Rehab used to be a private affair. The founder of Alcoholics Anonymous wouldn't even allow himself to be photographed for Time, as a recent Final Jeopardy taught us. Clinics treated stars in private. Hush-hush.
Not anymore. News of rehab revitalizes careers. You stay in the news longer; people feel sorry for you; you might even get to tell your heartwarming recovery story on Ellen. Now that celebrities have turned rehab into a career move, it was only a matter of time before VH1 made going to rehab on television an option.
Britney and Lindsay are still above doing rehab on TV, so Celebrity Rehab With Dr. Drew's second season contains a lie in the title once again. This year's "celebrities" include Rod Stewart's son Sean, Rodney King and Jeff Conaway, back for a second season.
The man in charge is Dr. Drew Pinsky. Don't let his seven years of school fool you: He's just as bad as any of the other charlatans on television. Pinsky cavorts exclusively with horrible acts; the start of season two was celebrated with a song by Alter Bridge, the band that Creed became.
The ethics of season two are seriously dicey. Gary Busey attends thinking he's a mentor for the other contestants, but Pinsky has actually invited him on to get him help. Pinsky's attitude is infuriating. He knows what's wrong with Tom Cruise, Gary Busey and everyone else.
"I have a pretty keen ethical compass," he told The New York Times earlier this year. "That's why I can walk this line." Only Dr. Drew is competent enough to do a show on celebrity rehab. Don't lump him in with Dr. Phil, and don't let Dr. Phil get any ideas about a rehab show, either.
There's nothing wrong with exploiting celebrities who are happy to humiliate themselves to get work. Dr. Drew no doubt cares about his patients, and maybe teaches a lesson or two. But he's just a medicalized version of The Cleaner.
In Memoriam: David Brenner