Desperate Lives was a 1982 made-for-TV film about drug use in a high school. The film has a very strong anti-drug message and was very popular with my After School Special obsessed older sister. I have no idea how many times it was broadcast, but it would be a safe guess to say that we watched it every time it was on.
I remember it not for its strong anti-drug message (and its strong), nor for its Rick Springfield theme song. No, I remember it for the reason everyone remembers it, for the scene in which Helen Hunt (well her stunt woman) jumps out a window after a drug freakout.
Wait for it at the end of this trailer. It is worth the wait.
This is maybe the third most famous “don’t do drugs” PSA, right after “This is Your Brain on Drugs” and “I Learned It By Watching You.” But while those were melodramatic, this one was skeezy, haunting, and vaguely unsettling. The bleached-out colors and the empty swimming pool all serve to make for some evocative drug-addled sensibility, but the narrator sounds like he’s pretty wasted.
When I was a kid, ads and TV shows about drugs terrified me. I would stare at ads like this one for MetLife and have nightmares about kids injecting themselves with what looked like an eyedropper with a needle shoved into it. Oh, and don’t even get me started on the after-school specials (especially the one about angel dust). I guess I was a very impressionable kid. No way I was alone feeling this way, right?