Viewers divided on pharmacy show

A new comedy TV series set in a pharmacy has scored mostly positive reviews – although some viewers believe it depicts pharmacy personnel as unprofessional and incompetent

Would you watch a comedy TV show that followed a group of pharmacists, techs, interns, and what they get up to everyday in a small community pharmacy? (So, basically, a show based on your life.)

The US series Vials released its pilot episode called “Xanax” in November 2017, and the team has confirmed on social media that due to its resounding success the series is set to go forward, with more episodes to come.

Currently not available to view in Australia (unless you happen to hold a US-based credit card), the show is offered by Amazon on its Prime service.

The pilot episode introduces the characters with the pharmacy tech narrator making cracks about low pay in the pharmacy industry, difficult customers, and the robberies and danger pharmacists have to face every day “without any special hazard pay”.

Scenarios focus on obnoxious customers complaining about everything, from not wanting to provide personal information (name and DOB), to having to wait for scripts, being given the generic versions of medicines, scripts not coming in… the list goes on.

A lot of viewers have expressed how accurate the show is.

“Literally all of the things that happened in this video are going to happen to me at work over the next ten hours. FML,” said one viewer.

“Does anyone else feel like they should be being paid royalties on this show because this is literally your everyday life?” said another.

However while most viewers enjoyed the pilot episode  – with the show receiving more than 500 5-star reviews on Amazon – some had serious misgivings about its content and direction.

Concerns have been raised about the characters, which include a managing pharmacist who eats Xanax like candy to deal with an anxiety disorder, and another pharmacist who is actually dispensing medicines while unlicensed.

“The patient interactions are fairly spot-on, but I was very concerned at the amount of phone calls I will be answering asking if my pharmacist actually has their license or not,” said a viewer.

“The first show on pharmacy and you’re displaying pharmacists as potential morons? What a great, first impression for the public who sort of has no idea what pharmacists actually do for their patients on a daily basis,” said another.

Creator, writer and producer Michael Carl Jude says he was inspired by his stint as a pharmacist technician for about a decade while at university.

In a December interview, Mr Jude told Pharmacy Times that besides his own personal experience to draw on for inspiration, he consulted with a number of pharmacist friends and had a pharmacist onsite during production.

“Every single thing I came up with was always mentioned to a consultant who said, ‘Yes, that happens all the time’,” he said.

Recalling his experience working in pharmacy, Mr Jude said he used to love dealing with the public.

“Even when they were in the foulest of moods it was a great job, because it always felt good to help them. That’s the point of the show. Yes, it is satire and exaggerated but that is why we bring it all back to reality at some points.

“Like at the end of the first episode we mention that people complain about the wait times, but when you are in pain even 15 minutes can feel like an eternity.

“The show, if you really pay attention, is about the importance of the pharmacist in the community, and that will come out more and more once the full season in released this spring [in the US].”

Here we take a look at what people have said about the show from its Amazon page.

The good

“This sounds like it came out of my mind! Love it and it truly nails it. All the wrong with the world and all the right with how it is portrayed.”

“I found it hilarious, and pretty on-point with patient scenarios. Even my husband laughed, and he doesn’t work in a pharmacy.”

“Definitely enjoying the show so far. I’ve worked in pharmacy for years and I don’t take anything in this series personally. I think it’s a hilarious portrayal of some potential issues faced in an everyday pharmacy.”

“This is wonderful!! I have been a pharm tech for 39 years and finally someone has figured out what my job is like!!”

“I have been a pharmacy tech for over twenty years and have always thought a show about our life would be great. Need any new customer scenarios, I got em! Hope the show continues.”

“I’ve worked both hospital and retail and this show is as true and real as it gets. You have no idea the nonsense we deal with as technicians and pharmacists. This is the best and I love it!”

“I think I like it overall, just hope that it gets better (I’m sure it will; it’s a brand new show, after all). This is definitely a show from someone who has pharmacy background; even the pilot reflects on the most amusing and annoying customers! Lol”

“Ten year Pharmacy tech here. Loved it and crave more! The patient interactions are fairly spot-on, but I was very concerned at the amount of phone calls I will be answering asking if my pharmacist actually has their license or not. Of course they do, or the huge retail chain I work for would have them out on their butts!”

The bad

“For a show I thought would be shedding light on what its like to be on the other side of the counter, this show’s pilot did a poor job. This show seems to do the exact opposite by depicting the pharmacy personnel as unprofessional and incompetent. The pharmacy manager is depicted as a prescription drug addict, intern that is “on the spectrum”, female pharmacist that is okay with practicing illegally yet not bright enough to pass her boards and an incredibly rude, smartass technician.”

“The first show on pharmacy and you’re displaying pharmacists as potential morons? What a great, first impression for the public who sort of has no idea what pharmacists actually do for their patients on a daily basis. A verifying pharmacist without a LICENSE? who failed her board continuously for THREE YEARS, and is behind the counter dispensing medication as if it’s completely normal for that to happen?”

“I think this episode provides a negative representation of the pharmacy profession and insults the impact we have on patient care. Creating a joke about a licensed pharmacist continuously popping Xanax pills insinuates that type of behavior is acceptable and is the ‘norm’.”

“As a pharmacist for 35 years I have longed for a pharmacy comedy. Real life in pharmacy has tons of humor. This take is not even close to what happens. Really wanted to like this but it is poorly researched and too vulgar. In real life I witnessed a hyper child eat the contents of a chapstick, had a high school student ask what the best condom would be to cover a microphone, was mooned because I refused to look at a woman’s haemorrhoids, had a male take birth control, had someone insert suppositories without taking off foil wrap and countless other innocent but funny chuckles. This show was demeaning and unfunny.”

Watch the trailer here. Let us know your thoughts and if you would be interested in watching this series in the comments section below.

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  1. Ian Carr

    If “Vials” reflected the reality of working in pharmacy, it would be a snorefest to rival SBS’s 17 hours of live Ghan rail journey. I do vaguely remember two Monty Python sketches with a pharmacy setting. In the first one, John Cleese as the pharmacist emerges from the dispensary to question his assembled clients at the top of his voice: “Alright — who’s got the boil on the bum?” … and worse.
    Then there was the classic “Swedish pharmacist” sketch:
    Male Customer:: I want a deodorant.
    Pharmacist: Ball or Aerosol? *
    Customer: No, I want it for under my arms.

    * To be spoken in a strong Swedish accent.

    • Andrew

      Love that joke….in my day the pharmacist was Dutch

  2. Jarrod McMaugh

    Every cop show ever
    Nurse Jacky
    the I.T. Crowd
    Mad Men
    Even Sons of Anarchy!!!

    None of these show the reality… .they show a romanticised or comedic parody of the subject matter.

    Vials is no different.

    My only regret is that I can’t get it yet…

    • Andrew

      Yaaaaaar…you need to take to the high seas, Jarrod. I can see Uncle Torrence’s site has links – I will take a hit for the team and watch it tonite and report back.

    • Michael Rosenberger

      Find us on FB and DM me. I will get it to you.

  3. Michael Rosenberger

    If anyone would like to see the show feel free to message us on our Facebook page and we will send you a private link. Thank you for covering it.

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