I’m a reality TV maniac. I love “American Idol” and “Dancing With the Stars”. I have been watching “Survivor” since that freak walked naked on the beach. Heck, I even remember Real World San Francisco and that incredibly despicable, Puck. Now, I am addicted to “Celebrity Rehab” with Dr. Drew.
My husband, who is several years (OK, more than several years!) older than me, and not an alcoholic was simply appalled at “Celebrity Rehab.” He couldn’t understand why the glorification of these seriously ill people was taking place. Their actions were so bizarre, that he thought perhaps they were acting with a script.
Well, if you’ve seen it, you know they aren’t. This second season of “Celebrity Rehab” brings back one of the most sorry celebrity creatures around, Jeff Conaway. Once the beautiful “Kenickie” in the movie, “Grease,” and Bobby on the 70’s television show, “Taxi,” Conaway is now a shell of his former self. His appearance each week on “Celebrity Rehab” is both heartbreaking and repulsive. Once a gorgeous, vital man, he is now an almost 60-year-old cocaine, alcohol, and painkiller addict in a wheelchair.
The stories on “Celebrity Rehab” are addictive themselves in that they are so sad – people with celebrity, money, and fame reduced to tears, vomiting, and shame. The third-place contestant from American Idol, the super model, the once-gorgeous actress, the son of a rock star, even Rodney King himself all struggle, week by week, to overcome their problems in much the same way us regular people do – but with cameras and microphones. And let us not forget Gary Busey and his decades-long quest for lasting sobriety.
The lessons to be learned by watching this show are many. Even the most privileged and talented among us can fall, and when they do, they fall hard – perhaps even harder than the rest of us. Watching these people go through rehab gives those of us who have never experienced it an insight into how bad life can actually become for an addict, what happens in rehab, and how changes evolves in a person. In the case of Jeff Conaway, a lesson is also learned – that one season of “Celebrity Rehab” is just not enough. Some people are unable to rehab, ever. Those of us who can are extremely lucky.