watching sober house on VH1 is pretty painful. not for the reasons you might, think — me, being such a reality show junkie (pun intended). it’s not the has-been celebrities or even the “who’s that? *are they* a celebrity?” roundabout sort of things that are going on there. it’s literally that the drama that is being shown on there is really that — drama. it’s hard to explain. the drama of the jersey shore ridics or the hills or rock of love is all pale in comparison to sober house.
the jersey shore people are so stupid and ridiculous it’s just painful to watch them. it’s truly a reality show people watch to feel completely superior to the people they’re watching on tv. it’s ironic then, that these people have blown up to become temporary household catch phrases and pop culture watchwords; if only to be cautionary tales of what happens when you drop in a tanning booth too many times a week or find yourself gazing too longingly at an ed hardy catalog by accident with your wallet too nearby. the drama here is bombastic and childish and purely laughable — whatever ill befalls these people will be made up for in endorsements and appearance fees.
as i understand it, the hills was some sort of strange hybrid of real people acting out some sort of hollywood life-script that took on a life of its own — creating strange characters that ended up walking out of the show like godzillas off a movie soundstage — wreaking havoc wherever they went and becoming plasticized versions of real human beings. dear lord. i can honestly say i never did end up watching an episode of that show. the drama here walks the line between script and soul-sucking.
and rock of love. a competition show where some sort of nostalgic figure comes back a lot worse for the wear to incite the children of his fans to compete in various slutty challenges for his affection and the chance to be his right-hand woman. the drama that ensues is tantalizing; each woman plays out some sort of character, having been cast as such when she was hand-picked by the producers for the show. there are fights between villains and all out brawls; alliances are created and plans and schemes hatches. people are backstabbed and tales are tattled. there is hardly anything more satisfying than a good romance-competition-drama on the old Video Hits One. so, so, delicious.
sober house presents a different kind of drama — one that might appear to have some of the same elements as some of the other reality shows. there is nitpicking and verbal sparring. there are people who seem to have it out for each other and can never really seem to get along. at every turn, there seems to be some sort of drama always spilling out; some sort of tension under the surface just waiting to go into overdrive. i could see where people would think this was scripted or that people were being dramatic just to play to the cameras.
but the reason it’s painful for me to watch is that i recognize these people. not as celebrities, but as recovering alcoholics and addicts. i get it. i know these people. i’ve seen them all before, and on some level, i’ve been (and can be) them before. i can see the people who are taking their recovery seriously, and i can see the people who are struggling. moreover, i can see the people who are totally pushing buttons and just doing their best not only to sabotage their own recovery, but completely fuck with the serenity and progress of the people around them.
it’s such a reminder of how powerful addiction is, and what it looks like on other people. i don’t care if you’ve had millions of dollars or who you used to fuck or what sorts of people you used to hang with — when alcoholism and addiction come a-callin’, it just all looks the same. it looks the same kicking ass and it looks the same leaving town. i am so happy for the people who seem to be understanding what it takes to recover, and i’m horrified and scared for the people on there who seem to be swinging in the breeze.
meanwhile, i really need to get to bed, because unlike all the trouble i have getting up for everything — somehow i’ve agreed to get up at 7:45ish to be picked up at 8:30 tomorrow to do 12-step stuff. there certainly are paradoxes around here. i don’t know how i’m always able to do stuff for that, but can’t manage to take care of stuff for myself. you just never can tell.