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Broken Bonaduce

Uh-oh. Now that VH-1’s Breaking Bonaduce has reached the forgiveness-and-healing phase, I’m worried that my love for this show has been all about the base pleasures of watching a fuck-up at his most fucked-up-est. For weeks I’ve been watching the ex-Partridge Family actor turned steroid-fueled, jealous, alcoholic cur with a quiet amazement that in my head I believed was viewer empathy for a deteriorating marriage. The explosions in therapy, the Byzantine logic he spewed at his wife to explain his behavior, the binges, the weird huffing and puffing stances, and the growled threats to cameramen and producers were all spectacularly entrancing television, like a wrenching audition reel to play Max Cady in some future remake of Cape Fear. But this week we saw the wannabe bruiser back down from his darker impulses and even puddle up during a round of relaxing music-based therapy. When his family showed up to visit him in rehab, he produced a bracelet he’d made for his daughter; his wife even talked about how he’d quit blaming her for his having an affair. Of course we watch Breaking Bonaduce with the desire that the seriously unstable guy on our TV screen gets help. And now he has. It’s sweet. Really. We all want this to work for him. This is the way a shattering reality series like this is supposed to wind up. (Um, now can we get to the recap episode with never-before-seen footage?)