Scott Hollifield: Seeking medical guidance from old TV shows can be a prescription for disaster


Some anti-vaxxers – those misguided people who believe vaccines do more harm than good despite overwhelming scientific evidence to the contrary – are using “The Brady Bunch” to make their case.

In an episode from the 1969 TV show, the Brady kids come down with the measles, skip school and hilarity ensues.

“If you have to get sick, you sure can’t beat the measles,” says Marcia Brady, played by actress Maureen McCormick, in a clip circulated by anti-vaxxers.

Nearly fifty years after that episode first aired, the United States has the highest number of measles cases since the disease was declared eliminated in 2000.

McCormick told NPR she isn’t happy that Marcia has become an unwitting spokesperson for the pro-measles, anti-vaccination crowd.

“I think it's really wrong when people use people's images today to promote whatever they want to promote and the person's image they're using they haven't asked or they have no idea where they stand on the issue," she said in a Weekend Edition article by Gwynne Hogan. “As a mother, my daughter was vaccinated.”

Good for you, Marcia, Marcia, Marcia. Mike and Carol would be proud of their oldest girl, although this unexpected attention probably has Jan seething with jealousy.

The “Brady” dust up, in addition to leaving me shaking my head at the overall stupidity of the situation, made me wonder this: How many people actually seek medical guidance from old television shows?

As the senior interim medical correspondent/TV historian for this award-winning publication, I will explore this strange phenomenon in a Q&A format.

Q. Hi, Scott. I just watched a particularly eye-opening episode of “The Beverly Hillbillies” and I was amazed at the healing properties of Granny’s “rheumatiz medicine.” I am thinking about using it to supplement the CDB oil I rub on my dog’s snout to alleviate his anxiety. But, as always, it appears Big Pharma has successfully suppressed the widespread availability of Granny’s rheumatiz medicine. Do you know a website where I could order some, preferably the variety manufactured in Bugtussle, which several people in my chatroom recommend?

A. “The Beverly Hillbillies” was a fictional show, Granny was a character played by actress Irene Ryan and the writers likely meant the “rheumatiz medicine” to be the corn liquor she made. Again, it’s a TV show.

Q. Understood. While I was looking on the internet for rheumatiz medicine, I forgot to give my dog his dose of CBD oil and in his anxious state, he knocked over a hat rack, which struck my grandfather’s antique musket on the wall. The weapon dropped to the floor and fired a round into my cousin Eugene’s upper thigh. Rather than summon paramedics, I recalled an episode of “Gunsmoke” where a wounded outlaw took a slug of whiskey and bit down on a stick while his partner dug out the bullet with a Bowie knife. Was that the right course of action in this case?

A. Absolutely not. Again, “Gunsmoke” was a fictional TV show.

Q. Ah, yes. I’m beginning to see a pattern here. Unfortunately for Eugene, the whiskey-and-stick treatment failed to adequately address his pain and he bolted from the couch in agony, tripped and struck his head on a nearby coffee table. Fearing he had suffered amnesia, as many people on TV do when they strike their heads, I cracked him another good one on the skull with a coconut I bought for just such an emergency, knowing he would regain his memory as an episode of “Gilligan’s Island” taught me. Eugene has yet to regain consciousness. Do you know where I can purchase a “Star Trek” tricorder to assess his condition as Dr. McCoy would in a situation like this?

A. No. Both “Gilligan’s Island” and “Star Trek” were fictional shows. Eugene has likely suffered severe head trauma as a result of your actions.

Q. I’m sure all he needs is a good case of the measles and he’ll be fine. You want to watch a few episodes of “The Brady Bunch?” while he recovers?

A. Maybe after a swig or two of rheumatiz medicine.

Scott Hollifield is editor/GM of The McDowell News in Marion, NC and a humor columnist. Contact him at .

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