“Escapism From Reality?” By Aung Munster

Reality TV.  It can be showcased well, or it can be deplorable. Either way, I thought the premise of television was for people to flock to it for escapism purposes-from reality. Yet ironically, it seems that reality shows are the most popular of TV show genres. There are reality shows about pawn shops, car impounds, storage units. There is even a show about people who hoard. What is it with our culture? We derive pleasure by watching others live in complete and utter filth. Living amidst dozens of empty pizza boxes; moldy food strewn about-and in one case…rotting cat corpses in the living room. Is this entertainment?

Shining the spotlight on the human breakdown, the disease riddled structure of civilization is far from entertainment. Or. Is it? Ratings suggest otherwise.

Which brings me to the mecca of all reality shows (as far as human depravity goes.) “Rehab with Dr.Drew.” No celebs this time around. Judging from the previews, the patients seem quite diverse. As do their addictions. Hopefully their motives are to seek help, and regain control of their lives. The irony is, they walk in relatively “unknowns” i.e.”non celebs.” As soon as this show airs-instant notoriety and dare I say, fame.  Like so many others before them, and inevitably many thereafter-it will be shortlived.

Along with that spotlight comes a camera crew, lighting and sound people etc. One has to wonder if in the end, it will be more destructive than beneficial to those directly involved. In a sense they are test subjects. Who will cave first? Which one will be the one to throw in the proverbial towel?

What we will witness may sicken us. We’ll cry with them. We’ll cheer for them. We’ll probably scream at our TV’s and at anyone in our immediate vicinity who dares to speak during an episode. We’ll want to turn away, but-we won’t dare avert our eyes.

There will be some familiar faces. Resident techs Jennifer Gimenez, Shelly Sprague and Bob Forrest will be along for the journey once again.  They’ve all been where these patients are; &they have all successfully ascended from their respective addictions.

In my opinion, (basing the following on last season) Jennifer had grounded the show. Not only has she battled and continually defeats (on a daily basis) her own demons, she is (as well as Bob& Shelly) a living representation to the patients and viewers, that sobriety is a viable option. It does work. Jennifer also brings compassion and fortitude to the show. She exudes strength, yet there is an underlying vulnerability-in the sense that she knows (despite the fact that she’s strong in her recovery) that she could be right back in the same situation as the people she is assisting. It’s quite the symbiotic relationship.

Fortunately Jennifer doesn’t have to be the sole authoritative figure. There is also Shelly, with her tough as nails demeanor, who often white knuckles restraint, while somehow simultaneously evoking calmness. She seems to be the voice of reason when patients exhibit unruly behavior.

Then there is Bob Forrest. He is, well-simply a badass. Highly respected; &he doesn’t command respect. It’s automatically given; & willfully.

As for Dr. Drew, he’s a force to be reckoned with; & a man with an incredible array of neckties.

So let me revert back to my original question. Are we voyeurs, fascinated because its entertainment-or because it may in fact mirror our own lives? Are we secretly longing for the answers to be revealed in between commercial breaks? I’m sorry to break this to you my friend. You probably won’t find the answers you are seeking. Why you ask? More times than not, the answers that you will find will more than likely only lead to more questions; &there are only so many episodes.

This new “cast” of patients will not only tug on our heartstrings, but I have a feeling that by the end of the season our hearts will be completely extracted.

“Rehab with Dr. Drew” PREMIERES this Sunday Sept. 16th @8pm on VH1