Thursday, April 30, 2009

Sex Rehab With Dr. Drew

It looks like Vh1 is getting ready to take on the important issue of sex addiction. And no, we don't mean that they've decided to do a very special season of Charm School. They recently announced a new show in development called Sex Rehab with Dr. Drew. Before you get too excited though, there's no mention of the show being celebrity sex rehab, as in Dr. Drew's previous Vh1 shows Celebrity Rehab and Sober House. (TMZ is claiming that cast members may include several porn stars, a director and producer, and a former Miss United States Teen who lost her title after appearing in Playboy.) But don't expect to see David Duchovny comforting Rob Lowe while Woody Harrelson looks on.

Here's the description:
Dr. Drew Pinsky is tackling a new yet very real addiction in Sex Rehab with Dr. Drew. In this eight episode one-hour series, Dr. Drew is turning his attention and cameras on a very widespread but rarely talked about addiction. Sexual compulsion afflicts roughly 6 percent of the American population and carries the same devastating consequences as any other addiction. For addicts, sex isn’t even pleasurable, but rather a way to escape the pain of past loss, childhood trauma, abuse and abandonment. Like many other addictions, their habits can cost them their jobs, their marriages, even their lives. Despite all this, the affliction is often dismissed because it’s not understood how something as natural and beautiful as sex can be an addiction. In this series Dr. Drew will treat a group of people in Los Angeles who are struggling with this disease while shedding some light on this oft-dismissed compulsion and all the destructive costs that come with it. The series is set to premiere in the fall of 2009. (Sex Rehab with Dr. Drew is executive produced by John Irwin and Bruce Toms for Irwin Entertainment. Dr. Drew Pinsky and Howard Lapides are also executive producing. Jeff Olde, Jill Holmes, and Noah Pollack are executive producers for VH1.)
We're kinda interested in seeing the show, but we're really interested in seeing the audience reaction to the show. Many people think of sex addiction as more of a punchline to jokes about how too much sex can possibly be a problem, rather than as an actual addiction like alcoholism or drug addiction that would require a similar kind of addiction treatment. We wonder if some viewers will have a harder time grasping something like this, and if there will be more judgmental commentary along the lines of "she's just looking for an excuse for being a slut" or "he just needs to learn to keep it in his pants" than there might be with the more common addictions that have been featured on Celebrity Rehab.

It'll also be interesting to see how the setup and the actual rehab process differs from Celebrity Rehab. One of the benefits of residential treatment is that you're supposed to be in a controlled and safe environment and away from temptations. Seems like that might be harder to accomplish when you've got a group of sex addicts living in close proximity to each other. Also, since sex addicts sometimes display other addictive behaviors also, do addicts who are in rehab for other addictions commonly try to turn to sexual compulsion because other temptations have been removed and they are in such close proximity to other addicts? There are some rehab facilities that are for women only (although it would be pretty heteronormative to suggest that as a perfect solution) and most, if not all, facilities have rules against sexual contact or relationships between patients, but as Daniel Baldwin taught us, stuff can happen. (I guess this is why there are so many different types of treatment centers with different areas of specialization.) We're not worried though, because we're sure Dr. Drew is going to answer all of our questions.

These rehab shows also always bring me back to the issue of channels like Vh1 encouraging certain behavior on one show and then showing the potential negative consequences of it on another. They provide lots of alcohol to contestants on shows like Rock of Love and I Love Money because they know that drinking brings out the dramalicious and often destructive behavior that the producers of those shows are looking for. (At the reunion show recently , a couple of the Rock of Love girls admitted to seeking treatment after watching their own drunk behavior on the show.) And then those shows are aired back to back with a show about addicts trying to get control of a disease that has screwed up their entire lives. Do Vh1 executives ever think about the disconnect there? Or do they just view it as squeezing drama and "entertainment" (and ratings) out of both sides of the addiction coin?

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