Celebrities, they’re just like us! Completely fucked up and in need of a lot of therapy! But they get paid to do it and we get to watch it, because they’re celebrities and we are totally entitled to every dirty personal part of their lives, and “patient-doctor confidentiality” is a super outdated concept. VH1 knows this and that’s why they keep giving us these kinds of shows. Family Therapy follows a similar format to previous shows Couples Therapy and Celebrity Rehab—the latter notable for having several of its cast members die from drug related issues after filming, including Grease’s Jeff Conaway and WWE’s Chyna, who passed away in only April this year. These shows center on the warped idea of celebrity that we celebrate in our culture. They idolize people who at the end of the day are no different to us in their ups and downs, and explore how placing them on these pedestals often contributes to their downfall when we bore of holding them aloft.
Because of the nature of the show its sincerity can be hard to judge, especially with Tiffany “New York” Pollard and her mother Sister Patterson in the house. Sister Patterson’s demeanour throughout the show is truly terrifying and she goes from a complete lack of empathy to hysterical and aggressive denial of anything wrong with her behavior. Midway through the season Tiffany finds out she is pregnant to which Sister Patterson flatly disagrees, insisting “there is no child in [Tiffany’s] womb” and that she “would know” if there was. She meets with doctors and gets shown ultrasounds and still remains adamant there is no baby, confident in her self-professed lifelong psychic ability. It literally chilled me to the bone to find out Tiffany had a miscarriage after the show after hearing what her mother said—I am so, so scared.
I find it hard to believe any real progress can truly be made between Michael and Dina Lohan, parents of Lindsay, while they are within the same facility and made to undergo group therapy. They both remain in huge denial about their individual responsibility in ruining their children’s lives and I also question the ethics of forcing a woman to undergo joint therapy with a man who has a history of abuse towards her. Michael and Dina spend the show constantly undermining and antagonizing each other, usually for no other reason than the room has gone quiet. They both have so many issues that is clear they need extensive separate therapy, perhaps motivated by a desire to better theirs and their children’s lives instead of a paycheck based on their last name.
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Family Therapy is completely worth it for the journey of former Jackass cast member Bam Margera. After the death of his best friend Ryan Dunn in 2011, Bam’s already chaotic lifestyle bloomed into full blown alcohol and drug addiction coupled with severe depression. He enters the show day one highly intoxicated, slurring his thoughts of suicide while his mother April laments how commonplace this behavior is. His pain is earth-shatteringly heartbreaking and real and you will cry. With the help of Dr Jenn, Bam not only sobers up completely from alcohol and drugs but pinpoints the exact moment that set up his future downward spiral—his father used to take him for drives as a child down a dilapidated and spooky place called “Incinerator Road” and bang on the roof and say it was the sound of dead bodies hitting the car. Yeah. Not a huge stretch to see how that trauma settled in. Since filming ended in early 2016 Bam has remained sober.