Netflix announced this week that it’s cutting smoking in some of its shows.
One of the shows that has taken a lot of heat for portaying a hell of a lot of smoking is Netflix’s “Stranger Things.” The sheriff in that show is constantly smoking and Stranger Things has been specifically targeted by anti-tobacco advocates.
Personally, I’ve sure noticed that Netflix’s Bojack Horseman has a lot of smoking, but then again, it’s a show about an alcoholic, self-destructive, pill-popping, clinically depressed horse, so smoking kind of fits right in with his character. Bojack even smokes as a child after seeing Secretariat smoke on TV. His abusive mother catches him and forces him to smoke the entire cigarette just to show him that she hates him.
Bojack recalls this terrible memory of his mother’s cruelty as he’s smoking a cigarette … which he clearly isn’t enjoying.
There’s a scene in another show where Bojack is blowing smoke right in a little girl’s face and making her cough, but he’s such a narcissist he doesn’t even notice. The scene takes place from the 1990s, when some people were still buttheads about smoking around kids.
Another interesting sidenote about Bojack Horseman. His mother smoked constantly in the show and in the end, she dies of Alzheimer’s. I wonder if the people in the show even know that studies show a connection between smoking and Alzheimer’s and if they gave that some thought.
Interesting , the rise of smoking on TV is happening while depictions of smoking is on the downswing in movies. Disney (which is also Marvel and Star Wars) has a specific policy that no smoking is allowed in its movies. (There is one really brief cigarette scene in the extreme hard R-rated “Deadpool 2”. Deadpool literally uses a cigarette to kill himself. In the commentary on that movie, Ryan Reynolds said it just made more sense that since Deadpool is killing himself, he should be smoking a cigarette, not a joint.
Other shows mentioned in this article are “Orange is the New Black,” and the “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.”
The Truth Initiative, which monitors tobacco depictions in the media, has noticed the increase in smoking onscreen in its “While You Were Streaming” report.