The 'Celebrity Rehab' season premiere reaffirms Dr. Drew's devotion to making you squirm


Image Credit: Vince Bucci/VH1

If there is one semi-intelligent thing about Celebrity Rehab, Dr. Drew Pinsky’s den-of-misery reality show that began its fifth season of self-righteous wallowing last night, it’s the perhaps-accidental thesis that hovers over every interaction on the show: That, when you put aside the alcohol and the cocaine and the prescription meds and every other drug under the southern California sun, the show’s participants are addicted most of all to fame.

On last night’s premiere, former Baywatch kid Jeremy Jackson explained how he started using a whole galaxy of steroids in order to get fit for a comeback. ’80s movie icon Sean Young simply noted that she was an actor, and “Actors drink.” And then there’s Michael Lohan, a man who has created a curious career for himself as a pop culture bĂȘte noire, perpetually present at the scene of a tabloid train-wreck. (Remember when he was planning a show with best buddy Jon Gosselin called Divorced Dads Club?)

Of course, Dr. Drew never really presses his charges in such directions; he never suggests that what they might really need is to get away from cameras for awhile. After all, no camera, no show. Maybe you are able to accept the essential argument of Celebrity Rehab, that people who descended into drug addiction while in the spotlight should also experience rehabilitation in the spotlight. For me, Rehab is an experience in endurance. That’s not a knock on any of the participants, who all seem genuinely in need of professional help.

I hope that they can get professional help. The gang of hooligans who run Dr. Drew’s celebrity center sure don’t seem up to the task. At one point in the premiere, the show took a curious left-turn. Dr. Drew informed his staff that Steven Adler, former Guns n’ Roses drummer, was on his way to the facility. Drama: Jennifer, one of Dr. Drew’s assistants, had a bad experience with Adler on Sober House. She talked about having welts on her back; the camera caught her crying to another co-worker. The music was dramatic: Could Jennifer do her job? Could she stand up to big bad Steven Adler? And also, could Dr. Drew help Steven Adler get better this time?

Oh, what a crock. What sort of boss wouldn’t tell one of his employees that kind of information ahead of time? “Hey, you know that patient who abused you? He’s driving over right now!” Also, if the show is about the celebrities getting better, what’s the point of showing one of the rehab employees suffering a panic attack onscreen, except to expand the show’s quagmire of misery?

The whole medium of “reality TV” leans toward train wreckage. But at least most bad reality TV is innocent enough to be fun. Five seasons in, Celebrity Rehab has never felt more guilty.

Viewers, did you watch the premiere?

Follow Darren on Twitter: @EWDarrenFranich

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Comments (37 total) Add your comment
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  • Rob



  • tomm

    Dr. Drew is a fame wh00r, too. Every answer he says is ‘you must have been abused as a child’.

    If people would turn off the darn shows, then they’d go off the air.

    • Mellissa

      But guess what? Many of his patients have suffered some sort of abuse as a child.

    • tcc

      I would rather get addiction advise from Danny Bonaduce then Dr. Drew who has no compassion or real “understanding” of addiction. Sorry Drew you are a pompous jerk.

  • The Prophet Blog

    Celebrity Rehab is one of the best reality shows out, and many former patients/stars have vouched for Dr. Drew and the program.

    Calling the staff at the Pasadena Recover Center a “gang of hooligans” is really disrespectful, especially to Bob and Shelly. They’re not hooligans, they’re serious specialists in the field and former addicts themselves. They even have their own treatment facility in Hollywood that doesn’t get televised. They work around the clock trying to help people.

    VH1 may sensationalize Celebrity Rehab a lot but at its core the people’s problems are REAL and so are the staff who are trying to treat them. They offer a tonne of aftercare treatment and facilities too that aren’t shown on camera. The celebs aren’t just used for a TV show and left to rot.

    • Maxi

      I may not like the sensationalism of the concept but Dr. Drew, Shelly, Bob r all dedicated recovering addicts, and until the world realizes that we have an epidemic, of drug addiction in this country, I say by any means possible, I am a recovering addict with twenty years sober and I applaud the efforts of these dedicated ppl. Any way u save a life, and bring clarity to the world, is wonderful, more power to them

  • Kevin

    Does the word “Duh” mean anything to you?

  • T2

    Did I watch? No. But I DVR’d it, and will get to it after everything else.
    I much prefer the non-celebrity Intervention, over on A&E.

  • Ally

    LOL..I’m sorry..”in the spotlight”? “away from cameras”..? Since when does Michael Lohan live his life “in the spotlight” or the guy from baywatch or any of the other has-beens? I get your argument and you are probably right in terms of true rehab but I think all these people HAVE been away from cameras for quite awhile now..

  • Enough already

    stop watching these shows and they will all go away. Honestly, do we really need Kardashians, Hiltons and their like? no, no we don’t.

    • Maxi

      U can hardly compare, the Hiltons, to a group of dedicated recovery specialists, the only thing the Hiltons have in common with the show is that they r both on TV

  • WifeBeatnPusCeater

    Did Amy Fisher spread her p u s s y and bum hole for the patients and staff? I wonder if any of the patients will help stuff her holes and stain her tonsils with some pearly white c u m.

    • JMB in FL

      Umm… hello? Is anyone monitoring these boards? “The rules: Keep it clean, and stay on the subject – or we may delete your comment. If you see inappropriate language”. How about doing your job, people???

      • Maxi

        I agree

      • Linda

        They never delete this pervert’s comment! He must be a staff member.

    • Maxi

      U r a disgusting human being

  • Angie

    Dr. Drew, unfortunately, is just as addicted to the spotlight as his patients. I believe that he really does want to help them, but I get tired of him inserting himself into news stories. (“Dr. Drew weighs in on Star X’s overdose/rehab stint/death.”) If he wants to be a doctor, he should be a doctor, not a talking head.

  • Glowbug

    Dr. Drew does like the floodlights of fame –he is on HLN every weeknight–like Dr. Phil he tries to help people but he does it publicly–if you have serious problems, I can’t imagine discussing privte pain so publicly

  • 867-5309

    Dr. Drew is a first rate quack on the same level as Dr. Phil. I wouldn’t trust that man to put a band-aid on a paper cut.

  • DavidJ

    I’m a big Dr Drew fan from the Loveline days, and I’m sure he sees this as a great way to educate the public about the power of addiction… but I agree there’s still something kind of distasteful about the whole thing.

    • Maxi

      I am a huge fan of Dr. Drew and he is very sincere…and drug addiction and dying r more distasteful than u can imagine

  • ObiHave

    You either want to be better or the spotlight…the two can’t go hand in hand.

  • Huh

    No, I did not watch this trash. But I did watch past seasons; before realizing just how sickening and manipulative Dr. Drew is. What about the season when he forced Tom Sizemore and Heidi Fleiss together? Just what was needed for sensational TV–a convicted batterer and his victim forced to endure group therapy together, with all the hostility and toxic energy that entailed. What sick scenario will Dr. Drew engineer nest–forcing rapists and their victims to hug for the cameras? Sick!

  • Goldenview

    Great Article! Why must they be in the spot light to get help???? $$$$… They get money for having drug problem. Any other place they would have to pay through the nose for re-hab out of their own pockets and not get the affirmation of being on television.Grow up people. Your ADULTS with substance abuse problems. Get off the boob tube and into a confined space without cameras. Its just teaching these people that if they screw up. They get paid and recognition from millions that watch the show. What does it teach them? Be sober. No acting gig. Be a screw up. Get paid. This show sucks. I’m switching to A & E for “INTERVENTION”

    • bt

      Oh I am sure they screw up just to get on tv. get real yourself.People on intervention also get their way paid to rehab. It seems it may be cutting too close to the vest for some people to watch. Why should addicts and alcholoics hide? It seems that is why many people have not gotten treatmnet in the past because of attitudes like yours.

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