Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A&E's 'Obsessed'

While most reality TV focuses on mindless chatter ('The Hills'), hair-pulling cat fights ('Real Housewives') and drunken debauchery ('Jersey Shore'), networks like A&E are paving the way for more educational reality shows that are actually helping Americans.

A&E has capitalized on "intervention" programming which includes unscripted docu-series like 'Hoarders,' 'Intervention' and 'Obsessed.' These shows follow real Americans whose anxieties and addictions have taken control of their lives, making them prisoners of their behaviors. As the individual's families plot a total intervention -- with the help of a TV crew -- the heart-wrenching road to recovery is all captured on film as millions of voyeurs peer into these strangers' lives while they attempt to face their demons. Viewers watch as the person struggles to face their addiction with the help of interventionists and therapy in hopes of turning their lives around. But do these shows actually work once the cameras stop rolling?

Psychologist Shana Doronn, who is a veteran therapist on 'Obsessed,' tells PopEater the road to recovery is a "lifelong process," adding that continued therapy is "is crucial ... and all the therapists strive to keep therapy going after the cameras stop."

Doronn even offered free therapy sessions -- the woman had no insurance or a job -- to one of the show's subjects because she knew the client needed it. She credits continued support as a contributing factor to the 'Obsessed' clients high recovery rates.

This recovery success appears to hold true for the network's other shows. In a recent article, The Daily Beast points out an impressive fact, noting that "of the 161 addicts that have appeared on A&E's show 'Intervention' in the past five years, 130 are sober today ... the 71 percent recovery rate is, by any standard, astonishingly high."

MTV tried tapping into a similar market with 'Gone Too Far.' DJ AM (born Adam Goldstein) spent his last few months filming the series, in which he and concerned families staged interventions for young drug abusers. Goldstein had battled a drug addiction for years and, in a tragic twist of fate, the celebrity spinner died of an accidental drug overdose before the show aired its first episode. MTV eventually aired the episodes -- perhaps as a cautionary tale that could encourage others to seek treatment.

The eye-opening tale is just another reason why Doronn is continuing her stint on A&E's 'Obsessed.'

"I've received e-mails from all over the country from people thanking me for bringing real issues to TV that are handled with such sensitivity and care," she says. "My hope is that these shows motivate people to seek help as well as provide valuable information about recovery."

'Obsessed' airs Mondays on A&E at 10PM EST

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