Did you miss the kickoff episode to season four of the National Geographic Channel's "Drugs, Inc?" If you didn't catch the August 12th premiere, you missed out on the subtle and sympathetically titled "San Francisco Meth Zombies" episode, which profiles the San Francisco meth trade from manufacturers all the way down to users. Along the way, it interviews a variety of players on the San Francisco meth scene, from a member of the Asian drug cartel to a dealer to a gay prostitute and meth user who swaps sex for drugs.
The show paints the gay community with a wide brush, using familiar "den of iniquity" overtones to talk about meth use (forbidding music over a billowing rainbow flag, anyone?).
"The summer of love has become the winter of addiction," intones the narrator. "And in the heart of the city, the gay community is struggling to overcome a meth epidemic. An entire subculture known as 'party and play' is based around methamphetamine use."
Elsewhere, the Asian cartel that's been "poisoning San Francisco with meth for almost 25 years" runs two superlabs within the city and supplies the Tenderloin, SOMA, the Sunset and the Richmond. "Like ninjas of the American underworld, the Asian cartel prefers to remind hidden in the shadows." But like a familiar Breaking Bad plot twist, the cartel's recipe has landed in the hands of the Mexican cartel that's now threatening their supply.
The episode also takes viewers on a depressing tour of the Tenderloin, which it calls "one of the worst drug ghettos in the whole of America," and profiles the law enforcement efforts directed at the issue. (Sample quote: "the cops suspect the dealer is using his transgender roommate's apartment as a stash house".)
Watch the full episode below if you'd like to know what National Geographic Channel viewers now think of San Francisco, or if you'd like a look at a sensationalized but still interesting (and troubling) view of the drug underworld.