After a couple of hopeful weeks I now despondently watch Sex Rehab.

Kari Ann, as we guessed when we were filming the show, would be the unwitting star. A post-modern Mildred Pierce.  The care and therapy I received whilst at The Pasadena Recovery Center was outstanding.  I am sad, however,  that the work most of us committed to has taken a back seat to Kari Ann’s crude camera hogging. Using Kari Anne as the narrative spine of the show may be VH1’s solution for increasing viewing figures but sadly it isn’t working-viewing figures have plummeted.

Simply, Kari Ann is not a very attractive TV personality.  Though I don’t personally dislike her it comes as no great surprise that once viewers realized they were watching the ‘Kari Ann Show’ they began flipping channels.

Viewers may return after Oprah airs the Sex Rehab special on Monday but frankly, I doubt it.   The damage has been done.

From my perspective as a film maker there are fundamental structural problems with the show.

Firstly, the ‘narrative’ of sex addiction is nothing like drug addiction. Alcoholics/Drug addicts commit to be abstinent from mind-altering substances. The ensuing drama is simple: Will they? Wont they? Most people understand the simple concept of not taking a drink or a drug. Most people do not understand, however, the concept of not having sex or sex addiction. Why should they?

Treatment for sex addiction often starts with a period of abstinence from all sexual activity after which the sex addict can then healthily re-engage with his or her sexuality. The cure for sex addiction therefore is: sex.  (As in the cure for overeating/anorexia etc. is: food.)  When we tell our stories as sex addicts we seek to define our unique sexual agenda-where our lives have become unmanageable and we are now powerless over our destructive sex conduct. Example: my ‘triggers’ includes straight identified men, chronic masturbation, pornography, Internet hook up sites and intrigue. These triggers are wildly different from Phil, Amber, Kendra and Jennie.

In Celebrity Drug Rehab each story has one extraordinary similarity: Pitiful and incomprehensible demoralization due to the excessive use of drink and drugs forces a life or death choice upon each drug addict. In Sex Rehab we all have extraordinary differences. This uniqueness simply cannot be explored adequately nor make great TV in the format as presented. We merely get a tiny glimpse into each character never fully understanding the individual addiction nor the solution.

If, say, the first episode of Sex Rehab had been an hour and half long rather than a TV hour of 43 minutes we might have had an opportunity to fully ‘know’ and engage with each patient. Allowing more time at the beginning of the series for each character to emerge might have lent a truer perspective on the patients, their unique addiction and their struggle. Subsequently our understanding, sympathy and enjoyment would grow only deeper as the weeks past-regardless of Karin Ann’s antics.

The other reason Sex Rehab may be losing it’s audience is the subject itself.  Modern American audiences may not be ready to accept a high concept reality show/documentary that so directly and baldly challenges our notion of healthy sexuality.  From what I read on Twitter etc. many are baffled, and remain so, by the very idea of sex addiction. Baffled by the notion of an ‘intimacy disorder’, by retraumatization, by sexualized anger etc. etc.

Sex is perhaps the only pleasure left to many, many young people who find themselves demoralized,  unemployed, foreclosed upon-with little to look forward to. The complicated message that Sex Rehab seeks to explore, but ultimately fails, may be perceived as challenging our personal ideas of decency-in as much as it may reinforce a Christian ethic upon a VH1 audience that has long committed to a much freer sexual code of conduct.

By dumbing down the show Sex Rehab VH1 have done a terrible disservice to sex addiction and those of us who suffer from it.