The sixth in Lifetime’s series of documentaries on family crises, The Party’s Over, offers case studies of three ”interventions,” in which substance abusers are confronted by their families, their friends, and a counselor as the first step toward entering a treatment program and recovering. Referral numbers are provided, along with a welter of well-presented facts and reasonable suggestions.
Lifetime’s track record with these shows is commendable, but this time, the show’s producers have introduced a creepy, fatally voyeuristic gimmick: the families and the recovering addicts and alcoholics portray themselves in reenactments of the abuses and the interventions years after they actually happened. So we see a teenage boy tapping into old rage to fight with his mother, a family reassembling for a let’s-pretend showdown with their now drug-free son, and a lot of ordinary folk sweating and straining to act naturally. It doesn’t work as drama, and it certainly isn’t reality — inescapably, the final battles look easier, calmer, and more rational than they must have been.
Despite this self-sabotage, The Party’s Over makes its points with skill. Even in the middle of the most awkwardly staged scenes, old wounds reopen, and the pain that comes through doesn’t seem to be ”acted” or secondhand. But in a show about solving problems, nobody should be left to wonder if they’re getting real answers or mere simulations. B-