The reality TV show Celebrity Rehab has wowed fans since it began 3 years ago, but recent accusations by some of the show’s past celebrities have people questioning the motives of producers of the show. Are they exploiting messed up lives to bring in the money, or are they really working to save lives?
Exploiting Drug Abuse
Actor Leif Garrett claims that when he went on the show in late 2010, he had been sober for a few days, but producers encouraged him to do drugs so they could get footage of it. Garret said he couldn’t turn that request down. Cast mate Jason Wahler backs up the accusation with his own experience. He was asked to drink alcohol by producers, even though he came into the filming already sober. Wahler reports that he was committed enough to sobriety that he refused, but says that many celebrities aren’t that serious about recovery. “I wanted to show that I was taking my problem seriously,” Wahler told TV Squad. “I was revamping myself and showing everyone I’m not drinking.” (1)
Other celebrities have also come forward with accusations that the show is cashing in on displaying the train wrecked lives of celebrities on drugs. Jeff Conway said that during his time on the show, “We all knew we were on TV. I think everybody, like myself, made choices. Sometimes we would go a little bit further than maybe we normally would. You can’t help it. There are cameras sitting in front of your face, and we’re paid to be dramatic. That’s what we do.”
Steven Tyler, about fellow musician Steven Adler, said, “They wanted him to act out his own messed-up state when he entered rehab. It was ghoulish and unreal. They gave him 30 grand for the episode, he snorted it all, crashed his car, and he ended up in jail detox. It didn’t seem to me all that ethical…not to mention getting trashed celebrities to mime their own self-destructive nosedives which they then sensationalize on a melo-fing-dramatic reality show, which so traumatizes them they end up in worse shape than ever — from the drugs they bought with the money from the show.” (2)
Celebrity Rehab’s producers deny all such allegations. A VH1 publicist said, “The show’s producers would never ask anyone to use…PERIOD.” (1) And to be fair, many celebrities, even those unhappy with the pressure from producers, say Dr. Drew is genuine and honest. Cast member Janice Dickinson says he saved her life.
Many people have been uneasy with the concept of Celebrity Rehab since the show’s beginning. Sure, dr. Drew is able to help some celebrities sober up, but many don’t stay that way. Some say that producers even asked them to lie to keep relapse a secret.
The show magnifies drama for ratings, and it puts people’s private struggle on display for the world to see. Because we as a society are drawn to viewing the shocking, the uncomfortable, and the unbelievable, the show will continue to be aired. With the recent accusations, however, more people should be aware that reality TV is not really real.