3.12.2008

5 Stinky Thoughts on Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew - Episode 9: "Finale"

Each week I offer a quick recaplet on the latest episode of the new VH1 experiment in candid celebreality, Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew. The fun continues this week with episode 9, "Finale."

Thought #1: How 'Bout That Red Carpet?
In a series loaded with bad/lame ideas from the producers (Catalina? Pool Party? You name it...), the red carpet staging of the "Coining Out Ceremony" proved a mostly interesting drama container. I especially appreciated how the "sober-living-is-the-only-way" mantra was complicated, productively, by the rehearsal of alternative post-rehab sobriety plans (ie. outpatient treatment, "90-Meetings-in-90-Days", intense 1-on-1 therapy). There are all kinds of ways to get sober, some of which you don't have to pay for, and it was nice that this episode -- after months of being basically a commercial for residential rehab -- did acknowledge some of the other paths of recovery. I also thought the graduation was cute, with the rehab techs all dressed up along one side. (Side note: why didn't we get to know the black woman rehab tech? I only really remember her as Jeff's designated handler/animal trainer. I got the impression that William did nights and NurseShelly did days, so what about this other lady?) Anyway, I first thought the whole GrandPapaDrew-delivers-sobriety-diplomas was going to be lame but, here, I was surprised that it proved as dynamic and fruitful staging device.

Thought #2: Severe Chronic Assholism?
An aspect of "Severe Chronic Assholism"
which commenter Beth has called me on is how I use "Severe Chronic Assholism" as way to express my annoyance with people. Which I have done, and will likely continue to do. But this week, I had a lot of empathy for everyone as they "acted out." Everyone's clearly very frightened and (with the exception of Seth who's totally clear on what he's doing and thus able to be calm about it) everyone's fairly frightened , either of disappointing DrDrew and/or being challenged by him for making their own choice. All of which reminded me of a crucial part of what I call "Severe Chronic Assholism." For me, "Severe Chronic Assholism" most essentially describes the drug-seeking behaviors that survive abstinence and pop up in vulnerable moments of sobriety, often as cues that the person is getting ready to "use" again (if not their drug of choice, then some other way to "check out" of the moment). In my use of the phrase, I am also usually talking about when someone uses the same behaviors they used to get people out of their way so they could do their drug of choice -- bullying, rationalization, aggrievement, righteousness, victimhood, etc -- using those same behaviors to get people out of their way so they can get their way. And this week, I think we saw this aspect of "Severe Chronic Assholism" in Jaimee's agitated willfulness (especially about that horrible "no TV after midnight" rule), which DrDrew seemed right to be concerned about, as well as Mary's anxious, people-pleasing equivocations. Addiction rehearses people in being assholes, and those habits are sometimes nearly as hard to break as the drinking/drugging.

Thought #3: Moments of Clarity with NurseShelly.
Of course, the perfect NurseShelly moment came when all the Rehabitants had left the building and, surveying their residual wreakage, NurseShelly wistfully observes: "This place is still a mess. Unbelievable." But the truly best NurseShelly moment came, unsurprisingly, from Ricco (whose love-hate relationship with NurseShelly really warrants its own video mashup). During his goodbye testimonial, Ricco offered his thanks to everyone in the facility, "Even Shelly the Shark." He went on to address the group ("She's always got the answers and that's why I don't like her") before turning again to NurseShelly to say, "I owe you an apology but, at the same time, I want to thank you for being so tough on me." And then Ricco started to cry. For reals. Behold the power of NurseShelly. I love NurseShelly.

Thought #4: What I Didn't Need To See.
While I thought the "Coining Out Ceremony" was full of genuinely interesting stuff, the fact that the producers clearly seem to have rehearsed the Rehabitants in framing their outgoing testimonies. All simply to amplify the suspense of the reveal. In particular, I found the heavily teased MaryEllen/DrDrew smackdown to be especially tedious. But whatever. I suppose I should cut the producers some slack. They clearly thought they were doing a rehab edition of Celebrity Fit Club or something like Surreal Life Goes to Rehab when this thing warranted a whole 'nother genre. But between the tricksy chronologies, bad idea scenarios, and conspicuous drama-stirring, the inelegant, inexpert and ill-advised producerly shenanigans remain the only truly sub-par features of this strangely compelling show.

Thought #5: Celebrity Rehab's Lessons in Sobriety.
I caught a snippet of a Tyra episode last Friday in which she featured DrDrew and some of the Rehabitants reporting on some of their experiences post rehab. All I can say is, "wowza" (especially to Jessica, who seemed completely, beautifully transformed and who has one heckuva post-Celebrity Rehab tale to tell). So, I confess to watching this episode with some additional information, all of which makes me more obsessed with the 90-minute (!) reunion special set to air tomorrow night. And that awareness really does underscore what seems to be this episode's lesson in sobriety: no matter how many tools a rehab -- or a therapist, or a 12-step program, or a therapist, or a spiritual path, or whatever -- no matter how many tools an addict is given to accomplish the day-to-day work of sobriety, it's up to the recovering addict to use those tools. It takes what it takes for each individual to discover their route to true personal recovery and this episode underscores just how complex and challenging that journey is. But all I can say is: bring on the drama of the reunion! I can't wait!!!

But please bring on your drama in comments, beloveds.
SEE ALSO previous "Stinky Thoughts" on Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew:
Episode 1 ("Intake")
Episode 2 ("Detox")
Episode 3 ("New Arrival")
Episode 4 ("Sex & Trauma")
Episode 5 ("Bye Bye Baldwin")
Episode 6 ("Friends and Family")
Episode 7 ("Retreat")
Episode 8 ("Graduation")
And be sure to tune in on Friday for every addict's favorite thing: MORE!!!

1 comment:

Beth said...

Thanks for explaining in more detail your criteria for picking the severe chronic assholism awardee. Given those guidelines, I actually agree with your pick this week, though I too had compassion/empathy for all of them. Still, Jamie's "hell no" response to the horror of not having tv after midnight deserves some special credit. It's clear what she really was saying is "hell no and I'll think of any excuse I can to try to justify that answer."

As regards the reunion show, Daniel and Jessica won't be there, the former by choice (and I think for the better) and the latter due to...well I suspect that story, for those who don't already know, will be on the reunion special. I wish she could have been on the reunion, though. (Just fyi, the Tyra interview was taped prior to last December.)