This viewer's guide is is intended to be downloaded and printed. The guide is designed to help you use Affluenza to stimulate discussion and encourage people to take the first steps to reduce their consumption and live more satisfying lives. It provides suggestions for planning a viewing party and engaging in a group discussion. In addition you'll find tips for becoming a more conscious consumer, a list of resources and information about how to order your own copy of Affluenza.

A one-hour PBS special about the modern-day plague of materialism and overconsumption some call "Affluenza." The program explores how Affluenza is straining our personal lives and families, eroding our communities, and destroying the environment. Affluenza shows how a growing number of Americans from across the economic and political spectrum are choosing to become more conscious consumers and redefine the American Dream.

Please reproduce this viewer's guide and tell others they can download and print it from the Affluenza Web site (!

Affluenza is a production of KCTS/Seattle and Oregon Public Broadcasting and is made possible by a grant from The Pew Charitable Trusts. Funding for this viewer's guide was made possible by a donation in the memory of Joe Dominguez.

Coming in 1998 on PBS from the Affluenza production team: Living Better on Less

KCTS Television
401 Mercer Street, Seattle, WA 98109
tel 206/728-6463, fax 206/443-6691


Holding a viewing party in your home or other location is one of the most effective and fun ways to see Affluenza. Invite friends, neighbors, co-workers--anyone you would like to see the program. Or watch it and talk about it with your family. Have copies of this viewer's guide available. Tip: If the broadcast time isn't convenient for a viewing party, tape it for later use or order a copy of the program from Bullfrog Films at 1-800-543-FROG, by e-mail at, and on the Web at

Affluenza deals with personal issues (money, debt, relationships) and deeply ingrained habits that may be difficult for people to talk about. Encourage everyone to speak and respect each other's feelings and ideas.

After viewing, ask the group:

What parts of the program really struck a chord with you? Why?

What do you most value in your life? How does Affluenza affect that part of your life?

Before concluding, ask:

What are some obstacles that come to mind when you think about reducing your consumption and spending?

What would be one step you would feel comfortable taking in the coming weeks to begin changing your current consumption or spending habits?

Ask the group if they would like to get together again to continue the discussion, or even to start a study group to offer each other support and encouragement.

Suggested questions to stimulate discussion on these "symptoms" of Affluenza.

Shopping Fever
Fact: On average, Americans shop six hours a week and spend only 40 minutes playing with their children.

What is the lure of shopping and material possessions?
What kinds of pressures do you feel to "keep up with the Joneses"?

Chronic Stress
"We hear the same refrain all the time from people. I have no life....I get home at night, there's laundry, bills to pay....I'm exhausted, I go to sleep, I wake up and the routine begins the next day all over again." - Gerald Celente, Trends Research Institute

How has this "work-spend" treadmill affected your life and those of your loved ones?

Fact: By the age of 20, the average American has seen a million commercials. In addition, advertising accounts for 2/3 of the space in our newspapers and 40 percent of our mail.

How does advertising affect your life and buying habits? What advertisements especially affect you? Why?

Material Girls and Boys "Anti-social behavior in pursuit of a product is a good thing." - Marketing Consultant

How does it make you feel that corporations are targeting so much advertising at kids? What messages do you think they are getting from ads? Should schools (hallways as well as curriculum materials) be ad-free zones? Why or why not?

How can we help kids resist the seductive pressure of advertising?

A Rash of Bankruptcies
Fact: In 1997, more than 1.1 million Americans declared personal bankruptcy, more than graduated from college.

How have credit cards made it possible for us to spend beyond our means? Imagine if you didn't have credit cards. How would that alter your spending habits?

Fractured Families
Fact: In 90 percent of divorce cases, arguments about money play a prominent role.

How do materialism and other money issues create conflict in your family? How can family members work together to overcome this and build stronger bonds?

Social Scars
Fact: The gap between the rich and poor in the U.S. is the widest in any industrial country.

How does Affluenza contribute to this gap?
What are some of the ways the gap between rich and poor affects us individually and as a society?

Resource Exhaustion
Fact: Since 1950, Americans have used more resources than everyone who ever lived before them.

Developing countries would like to consume as much as Americans do. How can we present a different role model to the world to help secure a sustainable future for the generations to come? How can we encourage corporations to produce more environmentally-sound products?

Prevention and Cure
Fact: Studies suggest the Earth could sustain a standard of living nearly as comfortable as our own for every human being. But that would demand social as well as personal change.

Could you live a contented life with fewer material possessions? What would make this possible?
What personal and social changes would you be willing to consider making or helping to make?

How can we encourage corporations to be more responsible to global needs rather than profits?

Before You Buy...

Do I really need it? Can I afford it?

Could I borrow one from a friend or neighbor?

Do I have one already that could be fixed up or repaired?

How long will it probably last? Am I prepared to maintain it?

What are ALL the costs over its lifetime?

How many hours or months will I have to work to pay for it? Is it worth it?

Are the resources that go into it renewable? Is it recyclable?

Give yourself a 48-hour "cooling off" period to think about it before you buy (30 days for a major purchase).

By writing us at: KCTS-TV, Attn: Affluenza Producers, 401 Mercer Street, Seattle, WA 98109. Send e-mail to:

To Order Video Copies
We encourage you to use Affluenza after the broadcast. By purchasing a video of the program, you will ensure you have the proper rights to use it in the settings you wish, as well as the best-quality copy. Your purchase will also help fund follow-up programs now in the works. Videocassettes may be ordered for educational, grassroots and home use from Bullfrog Films at 1-800-543-FROG(3764) or by e-mail at

Please see the Affluenza Web site for a more complete list.

Beyond the Limits. Donella Meadows, Dennis Meadows and Jorgen Randers. Vermont. Chelsea Green Publishing, 1992. Scientists explain how our present high-consumption lifestyle will lead to a global ecological collapse, unless we create a permanently sustainable economy.

Circle of Simplicity. Cecile Andrews. New York. HarperCollins, 1997. A leader of the voluntary simplicity movement shows how study circles can help citizens simplify their lives and find community.

How Much is Enough?. Alan Durning. New York. Norton, 1992. A well-researched look at how much we consume and why it isn't making us happier.

Margin. Richard Swenson. Colorado Springs, Colorado. Navpress, 1992. A Christian family doctor discovers that much of his patients' pain is a result of the pressures of modern society and "possession overload."

Marketing Madness. Michael Jacobson and Laurie Mazur. Boulder, Colorado. Westview Press, 1995. Shows how advertising and other marketing strategies are invading every aspect of American life

Simple Living. Frank Levering and Wanda Urbanska. New York. Penguin, 1992. The story of one couple's search for a simpler, less acquisitive way of life. Honest writing about the pitfalls and pleasures of leaving life's fast lane.

Your Money or Your Life. Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin. New York. Penguin Books, 1992. Runaway bestseller that has changed thousands of lives for the better. Now in print in several languages, it gives a step-by-step program for reducing spending and living more fully.

Adbusters. The Media Foundation, 1243 West 7th Avenue, Vancouver, B.C V6H 1B7 Canada. 604-736-9401. E-mail: This slick quarterly magazine is loaded with critiques of advertising and hilarious "subvertisements" that poke serious fun at materialism.

Green Cross, 10 East Lancaster Avenue, Wynnewood, PA 19096. 1-800-650-6600. Christian environmental quarterly.

Living Cheap News, 7232 Bellevue, Kansas City, MO 64114*816-523-3161 Essays, reviews of products and books, and tips.

Simple Living, Simple Living Press, 2319 N. 45th Street, Box 149, Seattle, WA 98103. 206-464-4800. Quarterly publication geared for those who want to know more about how to simplify.

YES! The Journal of Positive Futures, Positive Futures Network, P.O. Box 10818, Bainbridge Island, WA 98110. 206-842-0216. E-mail: ( Quarterly journal supports the evolution of sustainable cultures and communities.

Center for a New American Dream (www., 156 College Street, 2nd Floor, Burlington, VT 05401. 802-862-6762. E-mail: A new non-profit group created to promote national efforts to turn away from consumerism. Offers a "Simple Living & Earth-Saving Action Kit" ($10, includes postage). Web site has excellent list of resources, organizations and links.

Consumer Credit Counseling Service. Offices in most major cities (check your phone book or search the Web). San Diego office has developed an excellent school curriculum on wise use of money.

Earth Ministry, 1305 NE 47th, Seattle, WA 98105, 206-632-2426. Has an excellent spiritually-based study guide, Simplicity as Compassion, for use with religious groups.

New Road Map Foundation, P.O. Box 15981, Seattle, WA 98115. 206-527-0437. Founded by Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez. Expands on the work of the book, Your Money Or Your Life. Has study guides for groups to use with book. Write for information.

Northwest Earth Institute, 921 S.W. Morrison Street, Portland, OR 97205. 503-227-2807. Has excellent Voluntary Simplicity guide for study groups in workplaces.

Youth for Environmental Sanity (YES), 706 Frederick St., Santa Cruz, CA 95062. 408-459-9344. e-mail: Web: Featured in Affluenza, group of young activists which helps educate other youth about Earth-friendly life choices.

There are many Web sites, listservs, e-mail newsletters and user groups on the Internet devoted to simple and sustainable living. Visit the Affluenza Web site for direct links to many of these sites at PBS Online:

Tips | Teacher's Guide | Viewer's Guide
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The Show | Diagnosis | Treatment | Site Map