The Secret Life of Us: articles

hash muffin scene

Drug diet… The hash muffin scene from The Secret Life Of Us has created a stir.

Hash snacks put the heat on hit TV show

Channel Ten's The Secret Life Of Us has been criticised for its portrayal of recreational drug use.

Last Monday's episode, which depicted several characters under the influence of ecstasy and eating hash muffins, has particularly disturbed anti-drug campaigners.

Previous episodes have shown the characters using ecstasy and cocaine and smoking joints.

David Crosbie, chief executive officer of drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre Odyssey House, is concerned the show "normalises" the use of drugs and alcohol and portrays it as desirable and acceptable social behaviour.

"The sense of not only normalising it as part of life in Australia but, more importantly, as a central and almost performance-enhancing part in terms of social interaction, I think that is the real concern," Mr Crosbie said.

The show is watched by about a million people each week.

Rated M and pitched at the 16- to 39-year-old demographic, The Secret Life Of Us last year earned the dubious honour of a Boozies Award, handed out annually by the Australian Drug Foundation (ADF) for excessive, inappropriate or unconscionable marketing of alcohol.

Geoff Munro, the ADF's director of the Centre for Youth Drug Studies, said that while there had been no formal analysis of the current series, their impression was that drug use in the show had increased.

A spokeswoman for Channel Ten said: "Any portrayal of drug use is very incidental, it's never a focus or a major theme. Drugs are never used in any explicit fashion. The program never promotes or endorses drug use."

The network said it had received only a handful of complaints regarding the show in its three seasons.

One of the stars of Secret Life, Deborah Mailman, who plays Kelly Lewis, defended the show's portrayal of drug use.

"The Secret Life Of Us portrays a recreational use and for a lot of people that's how they sort themselves out, by going to the bar and having a few drinks or whatever… escaping a bit from the woes of the world," she said.

"There are reasons why people go to those lengths and throw themselves in that kind of world, and for it to be a part of the show, it's not just, 'Hey, let's just show this for shock value,' there is a reason behind it."

The National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre's information manager Paul Dillon said the show was treading a fine line between reflecting social trends and setting them.

"It's not completely over the top," he said.

By Amy Lawson and Scott Ellis
May 05, 2003
The Sun-Herald