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Celebrity Rehab–an opinion

January 23, 2010


Do you watch VH-1’s show Celebrity Rehab? I do. It’s a fabulous show. I love it. I liken it to a car wreck–you don’t want to watch but you can’t look away. It’s THAT good, in a squirmy kind of way.

You have a bunch of people on the show that you’ve heard of somewhere on the fringes of your consciousness (this season there’s a model from Cycle 10,007 of America’s Next Top Model. If you are a watcher of that show, she’s Lisa, the one who peed in a diaper when those crazy MTV guys guested for the pool shoot.). There’s Mindy McCready, that blonde country singer who’s been in and out of jail–she is so sweet. She’s also suffering from seizures from all the drugs, alcohol, and oh, the hits to the head from her abusive, drug-addled ex-boyfriend. There’s MacKenzie Phillips. Rodman-blech. Some drummer from a metal band who is desperate for us to know who he is, Mike something, oh Star. Of course, we’ve all heard of Hollywood Madame Heidi Fleiss. And perhaps, at some point, Tom Sizemore. He hasn’t checked in as of yet. And some other chick we haven’t even seen yet.
The thing is, this group is messed up in so many different ways that when you are done watching, you feel like a rock star. You know that the one martini you had tonight is absolutely nothing compared to the coke or meth or heroin these folks have done on a daily basis since they were kids. Or maybe the ten martinis Lisa might have done in a night. Or twenty Vicodins Mindy might have taken. Or the heroin Mike would shoot–with his old man. (They are really close.) Or Heidi–she lives alone now in Death Valley with twenty parrots, and smokes meth all day long. She feels people have failed her. Then there’s um, let’s see, MacKenzie, and we’ve all heard her story, with that fucked up dad of hers and what he did to her. For the record, I believe her.
Sizemore–I just can’t even stand to look at to be honest. He just makes me sick. The gifted actor blah blah blah. He almost killed Fleiss and thank God she took him to task for it–he was convicted of domestic violence, making threats, and obscene phone calls, and served two years in jail for it and yet…and yet. When they saw each other at the center, for the first time in all those years, Fleiss could not jump into her shoes fast enough to go see him, this addict, this sweaty junkie. The feeling of love between them was palpable. It was, OMG, sweet. She told him, this pale, agitated, shell of man, that he looked handsome. From one junkie to another, I guess.
I took a shower at that point. Skieve.
So why do I tune in every week? I believe it’s a great cautionary tale, for one. I find it interesting that most of these people get into drugs for reasons having to do with their childhood–not in every case but for the most part. Almost all were abused physically or sexually in some way. It just so happened that when Hollywood called, the money made the drugs a party, fun, as Lisa said “I’m young, why the fuck not?” Their sense of judgement is completely gone. Heidi said money makes your life much easier; and much harder. I suppose when drugs are your weakness, that is true. Many of these “stars” on the show, and I use that terms very loosely, are flat broke. They have blown through literally thousands of dollars of drugs in a day, in a week. Broke.
But as they have their sit-downs with Dr. Drew,you realize that either you are very different than they are or quite similar. This is what you find out: Lisa and her sister were sexually abused, raped, by her mother’s boyfriend(s) at the age of eight! Her mother knew about it and did nothing (they no longer speak). MacKenzie was not only her father’s favorite drug buddy, shooting her up with coke and heroin by age thirteen, but also sexually abusing her throughout her childhood and into adulthood. Beyond. Now, I don’t know about you, but the closest I ever got to doing drugs with my folks was drinking wine (really good wine, I might add) with my dad.
McCready, often portrayed in the media as crazy, was in a violent, extraordinarily abusive relationship with a man whom she thought initially was a nice guy. When it turned south and she tried to leave, he tried to kill her. That’s when she found out she was pregnant with his child. She has a darling little boy now. Her mother, abusive to her and her siblings all her life, is now the one with custody of her child, due to Mindy’s continued drug use and the fact that the father is serving time for trying to kill her. Her brain is turning to mush. Rodman–his escapades are a joke at this point, right? You hear his name and snicker. In treatment, he’s above it all. He doesn’t think he has a problem, says he can quit drinking anytime, doesn’t say much really at all come to thin of it and when he does, comes off like a total asshole. Though, to be honest, when McCready had a seizure (from all the beatings), he rose like a shot out of bed to get to her ambulance. See, the Grinch does have a heart. Aw.
Dr. Drew seems like a genuinely nice man who has dedicated his life to helping people with their multitude of addictions. His show put these addictions in layman’s terms so that people watching, who may see themselves in those poor souls on this show–who have literally lost it all due to drugs–might seek help. Also, the staff who runs the center are all recovering addicts themselves. I think that’s so important for the recovery of the patient. (Off topic but kinda the same: I relate that to my own life in that when I was a sales trainer, the trainees all wanted to know if I was a salesperson first, for how long, how many awards I’d won, etc. Answer: yes, I was, many years, and lots.)
My one criticism of the show, of course, is that you wonder how real and committed these celeb patients really are. Are they just putting on a show? Are they really going to sober up or is this just another gig to get them back into the spotlight? You have to imagine casting agents and directors are just as engaged as we are in their lives…but so are the insurance companies that have to make sure they show up. Which is why most of them are still most likely unemployed.
I don’t know what Pinsky’s success rate is. As you no doubt know, the late DJ AM, a close friend of Dr. Drew’s, recently OD’d after “starring” in his own drug-related MTV show called “Intervention,” where he would attempt to get teens off drugs. Drug-free ten years himself, being around meth proved to be too tantalizing for the DJ and he died just weeks after filming began. See what I mean? Cautionary. Tale. Yea, he had the whole plane crash, Jewish guilt thing to deal with too; I get it. Oy. All I know is, that was sad.
Sometimes, I let my ten-year-old daughter watch with me. That’s probably shocking to most of you but if EVER there has been a way to show your kids not to do drugs, just show them Heidi Fleiss’s face.
Now that’s some scary shit right there, man.
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