Prime-Time Television And Its Misrepresentation Of Head Lice Treatment-A Critique Of ‘Trophy Wife’

Prime-Time Television And Its Misrepresentation Of Head Lice Treatment: A Critique Of ‘Trophy Wife’

‘Trophy Wife’ is a television show about a man, Pete, who has three children (Hillary, Warren, and Bert). Pete has just married a young woman named Kate. The story centers around Pete and Kate’s relationship with Pete’s two ex-wives, flighty Jackie and doctor Diane (their relationship is friendly, but the ex-wives are far too involved in Pete and Kate’s relationship for reality). In this particular episode, Kate finds out that Bert has lice and the family congregates to treat their head lice infestation.

To begin, Kate gets a phone call asking her to come to the school because Bert has lice. Kate and Bert meet with the school nurse on his first day on the job. Kate asks for literature on head lice and when the nurse reads the pamphlet, he cringes and makes faces. He even says, “this is bad” to the mother. He announces the school’s head lice policy, “until you rid yourself of lice, nits, and bugs, the infected persons are not allowed back on school property”. Kate itches the back of her head while he is talking and they argue about whether she has it. The nurse insists that Kate has lice (because she scratched her head) and Kate does not want to admit that she has lice. The scene jumps to Kate in the car with Bert; they are both wearing sunglasses and Kate is calling Pete. She says covertly, “Bert got lice, we’ve all got lice,” and Pete responds, “Round up the others.”

Problems so far:

1. The school nurse should never make that kind of face when dealing with a worried mother or step-mother. Causing her to freak out is unfair and makes head lice seem so much worse than it is.

2. This school nurse diagnosed Kate without looking at her head at all! Itching is not a definite symptom of head lice. Only 50% of people with head lice actually experience the itching sensation; those that do experience the itching usually do not start itching until they have been infested for 10-14 days! With the quick reproduction rate of a louse, 2 weeks can mean 200+ eggs!

Back to the story- Kate is now at the pharmacy, where she walks up to the counter and asks loudly for condoms, cigars, stool softener, but whispers gently, “and I couldn’t find your lice shampoo”. The pharmacist calls out to another employee asking where the lice shampoo is, to which Kate tells everyone around her that she is “just constipated” so no one knows about her head lice problem. Kate and the kids arrive home where Pete and Diane are waiting. Diane walks in the room and says, “Nobody move, nobody touch, nobody site. Everybody listen to me and we’ll get through this. Now strip”.

Next, Diane is shown washing hair in the sink and charges Kate and Pete to ‘eradicate’ and ‘contain’ the infestation. When Kate’s feelings are hurt as she is brushed aside by the stepmother, Diane, the doctor, tells Kate that all the literature she was using to treat the children (which came from the school nurse) was actually written by Diane and she gets to execute treatment. Pete is stripping Warrens bed when he finds a white teddy bear shoved between the mattress and headboard (This stuffed animal was passed from Warren to Bert before and this proved that Warren had stolen him back). It is at this moment that Jackie (ex-wife #2) shows up outside the kitchen window and refuses to come inside because she just had a ‘Brazilian Blow-Out’ and can’t get her hair wet for 3 days. Diane uses a hose and brute force to get Jackie inside so as not to ‘re-contaminate’ the rest of the family.

Problems, Continued:

1. There is no need to be ashamed when looking for a lice shampoo or treatment, but the chemicals that are in those shampoos are so dangerous to the human scalp that it is NOT WORTH it to treat using them! All natural products and a nit comb, or a lice removal specialist site is the only way to effectively and SAFELY treat head lice infestations.

2. Diane is a doctor, yes, but that does not mean she is right in her treatment. She is using what looks like a flea comb on each child, they show no removal and I can guarantee that whole family still has lice following treatments. All nits and live bugs must be removed which cannot be done with a shampoo.

3. Pete is stripping beds to wash and eradicate the infestation, but holds to the stuffed animal from the head-board?? You do not need to ‘treat’ stuffed animals but to give it back to his two sons? It is shown coated in lice and will recontaminate the family.

Back again to the story- Kate and Jackie are shown shampooed in the bathtub talking and Jackie is using a pair of tweezers to remove the nits in Kate’s hair. The two concoct a plan to get back at Diane, ‘Herr commander lice’, and replace the rest of the lice shampoo with a regular shampoo in the bathroom. This would keep Diane infested and make her ask them for help. Diane treats Hillary and the dog instead of herself and the two, Kate and Diane, race to Hillary’s play practice before she has a chance to infest others. They walk into play practice, which happens to be a production of “Hair” the musical and while they are standing in shock at how late they are to stop the problem, all the children swap wigs. The moms run out of the auditorium and decide to treat Hillary at home and blame another cast member for spreading lice. In the end, Beary White is not treated and it is implied that he reinfests the family.

Final Problems:

1. Jackie is half-assedly nit-picking with tweezers while neither of the women are actually paying attention to removing the nits or looking for live bugs.

2. The doctor treats the dog. Dogs cannot get the head lice that we humans get. After being a pushy ‘know-it-all’ about head lice, you think she’d at least know that.

3. The musical scene they showed was a head lice nightmare. One kid has it and they all would have it by the end of practice…

4. Finally, deciding to blame the infestation on someone else is another mom’s worst nightmare. One of the most effective ways of controlling a lice infestation is to tell everyone you came in contact with so that EVERYONE who you know that may be carrying it can get treated. If not, you will get head lice again and after having it once, you are biologically more susceptible to getting it again. Own up to a very natural part of the American Life and warn your neighbors. It will only help you in the end.

All in all, ‘Trophy Wife’ is a funny show, and as stated earlier, we all know television is not a likely reality. We take everything on the screen with a grain of salt, but with all the people who work to get rid of head lice a year (that would be 12 million people!) it would be awesome to see a funny episode where anyone knew what to actually do to get rid of them! Maybe the episodes could be about teaching the kid how to prevent head lice in the classroom or how to tell your friends when you’ve had it. Baby steps…

You can watch this episode on or if you posses a Hulu+ account

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Published in: EzineArticles

Publish Date: April 17, 2014

By: Cac Stiner, The Lice Queen

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