Good Television: Battling to Maintain Integrity on Reality TV

When Rod McLachlan's smart, passionate play Good Television begins in the offices of Rehabilitation, a cable show that bears a strong resemblance to A&E's Intervention, you may draw a breath, preparing for an excoriation of the very existence of that long-running cautionary series. What you get is fortunately very different—the story of Connie Cuellar (Kelly McAndrew), a former therapist and "rock star" field producer of the show who tries valiantly to maintain its standards.

In addition to a double workload, Connie weathers a blithe, airy boss on her way to a new gig (wittily embodied by Talia Balsam), a less-experienced new boss, and a nepotistically hired intern-turned-associate-producer. They've put pressure on her to make an episode about Clemmy (John Magaro), an attractive boy who isn't a good candidate since he seems unlikely to accept treatment.

The ensuing catastrophe doesn't take place because filming junkies for TV is unethical—"Families trade privacy for treatment they could never afford. The centers trade their treatment for free national exposure," she explains—but because Connie alone cares deeply about the outcome for both addicts and audiences, and she knows how to handle both. But when integrity is lost, McLachlan shows us, all is lost.

 
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