Vh1′s show Celebrity Rehab may attempt to help those suffering from addiction, but increasingly the show is making a mockery of its patients mental health. The most recent debacle? Real Housewife Michaele Salahi has been booted from Dr. Drew’s rehabilitation facility because she doesn’t exhibit any actual addictions. But that never stopped the show’s casting agents before. So it’s time for VH1’s hit show to get its own rehab. Or maybe the network just needs to drop it cold turkey.
The show was initially created to treat celebrities with major drug and alcohol addictions. Coincidentally, such people make for great TV. Not that there ever was a purity to the program, but increasingly, people who have questionable addictions are being cast. One patient from last season suffered from something called “love addiction.”
Most often, the candidates who make the show have no career alternatives and clearly need the income with which VH1 provides them. For some, it may be a way to trick them into getting help. For others, it just adds to their problems.
But this week’s news from the show highlights what a mess it has become. Michaele has been replaced by actress Sean Young. A representative from the show tells Us Magazine:
“The treatment program that Celebrity Rehab documents is intended for individuals with substance abuse and addiction issues. Producers were advised that Michaele Salahi met the criteria to be treated in this setting. However, professional assessments found that she did not meet such criteria.”
Michaele’s husband Tareq claims that “Michaele was fired due to her health condition, which is a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.”
His wording is interesting. How do you get “fired” from rehab? Unfortunately, Celebrity Rehab is often a job for desperate celebrities who cannot otherwise get themselves paying work.
But Michaele is not the only speedbump for the show right now. Last month, former Jersey Shore castmate Angelina Pivarnik was booted from the show for demanding too much money.
She, too, only marginally hit the requirements for in-patient rehab. And when the story leaked to the press, it was obvious that Celebrity Rehab is run more like a business than a legit therapy center.
Dr. Drew Pinsky has made a cottage industry for himself treating celebrity patients. Just today, he was on The Today Show diagnosing Charlie Sheen. And he’ll soon be airing a Sheen special for VH1. And just what purpose would that armchair diagnosis serve? It will hardly help Sheen, who’s already said he’d like to fight Drew in a boxing ring.
A few weeks ago, Jason Wahler, another celebrity from last season’s show, noted that no one followed up with his treatment after filming ceased. And most of his rehab was underway before he went on the show.
Yesterday, former patient Mike Starr was found dead. Obviously, VH1’s show can’t be held responsible for what happens in the lives of these patients after they leave the treatment facility. But at this point, the show is clearly more focused on ratings than helping people. Maybe it always was.
But rather than focus on severe (and real) drug and alcohol addictions, Celebrity Rehab is increasingly concerned with the addictions (however limited) of people who make for good TV. Often they suffer from treating people for celebrity narcissism (a phrase Dr. Drew seems to have coined). And while that may produce an endless supply of patients in Hollywood, considering how quickly and often Dr. Drew appears on TV whenever a celebrity meltdown transpires, it appears that he also suffers from that problem.