For a long time, I was a big Dr. Drew fan. I watched Loveline and learned quite a bit about sexuality from his careful, openminded explanations. But the more famous Dr. Drew got, the more uneasy I felt. On Celebrity Rehab, he skirted the line of appropriateness several times, whether it was agreeing to televise therapy sessions (yes, they do have educational value, but they felt invasive), letting rehab patients get away with behavior that would have gotten them kicked out of any other facility (sneaking in guests, doing drugs, getting in fights), and barely concealing his crush on model Amber Smith. During the seasons of Celebrity Rehab and its sibling show Sex Rehab, I still managed to convince myself that Dr. Drew was still a good, well-intentioned guy despite all the ridiculousness. But it’s over. In the words of Sammi from Jersey Shore, I’m done. The final nail in the coffin? The Teen Mom season two finale special, which aired on Tuesday night.
During this season of Teen Mom, there has been a ton of reasons why every person on that show needs to be in therapy. Fortunately, some of them are – Farrah and her mom were seeing a counselor to deal with the aftermath of their fight, although Farrah says they’re “too busy” to go anymore, and Tyler and Catelynn have gone to couples therapy. However, choosing Dr. Drew to host the show’s reunion instead of a generic VJ or MTV personality, seemed to be a clue that MTV wanted to deal with the psychological and personal issues that came up during the show’s run. However, despite having many opportunities to grill the women and their families, Drew consistently threw softballs. In a clip that was featured in previews for the show, Drew told Catelynn’s horrible mother, April, that calling her daughter a bitch and saying other disparaging things counted as emotional abuse. He’s right, and April needed to hear that. But that’s where he ended. Instead of talking to April about why what she says is inappropriate and how it makes Catelynn feel, he asked a bunch of nonsensical questions about whether April is happy and has lots of friends, then encouraged her to enter a 12-step program to deal with her addiction. (Neither Drew nor April specified what the addiction was, but I’d bet a lot of money it’s meth.) Because Drew is an addiction specialist, he tends to eschew talking about anything instead of recovery. Of course, I am pro people conquering their addictions, but in this situation Drew had blinders on. The segment with Catelynn, Tyler, and April should have ended with an apology from April, instead of Catelynn crying and wishing her mother had more close friends. Once again, Catelynn took on the role of being supportive of her mother instead of the other way around, and Drew encouraged it.
Like Barbara Walters, it felt like Drew’s objective in each sit-down was to get the teen moms to cry. He achieved that objective easily – Farrah has been crying all season about the death of her daughter’s father, Maci tears up whenever she thinks about losing time with her son, and Amber is doing major damage control after being shown beating up her boyfriend on national television. While he touched on some of the flashpoints from the show, he also put words in the mouths of most of the young women. “Did it feel like you were betrayed?” he would ask, causing a reponse of “I felt betrayed.” Rather than asking open-ended questions, Drew seemingly had his own arc for the show in mind and then tried to push everyone to say things that would fit in his pre-created storylines. There was so much rich material to mine – Amber’s domestic violence and CPS investigation, Farrah and her mom’s fight, April’s abuse, Maci’s dishonesty – and Drew let almost everything slide. When he spoke to Amber about her assault, Amber just cried, claimed not to remember the incident, and swore she was always peaches and cream around her daughter. No one believed her, but Drew seemed satisfied with her responses.
Maybe I’ve been too hasty with my former TV boyfriend. It’s possible that Drew showed up ready to ask the hard questions and MTV – for legal or personal reasons – asked him to back off. Maybe the network’s PR team doesn’t want any of their stars (they may not be actors or singers, but the Teen Mom crew has been dominating tabloid covers the last few months and are making plenty of money for the channel) to look bad or say something damaging. Maybe the cast members refused to respond to questions they didn’t like. Either way, it’s possible that Drew isn’t the hack I suspect he is. But considering his wishy-washy behavior on his other show, it’s going to be pretty hard to convince me he isn’t just as fame-hungry as the people he’s purporting to counsel.