VH1’s “Sex Rehab” Takes An Unblinking Look At The Sad Lives Of Sex Addicts

If you say the words “sex addiction,” you might get a laugh. The mere thought of someone who is “addicted” to sex is more likely to prompt nervous giggling than nodding compassion. Why? Well, the idea does seem pretty silly — on the surface. Addicted to sex? It sounds more like someone can’t keep their d**k in their pants. The reality of sexual addiction, though, isn’t so funny, not, at least, according to VH1’s new show, “Sex Rehab with Dr. Drew.” The show is an inevitable consequence of the Dr. Drew Pinsky-helmed series that preceded it: “Celebrity Rehab” and “Sober House.” After focusing on performers who abuse crack, coke, crystal, speed, pot, and pills, it’s only natural that the prying reality TV lens would focus on celebrities who are addicted to sex. The titillating phenomenon has scored headlines, as David Duchovny, Russell Brand, and Eric Benet having made public their sex addictions.

Not surprisingly, half of the series’ stars, all women, have worked as sex workers in some capacity. Two of the women, Kendra Jade and Penny Flame, are or were adult performers. Amber Smith appeared in Playboy and traded sex for drugs. Kari Ann Peniche starred in the McSteamy sex tape. The men are somewhat different, but no less compulsive. Jamie Lovett talks about masturbating until he hurts himself. Duncan Roy’s problem started in prison. Nobody’s story is pretty — or funny.

By exposing the true stories of sexual addiction, viewers see that the addiction is real, and the story behind the addiction is heartbreaking. Peniche talks about being raped multiple times throughout her life, including being molested as a child. With a zombie-like stare, she attempts to convince Dr. Drew that none of the rapes had much of an effect on her. What becomes increasingly clear is that sexual addiction isn’t the problem, the problem is what the sexual addiction is trying to mask. And that story doesn’t have a Hollywood happy ending.