If you’ve ever sat in front of your television watching Celebrity Rehab and wondered, “Hey, how many deaths of its cast members do you think it will take before they take this show off the air?”, well then I have an answer for you — FIVE! Only five: Mindy McCready, Jeff Conaway, Rodney King, Mike Starr and Joey Kovar. Thankfully we didn’t leave the show on for too long and discredit any of these peoples’ memories. That’s a relief.
But listen, I want to make clear that I’m as guilty as the rest of you — I will watch the shit out of that show, when it’s on. It’s enjoyable in a creepy, voyeuristic way, and it’s almost addictive in its intensity. After all, you’re watching celebrities at their lowest points, commonly literally shaking from withdrawal symptoms, snapping at their fellow patients, and sometimes even relapsing on camera. I don’t think there’s a more apt example of schadenfreude than getting to watch a celebrity at his or her lowest point. Especially when you’re remember that you’re also watching a self-selecting class of celebrities who are willing to let you see them at their lowest point, and for that moment to be nationally televised. So that’s the kind of people we’re working with, and probably why Dr. Drew Pinsky has finally decided to take the show off the air:
“I don’t have any plans to do it anymore. I am tired of taking all the heat, it is just ridiculous. I’m tired. It’s very stressful and very intense for me. And to have people questioning my motives and taking aim at me because people get sick and die, because they have a life-threatening disease, then I have to take blame for that? Rodney King has a heart attack and I have to take blame for that? That’s really what is happening these days.”
Is it that crazy, though? That you’re getting blamed for that stuff? You’re a real doctor treating real patients on reality television — can you really blame the great unwashed watchers of television for thinking that you’re these peoples’ actual doctor instead of just some guy who’s making money off their addictions? I won’t say that you want them to fail, but the fact that they have, and that they’ve ended up at your doorstep, is certainly advantageous to you, as far as money is concerned. Sure, you help them get off drugs, but your responsibility to them shouldn’t end when the cameras stop filming or when they walk off-set. That’s how reality television works, but it’s not how addiction or its treatment work. Maybe this is a good reason for why the two should never have been combined in the first place. Just a thought.
(Image: Ian Wilson / WENN.com)