Back in my middle school days, when cable was new at my house and MTV showed videos or aired The Grind during the day, I remember thinking that Dr. Drew was pretty cool on that Loveline show that I wasn’t supposed to be watching*. Despite my questions about the possibility that the different iterations of Celebrity Rehab were exploitative and my serious reservations about diagnosing a person you don’t treat (even though I have no real knowledge of the psychiatric field – it just seems wrong), I’ve always been all right with Dr. Drew. Until tonight.
I’m writing this post during the commercial breaks for the Teen Mom Reunion Special – “One-Year Check-Up with Dr. Drew” or something like that. Anyway, the interviews on these MTV specials are always a bit too short. I guess they edit the hell out of things to allow for the really long commercial breaks MTV has always had and to get viewers to go to MTV’s website for exclusive footage. And, this particular case, the interviews are trending towards the condescending.
Maybe I’m being too hard on Dr. Drew. But the constant spewing of statistics as an introduction to an interview and in the middle of a conversation are distracting. As are the mentions of various resources – like teen pregnancy prevention websites and dating violence websites – when there’s an appropriate segue. Not that I don’t think that these resources are important or that MTV’s target audience needs access to them. I think the more information, the better. Seriously, go to MTV now and stock up on useful information. But I do have a problem with the scripted and almost cold feeling of the Teen Mom reunion special. In particular, I have a problem with Dr. Drew asking Amber a question about her response to immense frustration acted out violently (in this case, when Amber hit Gary) being interrupted by Dr. Drew’s turning away to mention a useful domestic violence site. I know this information needs to be presented almost immediately so as to 1.) Not condone actions that even the actor disagrees with and to 2.) Capitalize on the short attention spans of teenage viewers, but there’s got to be a better way to do it.
Again, I appreciate the information and hope it helps someone, but the way this special has been running has been so forced and scripted and makes me feel as though once again, no one is listening to these young women when they speak. For a show that is relatively organic – while all reality shows are false in a variety of ways, this one has the feeling of a commitment to the truth – these specials with Dr. Drew ring a tad hollow.
But here’s what really, really gets to me about tonight’s episode. And now I say this with the understanding that these interviews have been just cut to pieces, but the particular topics Dr. Drew focused on in certain interviews – namely those with Maci and Amber – really bothered me. While both young women are dealing with schoolwork, daycare, being home (and frustrated) all day, changing residences, and partners who have not matured at the same rate as they have, Dr. Drew focused on the idea of reconciliation between the couples. And while I know Dr. Drew is a professional and I am just a lowly English grad student, as I watched more and more Teen Mom this season, I began to really, really hope that both Maci and Amber would leave their boyfriends for good. It was hard to watch these girls – both with older partners – grow up quickly and pass their boyfriends in maturity. And I didn’t think that Ryan and Gary were bad guys. They’re probably very nice, but it has been clear since the original 16 and Pregnant series that neither Ryan nor Gary were prepared for the demands of the type of relationship that involves a girlfriend AND a baby. And, it seemed to me that all members of these couples had trouble empathizing with one another or working as a team. I wasn’t rooting against these guys, but I felt like Maci and Amber needed to cut Ryan and Gary off so that they could stop feeling like they were being dragged down to places that made them tense, anxious, and self-doubting. Basically, I didn’t think that the pain these girls said they felt would stop until they quit thumbing the bruise. But Dr. Drew, he thought that getting back together was an option in Maci and Ryan’s case and appeared to congratulate Amber and Gary for resolving their differences. I guess we saw different things.
Okay, okay, Dr. Drew did a decent interview with Farrah, who I totally understood but found completely frustrating nonetheless**. I’m also wondering if this show was shot before or after Farrah and her mom had that nasty domestic violence incident. No one has said anything and Dr. Drew’s about to bring her mother out, but that could just be to talk about the regular tension between the two of them***.
All right, that’s enough Teen Mom and Dr. Drew. I’ll be TiVoing the new season of 16 and Pregnant, so until then I’ll just have to live off the fumes of the memories of the quality programming MTV provided this season.
*For the record, I mostly didn’t watch. Most things went right over my head, which meant that I got bored really quickly.
**Yes, she was selfish, but most teenagers are. The fact that she became a mom wasn’t going to rip all the teenager out of her, as frustrating as that might be for those who are around her (or watching on TV). Also, a lot of us can understand the impulse to have your cake and eat it, too. It just gets more complicated when raising a baby and expectations about what one’s role as a mother should be gets involved.
***Okay, this is either before Farrah’s mom’s arrest or the whole special is set up to be mildly deceptive about what went on between those two.