This is just incredible. VH1, which has long since been using shows like “The Surreal Life,” “Celebrity Fit Club,” and “Mission: Man Band” as a thinly veiled excuse to showcase and exploit the substance abuse of washed-up celebrities, has finally figured out a way to “cut out the middleman” so to speak, by making a show that completely revolves around the substance abuse of washed-up celebrities. Does anyone else see the sheer, unadulterated genius in this? Oh, it’s evil as fucking hell, of course. But brilliantly evil. “Celebrity Rehab (with Dr. Drew!)” is the true story of eight celebrities (in the loosest sense of the word) picked to live in a rehab facility and have their lives taped to find out what happens when people stop drinking, and uh … smoking pot, and snorting blow, and smoking crack, and popping pills, and whatever the hell Chyna is on … and start flipping the fuck out. Dr. Drew Pinsky, the namesake of the endeavor and the ringleader of this freakshow, is most recognizable from his stint on the MTV show “Loveline,” in which audience members asked questions about jacking it to photos of their sister and having unprotected sex with transvestites. More recently he is known for his radio show of the same name and as being the go-to guy when Us Magazine needs the uninformed opinion of a “professional” on the mental state of Britney Spears. So, for all intents and purposes of this review, I’m going to go ahead and assume he’s a hack.
To habitual VH1
users viewers, the peanut gallery is unsurprisingly mostly made up of alums from the aforementioned “Surreal Life” and “Celebrity Fit Club.” The cast is comprised of Jeff Conaway, of “Taxi” and Grease fame; former pro wrestler and aspiring actress Joanie “Chyna Doll” Laurer; Brigitte Nielson, who did some stuff in the ’80s and now is mostly famous for banging Flavor Flav; porn star Mary Carey; “American Idol” skank Jessica Sierra; Seth “Shifty” Binzer of the shitty band Crazytown; Jaimee “Judy Winslow” Foxworth of “Family Matters,” who I’m pretty sure didn’t even have a speaking part on that show; and last but most certainly least: Daniel “Which One Is That?” Baldwin. Now before you go all “it’s not nice to make fun of people’s addictions” on me, there’s one thing you have to understand about rehab — people aren’t going to take it seriously and sober up unless they actually want to. Not because you give them an ultimatum and not because you force them, and most certainly not because it’s a paying job. And two things are pretty apparent right off the bat: it’s that all of these people need help and almost none of them are taking it seriously. So when it comes to sympathy? I have none.
The premiere episode I watched served mostly to get backstory on the cast and their history of substance abuse as they filed into the rehab facility. Jeff Conaway, as it appears, is addicted to every intoxicant known to mankind. He rolls up to rehab not only three shits to the wind from a night of booze, pills and blow, but with Dom Perignon in hand. He spends the rest of the episode in a wheelchair mewling incoherently like a retarded monkey until the effects of withdrawal kick in and he’s taken away via ambulance. Crackhead Seth Binzer, who gets my vote as castmember whose drug-induced death I would be most apathetic towards, additionally arrives with alcohol on him. Mary Carey, on the other hand (who coincidentally used to “date” Seth Binzer), shows up with an array of sex toys and adult videos, all of which are confiscated. It’s like, do these people even understand what rehab is? Or were they somehow tricked onto this show by being told it was “Celebrity Let’s All Get Wasted and Fuck Club?”
But my favorite castmember would have to be Daniel Baldwin. I’m pretty sure Daniel is the least relevant of all the Baldwins, and ranks below even the one who starred in Bio-Dome. But there’s something very important you have to understand about Daniel Baldwin, and it’s that he’s already been sober since November of 2006. He just went on the show “to keep his sobriety on track!” That’s not what rehab is for! That’s what weekly group meetings are for! How hard up for work do you have to be, man?! Unlike the others, the guy made a consciously sober decision to check himself into “Celebrity Rehab!” In the previews for the upcoming season, Daniel is seen tattle-taling on the rest of the cast and bitching that their actions are counterproductive to his sobriety. Well, right there would be a perfect example of why not to check into rehab when you’re already sober. I love it.
In the initial patient interviews, Dr. Drew’s treatment seems to consist mostly of asking questions and then making bitchy, raised-eyebrow faces in response to the answers, which is actually more entertaining than you think. Like, “I don’t know. Do you think that sounds like something a normal person would do?” But the real breakout star is the facility nurse, who totally reminds me of Judy Greer’s Kitty from “Arrested Development” with lines like, “Well, it’s none of my personal business…” in response to Mary Carey asking if she’s “allowed” to masturbate in rehab. Dr. Drew warns the group that not all of them will make it through the program, as a result of either opting to leave or being thrown out. And whaddaya know — spoiler alert! The rehab apparently didn’t “take” for Jessica Sierra. Oh well.
But above and beyond everything else, there’s something we can all learn from “Celebrity Rehab,” and it is that Brigitte Nielson is only forty-five years old. That would be 45 in people years. So you see, kids? This is what happens to a person when they drink a fifth of vodka every day for 25 years. The truth ain’t pretty, and neither is Brigitte.
“Celebrity Rehab: With Dr. Drew” premieres Thursday on VH1 at 10 p.m.
Stacey Nosek is a television columnist for Pajiba, and lives in the scenic woodlands of rural Pennsyltucky. You can also find her ripping on celebrities at Webster’s Is My Bitch.
"Celebrity Rehab" / Stacey Nosek
TV | January 9, 2008 | Comments ()