieVie, a subsidiary of Abbott. From everything I’ve read, each and every one of us is “inflamed,” in some fashion so I understand the hype.

Latuda is another antipsychotic that gets a lot of play which is concerning to say the least. I’ve mentioned two such drugs now and I can recall a time when such medications were never advertised. At least not on television. But, with COVID-19 screwing with us in every way possible, I can understand the possibility of widespread psychosis, with possible symptoms including delusions, hallucinations, talking incoherently, and agitation. The last two, I’m intimately familiar with, although schizophrenic I am not. Sunovion is the manufacturer, here.

I could go on and on but there are so many more Big Pharma productions between here and the letter Z, you’ll be nodding before you reach the end of this story, probably from that Ambien you popped. Or the Xanax. (Take two, they’re small.)

Funny, I don’t ever recall seeing a drug commercial for people who, like me, suffer from OCD. Maybe Madison Avenue thinks that shit is just too crazy to talk about. Everything else, though is fair game, even incontinence. I don’t know about uncontrollable “Number 2s,” though. That’s probably on the table as we speak.

Before I finish, I have to say a word about the disclaimers for all these medications. If they don’t scare the hell out of you, nothing will:

Here is just a sampling of what some of these meds can do to us. Dizziness, blurred vision, shortness of breath, headaches, blood clots, muscle spasms, nausea, stroke, heart attack, risk of addiction, allergic reactions, infections, tuberculosis, lymphoma, and other cancers, speaking in tongues…and sometimes even “fatal events may occur.”

Wow. I’m getting agitated just writing this. I could pop a pill, but I believe I’d be better off poppin’ the mute button on my remote when these advertisements air. I invite you to do the same.

You’ll feel better fast. Promise.

© Sherry McGuinn, 2020. All Rights Reserved.

Sherry McGuinn is a slightly-twisted, longtime Chicago-area writer and award-winning screenwriter. Her work has appeared in The Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, and numerous other publications. Sherry’s manager is currently pitching her newest screenplay, a drama with dark, comedic overtones and inspired by a true story.

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