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It’s 3 p.m., let’s watch Drew Barrymore learn to “Just Say No” with McGruff The Crime Dog

It’s 3 p.m.! Let The A.V. Club briefly make use of the waning hours of your productivity with some pop culture ephemera pulled from the depths of YouTube.

Since the early ‘80s, McGruff The Crime Dog has been teaching kids about proper gun safety, the best ways to avoid kidnapping, and the dangers of using drugs. Because, really, who better to teach kids these important lessons than a six-foot talking bloodhound in a trench coat? And, in 1989, there was no one better suited to help the sentient dog-man deliver his message of drug abstinence than 13-year-old Drew Barrymore, fresh off of her second stint in rehab.


In the clip, which is part of a longer, more-psychedelic program called “The No Show,” Barrymore plays a damsel in distress-type who tells McGruff, “It’s hard being different. I just said no to drugs.” McGruff proceeds to tell her, with a little help from his trippy talking self portrait, that saying “no” to drugs is not only the right thing to do but it’s what all the cool kids are doing! According to a People Magazine profile written at the time, Barrymore at 13 was already a regular cocaine abuser and had just completed a couple involuntary stays at a rehab facility. It’s a testament to her young acting chops that you can’t see her eyes roll in this PSA.

Eventually, five kids show up with some extremely cool dance moves to help convince Barrymore that she’s not alone in her choice to say no. Eagle-eyed viewers will recognized a 6-year-old Gaby Hoffmann in that anti-drug crew, who is likely on break from the set of Uncle Buck.


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Dan Neilan

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Have Fun — Will Travel.