Here’s the problem with these rehab-on-TV shows: They are showing rehab. On TV. Um, most sobriety programs have “anonymous” in their names for a reason. Because anonymity is a key aspect of getting over addictions, which means television might make the process a bit tougher. VH1’s Sex Rehab with Dr. Drew becomes the latest semi-serious attempt to depict the process of overcoming addiction. And with its Sunday premiere, the series, like Celebrity Rehab before it, achieved the same odd combination of attacking important issues and allowing a salacious look at people who seem far worse off than most of us. It’s truly great for anyone in any public forum to treat masturbation, condom use, STDs, and the tricky connection between sex and emotion as serious subjects worthy of genuine, nonjudgmental discussion. But there’s no denying the more voyeuristic elements of this series: While not a “celebrity” reality show per se, every attempt was clearly made to satiate viewers with characters who have as sexy a public connection as possible — a pro surfer, a Playmate, a rock drummer who worked with Skid Row, a porn star, the gorgeous wife of a guy who won Rock Star: Supernova, and even the requisite reality crossover star, Celebrity Rehab grad/swimsuit model Amber Smith. And yes, all these pretty darn beautiful people are expected to live together while fighting their urge to sleep with other beautiful people, and these people who for the most part perform for a living are supposed to ignore the cameras while doing this. It’s the kind of show that can seamlessly move from painful admissions of repeated childhood sexual abuse to funny, camera-ready demonstrations of sexual frustration (when hyperactive surfer James Lovett hits the treadmill). Uncomfortable? Yes. Reprehensible? Maybe. Watchable? Absolutely.
What did you think, PopWatchers? Does Sex Rehab successfully walk the line between redeemable and egregious? Is this an acceptable way to fight addiction? Most important: Will you keep watching?