Cultural references to Prozac, etc., in the '90s and '00s
January 5, 2011 12:52 PM   Subscribe

A job for the hive mind: I'm looking for cultural references to antidepressants and other psychoactive drugs (Ritalin, Adderall, etc) from the '90s and '00s: stuff along the lines of Tony Soprano using Prozac in The Sopranos.

This is for a thing I'm writing, in which I'm trying to document the growth of our national obsession with psych medication during this time period. Songs, TV shows, New Yorker cartoons (though I've already got Roz Chast's "If They Had Prozac in the 19th Century," it's a gem)—all fair game. Any suggestions are most appreciated!
posted by toomuchkatherine to Society & Culture (32 answers total)
Listening to Prozac
Prozac Nation
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 12:56 PM on January 5, 2011

Thanks. Any books that are directly about antidepressants, I probably already have. Though I'd be interested in something I might've missed, like a character using antidepressants in a novel.
posted by toomuchkatherine at 1:00 PM on January 5, 2011

There's a Simpsons where Bart (or maybe Milhouse) is on Ritalin. Likely in the 1990s.
posted by neuron at 1:06 PM on January 5, 2011

Ritalin use is referred to in Green Day's American Idiot. Focusin, as featured in the Simpsons, is pretty clearly Ritalin or Adderal.
posted by norm at 1:07 PM on January 5, 2011

Henry Rollins' spoken word performances from that time often touched on his prescriptions for Ritalin as a kid.

Tom Cruise railed against Ritalin in the famous "you're glib" interview on the Today Show.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:15 PM on January 5, 2011

IMDB keyword searches might be useful start: Find movies/tv shows that have been assigned relevant keywords: prozac, ritalin, anti-depressant, etc... Finds movies, TV series, and individual episodes.
posted by ManInSuit at 1:15 PM on January 5, 2011

Pilot episode of the Brady Bunch:

Carol (to Mike, on phone): Why don't you take a tranquilizer?

Mike: Already took one.
posted by Melismata at 1:15 PM on January 5, 2011

The movie Brain Candy was basically entirely about this.
posted by burnmp3s at 1:16 PM on January 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

That exact Simpsons episode is "Brother's Little Helper", which aired in 1999.

The main character in Garden State (2004) reveals his father had him on mood stabilizers for years, and he's just recently stopped taking them.
posted by castlebravo at 1:17 PM on January 5, 2011

"I'm trying to document the growth of our national obsession with psych medication during this time period"

posted by ManInSuit at 1:24 PM on January 5, 2011

Besides the Simpsons episode where Bart goes on Focusin, there's another one (The Good, The Sad & The Drugly) where Lisa gets put on an anti-depressant. Every bad thing she sees has a smiley face on it!
posted by onceisnotenough at 1:26 PM on January 5, 2011

Although I gather your question/research is U.S.-centric, Bernard Sumner of New Order/Electronic/Bad Lieutenant took part in a BBC documentary called Prozac Diaries in which he discusses the drug's effect on his creativity.
posted by mykescipark at 1:28 PM on January 5, 2011

A song by Reckless Kelly called "Wiggles & Ritalin" takes on the overmedicating of kids and whether it turns them in habitual user escapists.
posted by pineapple at 1:35 PM on January 5, 2011

The movie "Garden State" features anti-depressants, if you're looking for something on the totally-unrealistic end of the spectrum. The character Mirabelle is (more realistically) on anti-depressants in the book "Shopgirl," and I think the film too.
posted by drjimmy11 at 1:36 PM on January 5, 2011

There is much talk of antidepressants in David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest. A character named Kate Gompert attempts suicide: "On Prozac for a short time, then Zoloft, most recently Parnate with a lithium kicker."

End note 69: "69 NA = Narcotics Anonymous; CA = Cocaine Anonymous. In some cities there are also Psychedelics Anonymous, Nicotine Anonymous (also, confusingly, called NA), Designer Drugs Anonymous, Steroids Anonymous, even (especially in and around Manhattan) something called Prozac Anonymous. In none of these Anonymous fellowships anywhere is it possible to avoid confronting the God stuff, eventually."

End note 273: "S.S.R.I.s, of which Zoloft and the ill-fated Prozac were the ancestors."
posted by mattbucher at 1:39 PM on January 5, 2011

Garth, take your Ritalin
posted by asockpuppet at 1:49 PM on January 5, 2011

Prozac Nation - the book and movie.
posted by cestmoi15 at 1:49 PM on January 5, 2011

For a song, Ted Leo's Heart Problems
posted by quadrilaterals at 2:10 PM on January 5, 2011

Thumbsucker (2005)
posted by arveale at 2:21 PM on January 5, 2011

Just recently watched an episode of Big Love in which Margene complains to her neighbor (Pam?) that she's so sad, and the neighbor hands her a bunch of Zoloft.
posted by medeine at 2:25 PM on January 5, 2011

The TV Show "Intervention" generally might be of interest. Plenty of participants on pills, but other drugs as well.

The TV Show Nurse Jackie has the main character taking pills frequently, though I don't know what kind they are supposed to be. She scams/manipulated the pharmacist to get them, or steals them from patients and once a drug dealer.
posted by cranberrymonger at 2:50 PM on January 5, 2011

Nurse Jackie takes stimulants (Adderall?) and pain medication--oxycontin, I think.
posted by the young rope-rider at 3:05 PM on January 5, 2011

They make references to multiple meds in the Sopranos.

Tony takes Lithium as well as Prozac during the second season; they think about putting AJ on stimulants at some point after he sneaks some communion wine; Tony's shrink takes something for compulsive behavior in the second season; Tony's mother is put on an anti-depressant in the second season or the first episode of the third season; Adriana gets put on an anti-depressant for IBS in the third season (I think); Meadow's roommate Katelynn is put on something for her anxiety/obsessions (Buspar?)...there are more that I'm missing, I'm sure.
posted by the young rope-rider at 3:13 PM on January 5, 2011

That jerk Lily Allen has a sanctimony-laden song called "Everyone's At It" about psychoactive drugs, and I'm sure the Hold Steady's catalog is a rich vein of material, considering they've got a song called "Ask Her for Adderall."

More of a stretch, but here is a juxtaposition I've always enjoyed. Compare and contrast.

This song from 1997: "there's so much to see through/like our parents do more drugs than we do"

And this one from 2001: "99 percent of my life I was lied to/I just found out my mom smokes more dope than I do"
posted by clavicle at 3:14 PM on January 5, 2011

The song "Lithium" by Nirvana

The Corrections by Franzen has made up medications in it

Love and Other Drugs has drugs in it


Academic papers about psychiatry in modern cinema/film are prevalent and would probably contain a lot more examples. Good luck!
posted by the young rope-rider at 3:37 PM on January 5, 2011

Highly recommend the documentary, Does Your Soul Have a Cold?, about how marketing antidepressants in Japan was followed by a huge shift in their cultural perception about depression evolving into an actual illness.

Assuming you might want something to contrast American psychoactive drug culture and perception with, that is... pretty interesting to see how another culture perceives this issue and it was made within the last few years.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 8:11 PM on January 5, 2011

Do broadway musicals count? I recently watched Next to Normal (wiki spoiler alert! entire synopsis within!), and while most of the musical deals with that sort of thing there is a song that specifically lists Prozac (briefly, but it does).
posted by sprezzy at 9:57 PM on January 5, 2011

'He's reading Balzac and knocking back Prozac/ It's the helping hand that makes you feel wonderfully bland' - Blur, Country House, 1995
posted by mippy at 8:21 AM on January 6, 2011

"Peggy's Turtle Song," a hysterical episode of King of the Hill in which Bobby eats way too much sugary cereal before school and is subsequently labeled as ADD and put on medication (probably Ritalin, although I don't think they say specifically what it is). The effects they show of hyperfocus after he takes it are wonderful (fly rubbing wings together, "milk in the fridge about to go bad--and there it goes").

In Alison Bechdel's Dykes to Watch Out For, two characters went on antidepressants. Lois used Prozac (storyline played out in this book) and Clarice used Effexor (this book, I think). Clarice's results were definitely more positive than Lois's (and I think her depression--triggered largely by the Bush-Gore election--was more profound).
posted by dlugoczaj at 9:39 AM on January 6, 2011

In Bret Easton Ellis' novel American Psycho, Patrick Bateman reveals that he has been taking Halcion, a controversial sleep drug that turned out to have some incredible psychoactive effects and was blamed for several murders in real life.
posted by heatvision at 12:07 PM on January 6, 2011

Big, 1988. Susan gets flustered about sth and blurts, "But that's what Xanax is for, isn't it?"
posted by JimN2TAW at 10:02 PM on August 6, 2011

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