Reality bites


Everyone who is tuned in to any type of media, by now, has probably heard about country singer Mindy McCready’s suicide.

But amid the media circus surrounding her death, someone else has been pushed into the spotlight — and some people are even blaming Dr. Drew Pinsky for this tragedy.

McCready was part of Pinsky’s VH1 show, “Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew.” Though they were on different seasons, Rodney King, Joey Kovar from MTV’s “Real World;” Mike Starr, Alice in Chains bassist; and Jeff Conaway, perhaps best known for his role as Kenickie in “Grease,” were all part of Pinsky’s rehab show and have all died. McCready is the fifth of Pinsky’s rehab patients to pass away. Both Starr and Kovar died from overdoses. King died from an “accidental” drowning and drugs were said to be involved, while Conaway was said to have died from various causes, to include sepsis, pneumonia and encephalopathy. It was also rumored that he died of a drug overdose, but multiple media sources denied that claim.

Pinsky, meanwhile, has come under fire for exploiting the personal lives of these troubled stars on his reality TV show. He fired back via an LA Times interview, saying that he had not seen McCready in years.

"In a weird way I wish I could claim more responsibility for this. The reality is, though, I haven't seen Mindy, say, in years. I've talked to her occasionally, and we've been friendly, but I've not been her doctor in years," Pinsky said. "I wish some of them would stay with us,” he told LA Times reporter Christie D’Zurilla.

Pinsky went on to say that he advised McCready that she should seek help at a psychiatric hospital, which she eventually did, but he believes she checked out early because of the stigma associated with being committed to such a hospital. In the interview, he cited several other factors that could have contributed to her suicide, but at no time did he mention his show.

Which brings me to a point, which has been on my mind a lot lately, as I see previews for new television shows on what used to be educational channels. TLC is the biggest offender when it comes to airing reality shows. They used to be a channel that one could turn to in hopes of learning something new about science or health. Lately, however, it’s turned into another MTV. Long gone are the days of learning something useful. Instead, now they air shows like “Gypsy Sisters,” “Welcome to Myrtle Manor,” “Starter Wives Confidential,” “The Sisterhood,” “Something Borrowed, Something New,” “Cheer Perfection,” “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo,” “Pete Rose: Hits and Mrs.,” “Sin City Rules,” and “Say Yes to the Dress: Bridesmaids.”

Really, TLC? Who cares about all this craziness? Most of it is scripted, anyway! It’s amazing to think that there are probably people out there who watch every one of these shows religiously. Who really cares about the lives of celebrity exes? Or brides’ wedding dilemmas? Or cheerleaders? Or Southern beach life in a trailer park? Perhaps some of the fascination has to do with seeing how the “other half” lives.

Humans seem to be interested in the lives of others, but what happens when those lives turn out to be a train wreck? Do you turn off the TV and look away, or do you continue to watch? How much reality TV is too much?

While shows like “Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew” might be interesting, one has to wonder what sort of impact being on TV has for the already struggling addict. In McCready’s case, rehab didn’t help her. In addition to her addiction, she continued to suffer misfortune after misfortune and that eventually resulted in her suicide. But was the show partially to blame? Was it a bit too much to handle? Or was it just the series of events in her life that became overwhelming?

Though we will never know the answers to those questions, one thing is for sure, reality bites!