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Best and Worst TV Shows of the Week

Best and Worst Network TV Shows of the Week. Shows are chosen by Parents Television Council Entertainment Analysts.

June 2 - June 8, 2003

Worst of the Week: That '70s Show
By Aubree Rankin

Fox's That 70s Show is a funny, nostalgic look at the late 1970s, complete with bell-bottom jeans, funky hairstyles, and a soundtrack of golden oldies.  Unfortunately what has the potential to be clever and witty usually sinks under the weight of crass sexual innuendos and constant references to teen drug use.

Last week's episode featured teenaged boys, Kelso, Fes, and Hyde in search of a marijuana stash they left in a friends' cabin.  Soon after the boys find the drugs, the adults return, catching them red-handed.  Hyde's girlfriend Jackie "rescues" Hyde by claiming the drugs were hers.  And, since Jackie's parents are never depicted on the series, the teens are not punished for smoking or owning the illegal drug. 

The unfortunate message of the show: Kids can outsmart unreasonable, unfair adults, keep their marijuana and continue their pot-smoking habit.  Score one for drug use! 

It can be said that marijuana has become a secondary character on That' 70s Show so prevalent is its influence. Every week the kids are shown smoking marijuana as if it is a fun way to relieve tension and socialize with friends.  The fact that illegal drug use by minors is taken so lightly on this series should be offensive to parents.

Recently, an article in The Los Angles Times quoted a professor of medicine at the University of California San Francisco saying that on-screen smoking references almost always make characters look sexy, rebellious, cool and defiant.  Dartmouth Medical School professors also have found that teens exposed to more smoking on film are much more likely to try it themselves.

When considering these two studies, it can be assumed that the fun image marijuana receives on That 70s Show might have a similar effect on kids watching the sitcom. 

According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy, 19% of eighth graders, 38% of tenth graders, and 48% of high school seniors report using marijuana at least once.  The physical consequences of smoking this drug include frequent respiratory infections, impaired memory and learning, increased heart rate, anxiety, and panic attacks. It is also noted that marijuana has 50-70% more cancer-causing hydrocarbons than plain cigarette smoke. 

Armed with this information, parents should be alarmed that this harmful drug is glamorized on this family-hour show.  Parents should have serious talks with their adolescent children after watching That 70s Show, and make sure they are keenly aware of the drug's harmful effects.  Further information regarding the prevention of marijuana use and the treatment for addiction can be found on the website for the Office of National Drug Control Policy, www.whitehousedrugpolicy.gov.

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