When I heard that MTV was focusing on life with diabetes in an episode of “True Life,” I was… interested….hopeful….but skeptical. Over the years, I’ve watched a few episodes of “True Life,” but never one that related to MY life. Like most MTV programs, “True Life” can be fascinating and engrossing; however, MTV shows can also be tacky, crass, trashy, and just plain disgusting. I admit to a guilty pleasure where “The Hills” and “Laguna Beach” are concerned and even from time to time “The Real World.”
I realize that I am not MTV’s target audience–they want my kids! When I was teaching high school, I found it valuable to keep up on current teen culture and now as a parent of a teen, I still do! Happily, my teen is not the least bit interested in MTV (well, okay, he has watched the occasional episode of “Bully Beat Down” with his dad because, really, who doesn’t want to see a bully get his comeuppance?) As for my tween, KC? She doesn’t rely on MTV to provide her with the latest music videos or hot music, so the channel isn’t even on her radar. All that being said, I decided to give “True Life: I Have Diabetes” a shot (ugh, terrible diabetes pun, not intended!)
The program focuses on three diabetics: “On this episode of True Life you’ll meet three young diabetics faced with the challenges of managing their condition. Kristyn is forced to move back in with her parents because her health care costs are spiraling out of control. Matthew is determined not to let the disease compromise his partying lifestyle at college – despite the fact that drinking alcohol is dangerous for diabetics. And Jen is finding it difficult to control her symptoms while pregnant — which is putting her baby’s life at risk. They live with a constant threat to their well being. How will they cope?”
Let me start by letting you know how I felt when I finished watching the show: sick to my stomache, angry, and sad. And here’s why…
First, I am struck with the lumping of Type1 and Type 2 together. No real explanation of the difference between the two—d$#m! Here we go again!
Kristyn appears to be trying hard to support herself by working two jobs but this is to the detriment of her health. Her pump is old and failing. Her insurance will either not provide a new one or the co-pay is more than she can afford. She has racked up credit card debt. The show flashes back to her in high school–attractive, trim, athletic. Now she is overweight–is she prone to being overweight, is this due to depression, is it just because she is not taking care of herself? I wanted to know what happened–but this was never addressed. The producers probably think all diabetics are overweight. Her parents offer to let her move back in, rent-free, but with not without many rules. Her mother comes across as a witch. The family appears to live in a nice house–but no offer to help pay for the pump appears. This infuriated me–maybe, I’m too soft, but I cannot imagine not doing whatever I needed to do in order to make sure KC has the medical supplies/equipment she needs. If it means that I never take another vacation, so be it. If I never get a new car, so be it. My husband feels the same way. KC didn’t ask for this disease; she didn’t bring it on herself so we will be there whenever and however she needs us. Furthermore, I know that the pump companies have payment plans available. Even if her credit couldn’t get her the payment plan in her name, her parents could have taken it out on her behalf. $50 a month isn’t a lot when you look at how most people spend their money: going out to eat/drink, going to movies or clubs, getting that Starbucks every work day. Prioritize people! (And if you don’t agree with me, you are entitled to your own opinion..but you are not going to change mine!)
Then there is Matthew. What an idiot! He’s determined not to let diabetes ruin his “college experience”, which appears to be all about getting so drunk he pukes. Never mind that the drinking is making him sick–which as we all know means he’s probably missing quite a few days of class as well. He will drink himself into a stupor on a regular basis but admits that he was the “perfect T1” patient when he was a kid/high school student. I can only imagine what his parents thought when they saw this show! He’s quick to claim that as soon as he graduates, he’ll stop drinking. I hope he lives that long. This episode terrified me. Scared me to death about sending my girl off to college. It is not that I’m a prude about drinking–far from it. But the additional risks to T1s is too great. Would I like KC to be able to enjoy a glass of wine when she’s an adult? If she wants to, but I rather she think those are wasted carbs!
As for Jen: she’s either type 2 or gestational–I can’t remember–living on chicken McNuggets and greasy fast food. I’m supposed to feel sorry for her? She’s got social workers, a nutritionist etc. all telling her what she is doing wrong and then her mom brings her more junk food. To make matters worse, the show said that she turned into a Type 1. She never improved her eating habits, didn’t exercise, and they didn’t show a doctor telling her she was Type 1. I think the producers mistook insulin dependence for being Type 1. And as we know, insulin dependence alone does not make you a Type 1–they are different diseases. Again, I was upset that the show did not clearly explain the differences between the types.
I don’t know if parents of T1s should watch this show or not. I don’t know if teens/tweens with T1 should watch it or not. I told KC about it and asked if she wanted to see it. She said “No, I don’t need to see people acting stupid about their diabetes.”