On March 17, 2011, I published The Death of Mike Starr Questions the Value of Celebrity Rehab in our Celebrity Semiotic blog:
I find Celebrity Rehab and Sober House to be depressive and memeingless. The toxic relationships are difficult to tender and impossible to abide. Should rehab and therapy and healing be done in private and away from the public square or shown weekly on VH1? I can’t imagine anyone who is addicted ever wanting to attend a rehab program after watching those Pinsky train wreck soap operas.
I am most disappointed in Drew Pinsky, who appears to be a good man, but his direct involvement in the exploitation of celebrity addiction is stunning because he is trained to know better. Drew Pinsky must know those people need privacy and ongoing, deep, therapy away from the very lights and microphones that likely helped push them down the path to their addiction in the first place.
Some commenters on that story, and in hate mail sent via via email, thrashed me for failing to see the good in the show.
I stood by that article then — as I do now — and today, I am thrilled to share with you the news that Bob Forrest — one of the producers and co-creators of Celebrity Rehab — also shares my dismay with the very show he founded.
Here’s what Bob told the Los Angeles Times last week:
By 2008, Pinsky and Forrest were on the air with their first class of addicts and the show quickly became a guilty-pleasure hit, spawning the spinoffs “Sober House” and “Sex Rehab With Dr. Drew.” Since then, the show has drawn criticism from others in the drug treatment world who say it exploits addicts. Forrest is conflicted about “Celebrity Rehab,” which he says depicts the reality of the deadly disease of addiction, but not always in the manner he had envisioned.
“If I had to do it all over again I don’t think I’d walk into the office and say we should do this show,” Forrest said of “Celebrity Rehab.” “I don’t like the editing of it. I don’t like that they show the same thing over and over again. I don’t like what it’s become technically.”
Now, if only Dr. Drew Pinsky would be so brave and forthright and confess in the public square, as Bob has, that Celebrity Rehab, and its demon offspring shows, should be shuttered and disowned forever. Erase the tapes. Burn the DVDs. Pretend the show never happened.
This season’s treatment of Amy Fisher — with Drew’s strange on-camera badgering of her last week during a group session by forcefully telling her who her friends are and are not; along with him also allowing her to be repeatedly verbally abused by others in the group — achieves the absolutely incomprehensible: Contrite sympathy for a convicted felon who shot Mary Jo Buttafuoco in the head. Now, that’s some amazing rehab!