Doing Drugs On TV Versus Doing Drugs In Real Life

Caffeine Pills

As Seen On TV: In this infamous episode of Saved By The Bell, perfectionist Jessie Spano starts taking over-the-counter caffeine pills in order to keep up with the rigors of high school life. In the span of 22 minutes, we see Jessie pop her first pill and become a full-blown speed addict, eventually collapsing in Zack Morris’ arms after experiencing a brutal comedown. She was so excited and then she was so, so scared. After realizing she had developed a caffeine problem, Jessie vowed to never touch the awful stuff again!

In Reality: I’ve never taken caffeine pills (LOL, who has?) but I did take an Adderall once during my freshman year of college. Even though it’s probably 10x stronger than a No-Doz, I never got “Jessie Spano” high. Instead, I got distracted from studying and cleaned my room before finally settling down to take a Myspace quiz for FIVE HOURS. Needless to say, I also vowed to never touch the stuff again.


As Seen On TV: Historically, smoking weed has been portrayed as the devil’s drug on television. Remember on 7th Heaven when Matt had a joint in his drawer and his parents nearly pooped their pants in fear? The effects from pot have always been overly exaggerated on TV to keep conservatives happy. In this episode of Freaks and Geeks, however, marijuana is finally shown in a truthful light. Lindsay gets too stoned so she enlists the help of her Christian friend, Millie, to calm her down. She also gets paranoid about Millie waking up her dog which, let’s face it, is totally something a stoned person would freak out about.

In Reality: Weed is mostly whatevs. You laugh, you eat, you freak out about aliens and then you smoke some more. The only time it gets really crazy is when you eat an edible. Then you could actually hallucinate and lose your damn mind. Unfortunately, it’s happened to me before. I went to a house party after eating an edible once and spent the next three hours trying to walk out of the front door and call a cab. I was too stoned to dial though so someone had to do it for me and escort me to the car. The whole time I was thinking “WEED DID THIS TO ME?! REALLY?”


As Seen On TV: My favorite TV portrayal of cocaine addiction has to be Kelly Taylor from Beverly Hills, 90210. Despite never having touched drugs in her life, Kelly becomes a total cokehead psycho after her father bails on their lunch plans. For the next few episodes, her and her artist boyfriend Colin hole up in their Venice Beach loft and do tons of blow. Occasionally they’ll leave to rent a limo and go shopping, or buy more drugs at a place that resembles a crackhouse. Kelly finally quits coke and goes to rehab for two episodes. It’s never really mentioned again.

In Reality: Coke does make you bitchy and on edge. However, you’d have to be Rick James status to go into the near-psychosis Kelly and Colin went into. Also, just because you’re coked out doesn’t mean you forget how to use a hairbrush. I’m looking at you when I say that, Kelly.


As Seen On TV: In a very special episode of Dawson’s Creek, Andie McPhee steals Jen’s Ecstasy and takes it at a rave. She ends up having a blast (as she should, it’s ECSTASY) until she gets lightheaded and ODs on the jolly jump. Apparently it had an adverse reaction to her anti-depressants, which is why she went from loving life to being in a light coma so quickly.

In Reality: I’m not on anti-depressants so I can’t vouch for the validity of Andie’s OD, but I found Ecstasy to be pretty intense. My body felt like it was vibrating and my jaw was doing strange cokey things. Sure I felt mildly euphoric but it ultimately wasn’t worth the social shame I experienced from petting strangers. TC mark

image – Saved By The Bell

Ryan O'Connell

I'm a brat.


More From Thought Catalog

  • Raymond Roman

    “Weed is mostly whatevs.” lol

    • Nishant

      Exactly. I can’t believe you said that, Ryan. Are you high on condescension?

      • fart

        what the fuck? you clearly have never smoked weed because it really is whatevs

      • Nishant

        I live in Amsterdam. I think I’m qualified to pass a judgment.

      • matt good

         I live in BC, so I’m definitely qualified to pass judgment..

      • Nishant

        Hmm. What’s BC?

      • matt good

         british columbia

      • fart

        evidently not

  • Lolzies

    I always say I’m “Pulling a Jessie” when I know I’ll be up all night studying….

  • biteme

    All these examples are ridiculous because, as you pointed out, they pander to the conservative, Middle America audience. I like how Skins portrays drug use. And drinking. And sex. Actually, Skins is just a flawless show in general. Mostly I’m talking about the S1 & 2 cast, who were so great. It’s probably why US Skins tanked– Middle America isn’t ready for a realistic portrayal of kids having loads of fun.

    • coco

      well yeah and the fact that american skins is generally filled with bad acting, accents and no swag whatsoever

    • yes

      PREACH. love skins. wish s1 and s2 cast members never grew up. 

  • Idnxba

    I’ve done coke more-than-several times, with weeks or months in between and have never had to go to rehab for two episodes. People become addicted to wanting to do it when they drink and go out, but as far as actually stopping it’s not something you have to put any effort into…

    • Anonymous

      wow could this be any more ignorant? just because you barely do it and have an easy time not doing it doesn’t mean it’s that way for everyone

    • Mung

      Lol thats so true I done coke for 2 years and tbh I thought stopping smoking cigarettes was harder

  • mutterhals


    For me this ranks right up there with Tammy from The Real World shouting “IT WASN’T NOT FUNNY!” after David tried showing the world her underthings.

    • Age

       Haha! I Youtubed that Real World clip this morning and I forgot just how funny that was when it all went down.

  • guest

    Ryan, stop writing about drugs when you clearly don’t know what you’re talking about.

  • thegreendoor

    I have taken caffeine pills because i can’t stand the taste of coffee and even though tea has caffeine in it, i’m not convinced that i will keep me up for an all-nighter. Never in my 4 years of college did i ever have a reaction like Jessie did. That is probably the most exaggerated reaction to drugs i’ve seen on tv.

  • cw

    seriously this article is shit

  • Anonymous


  • Jordana Bevan

    i took some mandy to the face when i was on effexor and didn’t feel it all, so THANKS FOR LYING, DAWSON’S. i DID feel my empty supply bin of happy brain chemicals the next day, though.  didn’t even have the mental faculties to conjure thoughts for movement. also, doesn’t coke make everyone like super awesome and friendly and like “wow! words are happening between us?!!! fun!!!” before the bitchiness sets in?? am i a freak???

    • Anonymous

      you know there was probably a chance you could’ve died from taking that on effexor.  you should really be mindful of what kind of drugs you do when you’re on anti-depressants.

      • Jordana Bevan

        oddly enough, there was a reason i was on anti-depressants. i wasn’t particularly dedicated to having a future self at that point. but hey, thanks for the warning! thank g0d i have you

  • guest664

    do some more drugs ryan, then write drug articles.

    all of your drug articles draw on the same examples: weed, coke, alcohol, caffeine, molly…
    it’s kind of boring tbh. 

  • Christina Carroll

    FYI, taking too many caffeine pills at once can make you sick to your stomach for days. Found this out the hard way in high school. Never take more than one or two at a time, or better yet, drink a coffee. 

  • margot

    Stop writing about drugs, you’re not good at them.

  • guest

    This is the same person who wrote the “Top Ten Drug Records” article in which he admitted to having never tried hallucinogens…

  • Ellie

    Why is the number of articles published by Ryan O’Connell equal to the number of articles published by every other Thought Cataloger combined? 

    • MD

      Ryan O’Connell IS Thought Catalog! 

  • Anonymous

    it’s really mind boggling that people will do any drugs when on anti-depressants.  i know people with serotonin syndrome, it’s fucking horrible.

  • Miss Navarro

    HILARIOUS… you are one of my favorite writers… 

  • Mariah Lancaster

    Oh my god.
    1. People. Keep it in your pants. Don’t get mad at Ryan just because he hasn’t done as much coke as you have. Just pat yourself on the back and for the love of god plug that nosebleed.

    2. RYAN. Fun as always, but EDIBLES. I FEEL YOU. My fellow college students are so pro-legalization, and (while I agree) I always just wanna say “Eat a really intense brownie. Then come tell me it’s harmless.” Fucking nuts.

    Oh, and I love you. You’re marvy.

  • Genghis

    Don’t wake the dog! Can’t wait to show everyone I know who blazes that video hahaha

blog comments powered by Disqus