During graduate school at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, some of us television, radio and film majors got the opportunity to meet Sam Mettler, the Emmy award-winning executive producer and creator of Intervention.
We watched an episode and afterward he sat for a Q&A session. No matter how prepared you think you are, the harsh honesty of the show will get under your skin.
“Intervention? Who’s intervening?” to quote the famous Seinfeld episode.
Of course, the subject matter should not be taken lightly, and the producers as well as Mettler take rehabilitating addicts very seriously. Passionately, even.
Entering its 14th season, the gripping and authentically disturbing reality show (though I would categorize it more as a docu-series) deals with the challenges of various types of addictions, especially substance abuse. The uncomfortably raw show originally aired on A&E until they canceled it in 2013. Luckily, Lifetime then picked it up, which totally surprised and thrilled me. LMN said it would be airing a new series in 2015, but A&E then announced it was re-adding the show to its lineup beginning in March.
Many people can degrade the value and necessity of reality shows, as many are considered controversially ghetto and purposeless. However, Intervention is one show that goes above and beyond. In so many ways, Intervention like The Biggest Loser, My 600-LB Life and Hoarders provides a second chance for those suffering and in dire need of help. Their lives and relationships are literally at stake. These shows all deal with personal trauma, psychological issues and resulting addictive tendencies.
Although most Intervention episodes deal with a slew of drug addicts, the show has also attempted to intervene in the lives of alcoholics as well anorexics, bulimics, compulsive shoppers, compulsive exercisers, food gluttons, inhalants, plastic surgery addicts, ragers, self-injurers, sexual addicts, and video-game addicts. Each episode tackles psychological and mental health reasons that can cause addictions, while also attempting to deal with comorbid situations relating to health issues that equally augment addictive behaviors.
Understandably, I recall Mettler telling some of us eager non-scripted, documentary types that his production crew is provided psychological counseling due to the heavy weight of stuff they witness while filming. Talk about going down deep, to the gutters, the ghettos, and the places most would rather avoid. All in order to intervene and give addicts a chance to change their life. While the show can’t save everyone, it’s an attempt to at least step in before it’s too late. It cannot go unnoticed as true honorable effort.
Unfortunately, since the show’s airing in 2005 and over the span of a whopping 194 episodes, nine addicts ended up dying as a result of their addition. A July 19, 2013 Gawker article proclaimed that the show had a 63% success rate with interventions, a bit lower than their success rate that was high as 77% back in 2010. Perhaps, starting in 2015 that number will change and hopefully there will be more tales of triumph, as a result of this brave show.
Intervention is currently casting. More information can be found on Lifetime’s website. I look forward to watching new episodes Tuesday at 9/8c on LMN. New episodes will also be airing on A&E starting Sunday, March 1at 9pm ET/PT