Intervention (TV series)
Title screen of seasons 1-15.
|Created by||Sam Mettler|
Others; see "Interventionists" section
"Five Steps" (closing song)
Performed by The Davenports
Craig Marks (Theme & Incidental music, 2005 – 2013)
Dominic Messenger (Incidental music, 2006 – 2007)
"Breathe Me" (2008 season preview song)
Performed by Sia Furler
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||16|
|No. of episodes||275 (list of episodes)|
Handheld HDV cameras
|Running time||43 minutes|
|Picture format||NTSC (480i)
|Original release||March 6, 2005– present|
Intervention is an American documentary television series that premiered on March 6, 2005 on A&E. It follows one/two participant(s), who are dependent or are addicted, documented in anticipation of an intervention by family and/or friends. During the intervention, each participant is given an ultimatum: go into rehabilitation immediately, or risk losing contact, income, or other privileges from the loved ones who instigated the intervention. The producers usually follow up a while later to monitor the addicted person's progress and film it for "follow-up" episodes of the series or for shorter "web updates" available on the show's website.
On May 24, 2013, A&E announced they had concluded the series, with remaining episodes to begin airing in June 2013. The final episode in the lineup aired on July 18, 2013 and concluded with reflections from past addicts and a thank you from the producers to the interventionists, family members, treatment centers, and addicts themselves. On August 5, 2014, however, LMN announced the revival of the series with a new season premiering in 2015. A&E revealed the return of the show on January 13, 2015, and aired both a special behind-the-scenes episode—providing viewers with first-hand accounts at the filming process by the production crew, as well as updates from former addicts—and the Season 14 premiere on March 22, 2015.
Part 1 of season 14 ended on May 10, 2015. Ten additional episodes aired July 26, 2015.
The show follows one or two participants who are either substance dependent or have severe addiction. They are filmed over a period of time until an intervention conducted with an interventionist, in which they are often captured using drugs, alcohol, or the substance they are abusive of. Relatives, friends and closed ones are interviewed by the producers, with certain parts intercut with the footage of the show. The interventions are often practiced or prepared ahead of the time the addict(s) walks in. Once started, they are given an ultimatum: Either they undergo a 90-day, all-expenses-paid treatment plan at a rehabilitation facility, or risk losing contact, income or privileges from their relatives, friends and close ones.
As in real life, several addicts have walked out although almost all eventually accept treatment. As of 2012, only four addicts have completely refused: Alissa in Season 1, Marquel in Season 8, Adam in Season 9, and Larry in Season 11. A fifth person, Sean in Season 12, agreed to go but bailed during the drive. In addition, Betsy in Season 2 accepted treatment, as long as her boyfriend could go too. During a layover in Chicago, the two decided to go home and try to get sober on their own. However, Betsy did go to treatment after her family held their defenses. A number of addicts who initially agreed have left treatment early due to rule violations, behavioral problems or a desire to not attend. Some addicts who leave early go to prison or enter another facility to continue treatment; others never complete the rehab process, with the majority relapsing and continuing their former habits.
Occasionally, during an episode, the plight of another addict in the addict's circle becomes apparent, and the show often makes additional plans to help the other addict find treatment as well. These secondary interventions, like the primary ones, have a mixed record of success and failure. Additionally, the secondary addict sometimes promises to seek treatment to get the primary to have treatment, only to back out once the primary departs (example: Paul, stepfather of OxyContin addict Ryan from Season 3, tells Ryan that he intends to seek help for his drinking problem, but later backs out of going to rehab himself, though he does quit drinking independently).
In situations where the circle has become codependents, or are otherwise traumatized by the addict's behavior, the interventionist usually recommends that the entire seek counseling to enable them to move on. This has led to some successful family reunions (Coley, a serious meth addict, got clean while his family went through counseling, and his marriage to wife Francine was saved by the intervention) and complete dissolution of relationships (Leslie, a suburban housewife alcoholic, went through court-ordered rehab while her family received counseling at the Betty Ford Clinic; after both treatment programs ended, Leslie and her husband finalized their divorce). Some families will promise to attend counseling to convince the addict to accept treatment, only to bail afterwards (example: Bulimic alcoholic Amber from Season 9 agrees to go to rehab only if her entire family signs a contract to attend the Betty Ford Clinic's family counseling program; though everyone signs the contract in her presence, none of them followed through once she headed off to the treatment center).
Each episode ends with a series of black screens (white in season 13), upon which text discusse the addicts and their progress since the intervention (including a sobriety date, if known), followed by its website link that invites viewers to find out more information on addiction and recovery. The white screens are updated with new information each time the show is re-aired on A&E, and some video updates are made available on the show's website. Occasionally, an update documents an outreach to the addict from fans. The update for siblings Brooks and Ian's follow-up episode that re-aired in early 2008 indicated that Brooks had met and married a fan in 2007. At the end of the original episode featuring alcoholic banker and bar brawler Jacob, he stated that he was planning to enroll in college for the upcoming semester; the black screen update for his episode that re-aired in early 2008 indicated that a fan had contacted the producers after the show's airing and offered to pay for Jacob's college tuition.
Occasionally, the addict becomes suspicious that he/she is being set up for an intervention, having watched the show before, or recognizes one of the featured interventionists on sight upon being brought into the final meeting place.
In conjunction with interventions that involve addicts where sudden withdrawal is dangerous, a nurse accompanies them to the rehab center, providing medical assistance for the addict. Patients with addictions that could cause serious risk to their health upon cessation of the substance abuse usually spend time in a detox facility before entering rehab.
Deaths of participants
As of January 12, 2017, the following 23 addicts profiled on the show are deceased:
|Person||Season||Original Addiction||Date of Death||Cause of Death||Notes|
|Laurie M.||2||Prescription drug||July 8, 2015||Unspecified|
|Lauren B.||Heroin||May 24, 2016||Lung cancer|
|Dillon B.||3||Methamphetamine||November 2011||Suicide||During standoff with police|
|Brooke B.||4||Prescription drug||December 21, 2014||Meth overdose|
|John T.||Alcohol||January 7, 2013||Suicide|
|Lawrence R.||Alcohol||February 23, 2008||Esophageal bleeding||Bleeding resulted from cirrhosis|
|Charles W.||Alcohol||March 10, 2014||Overdose||Substance unspecified|
|Ben L.||DMX||December 21, 2016||Unspecified|
|Mike F.||5||Obsessive–compulsive disorder||September 2011||Completed treatment; was on medication until unable to buy|
|Derek M.||Alcohol||December 30, 2016||Car accident|
|Chris B.||6||August 28, 2009||Suicide||Completed treatment; relapsed|
|Sandy S.||Alcohol||June 2011||Diabetic ketoacidosis||Completed treatment in 2009; developed diabetes|
|John C.||Diabetes||September 30, 2014||Heart attack|
|Nik B.||Heroin||November 29, 2014||Surgical complications|
|Sebastian R.||7||April 2013||Heart attack/Stroke||Sober at death|
|Bret C.||Alcohol||June 19, 2009||Esophageal cancer||Successful treatment; 105 days sober|
|Jackie W.||8||Alcohol||January 10, 2013||Unspecified||Sober since September 6, 2009|
|Ryan B.||9||December 14, 2014||Cirrhosis|
|Austin P.||10||2011||Heroin overdose|
|Megan W.||Opiates||February 9, 2014||Completed treatment before death|
|Jeff J.||Alcohol||November 17, 2016||Kidney failure|
|Sean M.||12||January 2014||Liver failure|
|Brittany H.||15||Heroin||August 20, 2016||Overdose|
The "cast" for each episode is primarily the addict and their family members, circle of friends and others. The only regular cast member in each episode is the interventionist, whose job it is to conduct the intervention. The show originally featured three regular specialists:
- Ken Seeley: A methamphetamine addict who founded Intervention-911, a service specializing not just in interventions but also in finding appropriate treatment centers for each kind of addict.
- Jeff VanVonderen: A former pastor and alcoholic who became a full-time interventionist to help families through their moral and social issues involved with addiction.
- Candy Finnigan: An alcoholic who became an interventionist to help families work through their issues and problems; she specializes in counseling female addicts, especially addicted mothers.
Later additions to the cast:
- John Southworth: Founder of Southworth Associates, LLC, an Idaho-based intervention/counseling service. He was the interventionist for Jason, a heroin addict, in episode 123, and became a regular interventionist in Season 10.
- Rod Espudo: An interventionist of over 20 years, he also joined the cast in Season 10.
- Donna Chavous: A former addict who became an interventionist and sober coach; joined the cast in Season 11.
- Seth Jaffe: A former heroin addict; was a sober coach on the spinoff series Relapse (also on A&E) and joined the cast in Season 12.
- Sylvia Parsons: An alcoholic who was the subject of a Season 2 episode. She became a certified interventionist after achieving sobriety, and joined the cast in Season 14.
Occasionally, other therapists have made appearances to offset the workload among the regulars:
- Tara Fields, PhD, M.F.T.: Also a licensed marriage and family therapist. In Season 1 she was the interventionist for Vanessa (episode 1), Christine (episode 9) and in Season 2 for Howard (episode 16), Heidi (episode 18) and Gina (episode 25).
- Jenn Berman, PsyD: A Beverly Hills-based psychotherapist who made a single appearance in Episode 22. She was the interventionist for Annie, who had an eating disorder.
- Lee FitzGerald: A staff member at Promises Treatment Centers. She was the interventionist for John in episode 122.
Jeff VanVonderen took an extended leave of absence in Season 5 after admitting during the special episode "Intervention: After-Treatment Special" that he relapsed with alcohol. He returned in Season 6 and has remained with the series since then.
Ken Seeley left the series after completing the intervention for Linda in Season 8 to focus on his personal intervention service, Intervention-911. He returned to conduct the intervention for Al, a crystal meth/painkiller/marijuana addict, in Season 13, and returned to the series in Season 14.
Most episodes feature "everyday" people struggling with their addictions, but entertainment professionals have also been featured.
- Vanessa Marquez, a supporting actress on the first three seasons of ER, appeared in episode 2 due to a compulsive shopping disorder.
- Travis Meeks, lead singer of the Alternative rock band Days of the New, appeared in episode 6, focusing on his methamphetamine addiction.
- Antwahn Nance, a 6'10" former NBA power forward for the LA Clippers, was featured in episode 4, as he ended up homeless due to his crack cocaine addiction.
- Chuckie Negron, the son of Three Dog Night vocalist Chuck Negron, was featured in episode 6, as he battled heroin addiction.
- Tressa Thompson, a women's shot put champion, was featured in episode 7, as her Olympic dreams were crushed by her methamphetamine drug abuse.
- Chad Gerlach, a member of the Postal Service Pro Cycling Team featured in episode 1, ended up living on the streets and smoking crack cocaine after his dismissal from the team.
- Aaron Brink, aka Dick Delaware, a porn star and once moderately successful mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter, featured in episode 8, lost both careers due to his methamphetamine addiction.
- Rocky Lockridge, a two-time Super Featherweight boxing champion, was featured in episode 113, due to his homelessness and drug addiction.
- Robby Pardlo, formerly of City High, was featured in episode 9, battling his alcoholism.
- Linda Li, an actress who played a Taresian woman in the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Favorite Son" as well as appearing as an extra in over 200 TV shows and movies, was featured in episode 1, battles an addiction to Actiq (transmucosal Fentanyl lozenge on a stick, a.k.a. "perc-a-pop").
- Lorna Dune, a Soul Train dancer who worked her way up to an A&R position at A&M Records, was shown in Season 9 battling a crack cocaine addiction.
- David Sax Jr., the son of former Major League Baseball player Dave Sax and nephew of former Major League Baseball player Steve Sax, was shown battling an addiction to methamphetamine and alcohol.
Addictions covered by the show have included:
- Anorexia nervosa
- Bulimia nervosa
- Compulsive buying disorder
- Compulsive exercise
- Drug addiction, both legal (over-the-counter medication, prescription drugs) and illegal (heroin, meth, crack, cocaine)
- Food addiction
- Inhalant addiction
- Gambling addiction
- Plastic surgery addiction
- Rage addiction
- Sexual addiction
- Video game addiction
- Comorbid health problems that can exacerbate an addiction, such as diabetes
- psychological issues that can exacerbate an addiction, such as bipolar disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder
|Season||Episodes||Specials||First aired||Last aired|
|1||14||1||March 6, 2005||August 21, 2005|
|2||21||—||October 30, 2005||December 17, 2006|
|3||15||—||March 16, 2007||September 7, 2007|
|4||10||—||December 3, 2007||March 17, 2008|
|5||17||4||June 23, 2008||November 30, 2008|
|6||14||1||December 15, 2008||March 23, 2009|
|7||17||3||May 25, 2009||October 19, 2009|
|8||18||1||November 23, 2009||May 10, 2010|
|9||9||—||June 28, 2010||August 22, 2010|
|10||13||—||December 13, 2010||March 21, 2011|
|11||12||—||June 20, 2011||September 12, 2011|
|12||13||—||January 2, 2012||April 2, 2012|
|13||21||—||August 13, 2012||February 4, 2013|
|14||12||—||June 13, 2013||December 30, 2014|
|15||29||—||January 6, 2015||August 30, 2015|
|16||30||—||March 6, 2016||January 3, 2017|
- 2009 Emmy award for Outstanding Reality Program
Matthew Gilbert (The Boston Globe), a critic of the show, argues that the program is exploitative and showcases individuals as they self-destruct. He also argues that the confrontation within the intervention is milked to show only the most dramatic moments and that the final results of the intervention and subsequent rehabilitation is glossed-over.
Melanie McFarland, another television critic, also laments that the show does little to educate on successful intervention and instead deceives the subjects of each episode in order to film them at their lowest point.
During the spring of 2011, A&E aired the series Relapse, which ran for five episodes. Each episode focused on sober coaches' work with long-time addicts who have been unable to get clean despite repeated attempts at treatment. Seth Jaffe, one of the coaches, later became an interventionist on the main series.
On March 8, 2016, Intervention: Codependent premiered on LMN.
In popular culture
As of 2012[update], Funny or Die has featured two parodies of Intervention. One of the first Intervention parodies to appear anywhere, Kristin Chenoweth's short "Intervention with Kristin Chenoweth", was released August 27, 2008. The video features Chenoweth giving a gay crystal meth addict a cheerful Broadway-style singing intervention. More recently, in April 2011, another Intervention satire debuted on the site, this one entitled "Intervention Intervention", featuring Fred Armisen playing a man addicted to the television show Intervention.
Toronto-based television station CFTO-TV created a series of spoofs in early 2009 starring local weather personality Dave Devall. Devall would act as an "assistant" to families needing "winterventions" for family members ill-dressed for Canadian winters as part of advertising for that station's news shows. These commercials aired almost a year before the first A&E-produced episodes of Intervention that were shot in Canada and featured Canadian addicts debuted on Canadian Television.
On April 16, 2010, a video entitled "Best Cry Ever" was posted on the popular video-sharing site YouTube, featuring a clip from Season 7 episode "Rocky", which told the story of former professional boxer Rocky Lockridge, who lost everything, including contact with his sons, to drugs. The clip centers around a dramatic scene in which Rocky is seen crying amongst his relatives. As of January 2013[update], the original video has attained over 48 million views and has become an Internet phenomenon. A Saturday Night Live sketch featured an Intervention parody with guest host Jon Hamm crying in a similar fashion. The season 3 premiere episode of The Cleveland Show also parodies "Best Cry Ever", when Cleveland breaks down after his old friend Peter confesses that he still cares for him; this gets the attention of Cleveland's friends and the Evil Monkey.
The April 28, 2010 episode of the TV series South Park parodied the show by doing an Intervention-style documentary on character Towelie in the episode "Crippled Summer". The episode includes on-screen text blocks to provide subtext or details, and culminates in a scene where the boys confront Towelie about his drug addiction. The counselor insists, as the real-life interventionists often do, that all parties be allowed to "say whatever they need to say" to one another during the course of the actual intervention, which leads to Cartman endlessly harassing Kyle with insults and racial/ethnic/religious slurs.
A season 3 episode of the HBO television show True Blood contains a segment with Hoyt's mother attempting to intervene in Hoyt's relationship with newborn vampire Jessica. Hoyt's mother turns up at his workplace with Summer in tow (whom she believes Hoyt should be dating instead of a newborn vamp), along with the local school's guidance counselor. Hoyt says he has work to do and doesn't have time to talk, but the guidance counselor, acting as the "interventionist", stops Hoyt from leaving, parodying Jeff VanVonderen's traditional intervention opening lines ("I'm here for these folks who really love you like crazy, and want you to hear them out, and then you can say what you want to say"). The characters then read their letters out loud, all of which open with "Dear Hoyt" (similar to letters the families normally write to their loved ones as part of the interventions depicted in Intervention).
In the 30 Rock episode "Queen of Jordan", which subtly parodies several reality TV shows, Jenna tries to get more screen time for herself on Angie's reality show by convincing Pete to stage an intervention for her alcoholism, even though she is not an alcoholic. Pete tries to teach her a lesson by arranging for her to be taken to rehab; knowing she won't be featured on camera if she is away from the show, Jenna knocks her designated escort unconscious and escapes back to Angie's party.
In a skit from an episode of Tosh.0 that first aired October 18, 2011, host Daniel Tosh turns his normal "Web Redemption" segment (where a person or group who appeared in a notorious or embarrassing online video are given a chance to explain themselves via interview/event recreation) into an "intervention" for a Wisconsin man named Tim, whose videotaped trip on shrooms turned into a YouTube sensation. Tosh reveals the redemption segment is really an "intervention" about 2/3 of the way through when he lures Tim into leaving the room with him on the pretense of going to see "a Lady Antebellum laser light show"; when they open the door to leave the interview room, Tim discovers they are in a small hotel conference room, in which Tim's "family and friends" are gathered all around. Tosh uses Jeff VanVonderen's trademark intro ("These people love you like crazy...") and introduces Tim's mom and dad, some other people "who are probably early for the next intervention", and a clown who's "addicted to smiles" that Tosh invited because "these things are always so depressing." Tim's father starts off the family portion of the intervention by reading his own letter; it begins with "we're here because we wanted a free trip to L.A." The interventionist quickly determines that Tim hasn't yet hit rock bottom and rescinds the offer of rehab until he does. Tosh and Tim are shown next attending a drug party, where they re-enact many of the crazy things Tim said and did in his notorious YouTube video, and a black screen with white text reveals that two minutes have passed since they began their drug party. As Tosh decides that Tim has now hit rock bottom (since they find the dead body of the clown from the intervention beside their hotel bed), they head off together to the rehab center. But when "Amy Winehouse" answers the door at the "rehab center", the pair realize they must have overdosed (a subtle satire on one of Ken Seeley's assertions during Pre-Intervention talks, when he stresses that some addicts don't hit rock bottom until they're dead). As they enter Heaven, the screen fades to white, where black text (instead of the usual fade-to-black with white text summarizing the addict's time in treatment) says simply that "Six months later, they are still happily dead."
On his 2013 song, "The Monster", featuring singer Rihanna, from The Marshall Mathers LP 2, Eminem raps, "I think you've been wandering off down yonder, and stumbled onto Jeff VanVonderen/Cause I need an interventionist, to intervene between me and this monster." VanVonderen was one of the show's main interventionists.
- Hibberd, James (May 24, 2013). "'Intervention' cancelled". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved May 24, 2013.
- Bibel, Sara (August 5, 2014). "Lifetime Move Network Greenlights New Season of 'Intervention'". TV by the Numbers (Press release). Retrieved August 5, 2014.
- "A&E's Emmy-Award winning and critically-acclaimed docuseries, 'Intervention', returns to the network...". A&E (Press release). January 13, 2015. Retrieved January 17, 2015.
- Intervention Directory: post-intervention deaths [retrieved 12 January 2017].
- "Breaking News - A&E Network's Emmy Award-Winning Series "Intervention" Returns for a Tenth Season". TheFutonCritic.com. 2010-12-01. Retrieved 2013-05-23.
- Chad Gerlach: Former Pro Cyclist, Lance Armstrong Teammate, Subject Of Pending A&E Network Program, Intervention, retrieved June 17, 2008.
- Gilbert, Matthew (2005-03-05). "Vile 'Intervention' pulls a fast one". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2007-06-01.
- Patten, Dominic. "Staff Writer". Lifetime Orders Teen Trouble. Deadline. Retrieved 25 December 2012.
- "Intervention with Kristin Chenoweth". Released August 27, 2008; accessed September 1, 2012.
- Fred Armisen's "Intervention Intervention". Released April 2011; accessed September 1, 2012.
- "For Mature Audiences Only: Web Intervention, Guy on Shrooms"; released October 18, 2011; accessed September 1, 2012.]