Compressed Abstinence

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People aren't perfect. It's an understandable fact. When a character recognizes this, they might try to improve or eliminate a stock vice (alcohol, masturbation, swearing, eating sweets), which in any other episode would be portrayed as completely normal. But for this episode, the problem must be completely eradicated. Beyond clean living, this is a sterilization of a minor imperfection.

Of course, Cold Turkeys Are Everywhere, Status Quo Is God, and perfect characters are unrelatable to the audience. So, one end of episode Snap Back later, they're back at square one. And the simple problem is never exaggerated this much again.

This is common in episodes revolving around New Year's Resolutions, dieting, abstinence, re-finding religion, etc. Expect a family character to force others to participate alongside them.

Compare Compressed Vice, where a new fault is expanded and eliminated. Consider also Flowers for Algernon Syndrome and Mr. Vice Guy.

Examples of Compressed Abstinence include:

Comics[edit | hide | hide all]

  • Shelton and Mavrides' The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers (the Frisco hippies with attitude) once try going cold turkey from all recreational chemicals. After three miserable, horrible, tedious, dragging, hours, they give up and are seen snorting and ingesting every drug to hand as if their lives depended on it.

Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • In one episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Phil attempts to lose weight, and he and Vivian force the entire family to be more health conscious as well.
  • In the Seinfeld episode "The Contest", the characters try to "be the master of their domain" by spending the longest without... mastering their domain. It doesn't last long. It was called back to, however, even in the series finale.
  • The Friends episode "The One With All The Resolutions", where among other things, Chandler tries and fails to give up sarcasm.
  • Modern Family: The Dunphys have a contest to see who can go the longest without using a computer. Haley wins by making a fake cell phone out of soap to trick the others into thinking she caved in first.
  • All in The Family: Archie and Mike have a bet over who can last longer (of a 48 hour limit): Archie without a cigar or Mike without eating. (Mike's a Big Eater.) They start taunting each other: Mike starts smoking in front of Archie and Archie eats in front of Mike. They decide to call it a draw, with Archie lighting up & Mike eating on the count of three; but Archie pulls the lighter away from his cigar just as Mike starts eating, therefore he wins the bet.
  • In an episode of Drake and Josh, the titular characters made a bet that they could each quit junk food or videogames respectively longer than the other.
  • In M*A*S*H, Hawkeye once took a bet from BJ that he could go a whole 24 hours without making a joke. He barely made it.
  • In Father Ted for Lent Ted decides to give up cigarettes, Dougal rollerblading, and on Jack's behalf, Ted makes a vow that Jack will give up drinking. After they can't go one day without succumbing they call in a specialist, who turns out to be quite insane, and eventually they do a turnaround and indulge these things to a greater degree than they did before.
  • One episode of Corner Gas followed the characters for a year as they tried to follow their New Years resolutions. Only Lacy managed it.

Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • The Simpsons prohibition episode, brought on by one exceptionally rowdy St. Patrick's Day. This is enforced, as the 200 year old prohibition law is revealed early in the episode, and the 199 year old anti-prohibition law is revealed near the end.

Narrator: And so, one town's brief flirtation with prohibition ended in a joyous remarriage to Lady Liquor. Congratulations, Springfield! We wish you the very best!

  • SpongeBob SquarePants: One episode centers on Spongebob (and Patrick) rejecting all their normal activities and acting as adults (which boils down to becoming "Stop Having Fun!" Guys). Patrick snaps first, basically declaring that Growing Up Sucks.
  • In Family Guy, when Peter almost dies (Death pays him a visit) while driving when drunk, he promises to stop drinking beer. Death shows him the tea totaler Peter is very intelligent and wealthy but pretentious, so Peter decides to drink in moderation in a Status Quo Is God decision.

Mayor Quimby: How long will it take you to flood this town with alcohol again?
Fat Tony: Four minutes.