For a while there in the Aughts, I’m pretty sure there was an FCC regulation that required an Intervention rerun to be broadcast at all times of day and night. Today, there seems to be a similar rule governing the scheduling of 90 Day Fiancé.
Intervention was a reliable presence on the airwaves but certainly not a comforting one. The reality series provides a harrowing look at the lives and lax personal hygiene habits of alcoholics and drug addicts. In each episode, the family members of the person with the substance abuse problem try to help their loved one by joining forces with one of the show’s professional interveners, all of whom have the energy of a vice-principal at an unruly assembly. Apparently, new episodes are still being churned out—the show just completed its 21st season.
Here are all the people I remember from the episodes I saw:
- the guy who bray-wept during his intervention
- the young woman who sucked on cans of computer duster all the time, taking breaks only to cry about the absence of her father or exult, “It’s like I’m walking on sunshine!”
- the meth head who responded to his grandma’s expression of love with the immortal words, “Fuck you, Shirley”
- and the mom who chugged mouthwash and passed out on the front lawn
“I just like that burn,” the mouthwash chugger said of her preferred beverage.
Now, I have never swallowed mouthwash, so I can’t attest to how pleasurable getting your insides scorched by the stuff may be. But it’s precisely the harsh burn of alcohol-based mouthwashes when swished around over my gums and tongue that has made me a loyal user of alcohol-free Act instead.
I have tried rinsing with Listerine before, but it tastes like ignited—albeit minty!—kerosene. And I feel that I shouldn’t have to develop the skills of a fire eater at the circus just to keep my breath fresh.
Besides, Act is the “#1 Dentist Recommended Fluoride Brand.” It says so right there on the label.
Listerine claims to be “accepted” by the American Dental Association. But how enthusiastic is this acceptance? Does the ADA wholeheartedly embrace Listerine in all its over-the-top, alcohol-fueled intensity? Or is it the begrudging acceptance of a MAGA hat–wearing, middle-aged white male who will allow his “theatrical” adult son to bring his “friend,” Jeffrey, home for a visit, but will be GOT-DAMNED if they sleep in the same room?
I have also tried Listerine breath strips, which are these thin, greenish-blue rectangles you put on your tongue like a communion wafer and, in a miraculous act not unlike transubstantiation, the strip instantly dissolves and your halitosis is reborn as a kind of chemical—albeit minty!—toothpastey taste while a strong water-up-the-nose feeling fills your sinus cavity.
Basically, the people at Listerine are like, Why even bother making products if they don’t cause at least a little discomfort?
Anyhow, I don’t use Act for its breath-freshening properties but for the anticavity fluoride. My preferred breath freshener is chewing gum. In case you’re wondering, the American Dental Association does give its “Seal of Acceptance” to some kinds of sugar-free gum. According to the ADA website, gum can actually be beneficial to oral health because chewing it increases “salivary flow [that] can help neutralize and wash away the acids that are produced when food is broken down by the bacteria in plaque on teeth.”
Which is such a gross way of putting it that I may never chew gum again. In fact, I feel like rinsing my mouth out right now.