Mike Sacks is a guy who writes funny things for different magazines and put together a blog on his site of pictures he's taken off his TV. (He's either got Tivo or the quickest shutter finger of all time or has missed out on a mountain of insane shots to have built up the collection of zingers he's got.) Most of the pics are little chucklers from commercials or the local news but about halfway down the stack is this still from the all-time greatest episode of A&E's Intervention that ever aired. Did you ever see this one? The video stream from A&E's site is pretty wonky, but we guarantee it is worth dealing with the trainwreck of a player to watch this trainwreck of a Californian family. It is easily the strongest indictment of shitty West Coast parenting since River's Edge.
The parts with the 40-year-old morphine-addict who lives with his sister are pretty good (especially when he runs across the highway in his cowboy hat to get away from the intervention), but the real star of the episode is Kelly, a 20-something only child with a girl's name from southern California who's addicted to 40s. That's right, not addicted to alcohol in general, just shitty beer. If the fact that the episode's synopsis mentions his IQ wasn't enough of a give-away, the show opens with his parents talking about how they're worried that he's dead (from what, a beer overdose? Super-early-onset cirrhosis?) intercut with home movies of young Kelly in full pads at a rollerblading tournament. He is the living apotheosis of "My Child is an Honor Student at Dunston Middle School."
Unfortunately the A&E player keeps crashing my browser so I have to run this off of memory, but as I recall the Kelly section starts with him being released from lockup for public drunkenness then buying a 40 and going under a highway overpass to hang out with a couple of gutter punks. There is not a single moment he's on camera when he is not mugging like his life depends on it. The guy is seriously like the GE Smith of addicts. Every time he takes a sip of beer he puts himself in profile to the camera, upends the bottle into his mouth like a cartoon drunk, then says something to the effect of "Ahhhhh, man I love beer." Of the hundred-odd jaw-droppers he utters over the course of the first half hour, my favorites are "I love booze, and I LOVE not being part of society," "The bridge is my home now," and "I love my dog more than I could ever explain... probably except like your own child" (said with tears streaming down his face). What's even better though is if you pay attention during his megaswigs, you'll notice that the level of the beer barely changes. He's just got it propped up against his mouth.
But wait! Have you been sitting there in your safe, conformist lifestyle having a laugh at this poor, attention-starved laughingstock? Well you're going to feel like a total ass when you learn from his parents that as a teen Kelly was diagnosed with dyslexia—severe dyslexia—and was put in a special ed class and the "cruelty" of this experience is what led him to pick up the bottle at the tender age of 19. I don't think they ever say what age he is now, but at most he's got to be pushing 23, maaaybe 24. Which means he's been in a state of near-constant drunken irresponsibility for up to five years at the end of his teens. Which means he's a college student.
Actually, if you watch carefully, this is part when you start to piece together the real source of all his prob'ems. For the first 15 minutes, the majority of "loved one" screentime is taken up by his mom, who's your pretty standard suburban mom. Then stepdad slinks into the frame, looking and sounding for all the world like Michael P. Keaton crossed with Steve Buscemi's character in Ghost World. If I were ever casting a Viagra commercial and needed somebody to portray "impotence," I would choose this man, dressed as he is.
While stepdad is moaning on about Kelly's "potential" and all the chances he keeps giving him, Kelly calls his mom on his cell phone (!!) to try and get his dog back from them so he can hitchhike to Berkeley to meet his gross, be-dreaded girlfriend, Klover. Considering the fact that they don't show him actually getting a ride (although he does mention how dangerous is and that he's lost count of all the different crackheads he's been picked up by), I would bet a million dollars that the camera crew from A&E drove him up there. Then they drive him and Klover back down to Huntington Beach
There were times I had to pinch the space between my thumb and forefinger just short of bleeding to convince me that I was actually watching a serious TV program, such as when Kelly walks up to some middle-aged dude at the gas station with full camera crew in tow and goes "Hey brutha, could you possibly spare some change?" Followed by "Sweeeeeet." None of this, however, stands up to the onslaught of amazingness that is the actual intervention.
Kelly's mom calls to tell him that he could stop by the house to pick up his dog. Oh, by the way, the dog's name is O.D. As soon as he steps in the door of the family's enormous house they spring the trap and Kelly starts freaking out. While he's scouring the house for his dog his mom tears open a case of beer like it's some sort of emergency kit and tries to lure him back to the couch with it, and his real dad, a dude in a backwards baseball cap and wraparounds tells him that he can't chase him because he tore out his ACL skiing or boogie-boarding or something.
Kelly finally decides to split, only to discover that real dad has parked his truck in the driveway with O.D. in a cage in the back. I don't want to spoil the denouement for you, but let's just say if this stand-off doesn't convince you to beat the shit out of your son every waking second of his life like it did me, you are already part of the problem.