you can do that on television?
March 8, 2021

If there was anything more shocking for Britons than Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's bombshell Oprah Winfrey interview, it might have been learning what American television is actually like.

Harry and Meghan sat down with Winfrey for an interview that aired on Sunday in primetime, drawing worldwide attention. And on Monday, Ayesha A. Siddiqi compiled a Twitter thread of British people's shocked reactions — not to what was actually said, but to the experience of watching pharmaceutical ads that ran during the special.

"Totally forgot about MEDICINE being advertised out there," one gobsmacked user wrote, while another simply asked, "How are the side effects of the medicine in American ads more lethal than the thing they're treating?" Others described these ads, which American viewers may not have given a second thought to after growing accustomed to them for years, as "surreal," "post-apocalyptic," and "unhinged."

The surprise was understandable, as Thrillist notes that "the United States is the only country, besides New Zealand, that legally permits 'direct-to-consumer' pharmaceutical advertising." And Tom Gara observed that the onslaught of pharmaceutical ads consisting essentially of "speed readings of lengthy lists of side effects" is "easily the craziest thing about American TV when you move here from abroad." Next time, perhaps these viewers should ask their doctor if watching American television is right for them. Brendan Morrow

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