Breaking Bonaduce (Courtesy Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)
Breaking Bonaduce is an American reality series on VH1 that starred former child actor Danny Bonaduce and his wife Gretchen. The series premiered in September 2005 and ended in December 2006.
The series focuses on the issues and events that have led Bonaduce to consider his life a "car crash". Over the course of filming, Bonaduce falls off the wagon, begins taking steroids, and then tries to kill himself. He also attempts to save his faltering marriage by attending couple's counseling with his wife, Gretchen, who is ready to file for divorce due to Bonaduce's dangerous antics.
In the United Kingdom, the series is known as My Reality TV Breakdown. Throughout Latin America, it is known as Destrozando a Bonaduce which translates as Destroying Bonaduce.
This show is produced by 3Ball Productions and directed by Mark Jacobs.
The show has been both celebrated and criticized for making light of Bonaduce's mounting misfortunes. A review in Variety magazine said, "...It's hard to imagine a shower long enough to wash away the experience of simply viewing the show, much less having produced, programmed or participated in it."
"Danny Had an Affair"
The Bonaduces have turned to couples therapy to begin repairing the damage caused by an infidelity. The discussions are not one-sided, however, as it appears Gretchen's lack of a sex drive 'pushed' Danny into the arms of another woman. At this fragile point in their relationship, Danny Bonaduce, the ex-child star, is booked to perform stand-up at The Palms Casino in Las Vegas. This raises dangerous stakes. Can a recovering alcoholic and drug abuser who has just cheated on his wife be trusted to behave 'unsupervised' in Sin City? Danny's answer is to live as dangerously as possible to determine if he's capable of flirting with disaster without consummation. Danny proves to be worthy of the challenge, pulling himself out of a world of flowing booze and receptive women to drive home to his wife in the middle of the night.
Things appear to be on the mend in the Bonaduce household as the family is functioning normally once again. But beneath the surface, trouble is brewing. Danny has entered a world of physical fitness and body-sculpting as a 'positive' substitute for his propensity toward destructive behavior. He has even become a licensed personal trainer. However, Danny finds himself falling back into old habits. By taking on only young, pretty women as clients, and experimenting with anabolic steroids, Danny is once again showing an inability to get out of his own way.
It doesn't take Dr. Garry long to realize that Danny has a problem with anger. In fact, it's clear that he runs, works out and even takes karate in an effort to channel some of his excess angst. But during a therapy session, when Gretchen reveals a secret about an innocent, funny photo she's taken with a male member of her band, Danny's anger boils over and he storms out of the session. In the coming days, Danny struggles to maintain a normal routine, all the while knowing he will confront this guy at Gretchen's next gig. Dr. Garry warns him that any aggressive move will only serve to push Gretchen further away. However, on the night of the band's next performance, in front of a packed house, Danny decides to pull the guy off the stage in the middle of a set and verbally assault him. Ultimately, his inability to exercise some semblance of self-control leaves even Danny wondering if his marriage is headed for serious trouble.
"No Time for Love"
Danny's past behavior has forced Gretchen to build a wall around herself that prevents them from achieving any real intimacy. She keeps herself very busy with the kids, the house, errands and the plans for her own 40th birthday party. Danny struggles to cope with Gretchen's cold and distant demeanor until his fear and pain send him off the wagon and into a fit of binge drinking and destructive behavior. On the night of Gretchen's all-girl slumber party, Danny decides to go out with friends and drink until he blacks out. But when he finds out that male strippers are on the guest list for Gretchen's party, Danny demands a halt to production of the show until he can get his wife on the phone to discuss the strippers. As Danny is stewing, the show fades to black ... to be continued.
"Out of Control"
When we left Danny on the streets of Hollywood, he was ringing Gretchen's cell phone off the hook trying to warn her against having male strippers at her 40th birthday. When he finally gets her on the phone, she refuses to allow him to dictate what she can and can't do at her own party. In a huff, Gretchen practically hangs up on him. Moments later Danny has a violent outburst of volcanic proportions. In a rage, he begins menacing the crew of the production, threatening to go to the party and assault people if the strippers are allowed to perform. After several hours of erratic and violent behavior, Danny eventually breaks down in tears, confessing that he's completely lost control of his mind and his life. Later that evening, in a cry for help, Danny slashes his wrists. The next day, in a final act of madness, Danny accuses Dr. Garry of conspiring with Gretchen against him.
"Leaving Los Angeles"
As Danny spends another night drinking himself to sleep, Gretchen sneaks off to therapy looking for answers. She reveals to Dr. Garry that the drinking, steroids, and painkillers have taken control of Danny and her house has turned upside down. Dr. Garry confronts Danny off camera and demands that he check into rehab. Danny reluctantly agrees. However, before entering, he decides to tattoo his first day of sobriety onto his arm as a gesture of his commitment to get well. Danny explains to his children that he must go away to get well, but loves them and will return. As Gretchen drives away from the rehab center, leaving Danny standing alone in front of the detox center, they both have expressions of impending doom.
In the first weeks of treatment, the rehab team attempts to get Danny to a healthier place both physically and mentally. Breathing exercises, yoga, spiritual-counseling - anything to get him to slow his mind down. But expectedly, Danny is resisting the program. Fits and tantrums stunt his early progress. Eventually, Danny begins to warm up to some of their more `new age' methods and he attempts to play nice. But when the facility decides it's time to bring Gretchen in for a couples exercise, Danny becomes enraged with Gretchen's lack of trust in him and threatens to leave rehab.
When we last saw Danny, he was storming away from a couples exercise and threatening to leave rehab. Danny doesn't want to be at rehab, and if Gretchen isn't going to trust him regardless of what he does, why stay? Gretchen begs him to stay for the sake of their marriage. Her reinforcement of their commitment sparks a change in Danny. In the coming weeks, he begins to show real signs of progress. Eventually, the rehab staff feels he's ready to see his children. This comes not a moment too soon for Isabella, who's been acting up and acting out because of how much she misses her daddy. When the two see each other for the first time in weeks, Danny vows that he will never leave her for thirty days again. And to Gretchen, he makes a solemn vow to become a better husband and father.
After 30 days of drug and alcohol rehabilitation, Danny seems like a new man. He's sober, reflective, and feeling equipped to return home. But, for the first time in months, Danny is in a position to examine his marriage with a clear eye. He concludes that at its core, their relationship is a union between two very different people with conflicting romantic and sexual appetites. Coupled with his already fragile state of mind, this revelation leads Danny to portend troubled waters ahead.
"Party of One"
Danny and Gretchen are both struggling to understand the other's language of love. Danny wants overt, passionate gestures while Gretchen feels silly when romance gets sappy. At one point, Gretchen cavalierly chides him that maybe he should `be with someone else.' This seemingly minor infraction leads to an exaggerated reaction, and Danny decides to move out.
"Danny's from Venus"
On the verge of moving out of his home and possibly leaving his wife, Danny realizes that he has a great life worth keeping, but the small thing that's missing is just so important. Dr. Garry tries to get through to him one last time that Gretchen is not the woman Danny wants her to be. Still unconvinced, Danny has high hopes for his Father's Day present. But true to form, Gretchen botches the romantic element again. After a bout of anger, Danny finally realizes that Gretchen can't speak his language, and he can't ask her to. Will they now live happily ever after?
"El Gringo Loco"
At the onset of season two, we see the impact that 'Breaking Bonaduce' has had on Danny and Gretchen's lives. In fact, the show is successful enough to get international distribution. So in order to keep the momentum moving forward, Danny agrees to help promote the show in Mexico City. On his trip, he visits a dubbing house where 'Breaking Bonaduce is being translated into Spanish. But because Danny has never seen the show before, after viewing an episode from last season in which Gretchen has strippers at her birthday party, Danny goes into a tailspin.
Danny begins acting manic and belligerent in reaction to a season one episode he viewed for the first time in Mexico. Because of this, Dr. Garry refuses to continue therapy with him and Gretchen decides to kick him out of the house. Danny is spiraling down fast. As he hits rock bottom, his AA group stages an intervention, accusing him of relapse behavior. Danny's sponsor Jason forces him to take a drug test and refuses to leave his side for 72 hours. During that time, Danny vents his frustrations to his consoling friend while Gretchen does her best to calm her concerned children.
"Honorary Degrees of Separation"
Danny has been out of the house for a while when he gets the news that he's been awarded 'Harvard Lampoon's Man of the Year'. Ironically enough, Valentine's Day is his first opportunity to ask Gretchen to come with him to Boston despite' the troubles they've been having. Gretchen has mixed emotions, but eventually agrees. Initially, things are going well at Harvard. In fact, the Bonaduces' appear to be on a course for reconciliation. That is until Gretchen refuses to sleep with Danny the night he accepts his award. This sends him into a tirade that leaves Gretchen feeling like her only option is to file for divorce.
Back in Los Angeles, Danny is as frightened as he's ever been that he's going to lose his family because of his behavior. This sobering thought leads him back to his MD Psychiatrist to get his medication levels checked and updated. But even with Danny's attempts to manage his bi-polar episodes, Gretchen is still one step from filing divorce papers. Danny decides his only option is to work his way back into her good graces by easing her parental duties, and spending some much needed time with his children.
Gretchen has seen steady progress in Danny over the past few weeks. So she offers him a probationary period back in the house, provided he's willing to stay in their guest room. Danny is concerned about how this will look to his kids. Right on cue, after only a few nights, Isabella accuses him of becoming soft. Thrown by this, Danny decides to get in the boxing ring with a heavyweight contender just to prove to himself that he hasn't become weak. Unfortunately, even though the heavyweight beats him silly, his dissatisfaction with the guest room grows stronger. With nowhere to turn, Danny begins a search for God.
"Stir Crazy for You"
Danny is not happy about being in the guest room and is beginning to go stir crazy in his little cell. At the same time, he knows, ultimately, he's made his bed. So Danny continues his parental duties, and even agrees to baby-sit while Gretchen has a ladies night out, all in hopes of getting out of the guestroom. A further visit to their pastor for a re-affirmation of their love of God and each other finally brings Danny and Gretchen back together.
"The Mother of All Daddies"
Danny has re-assumed his position as husband and father, and things appear to be quiet and back to normal. However, Gretchen's band is scheduled to play another gig, and discussions resurface about Danny's angry behavior the last time she performed. It's agreed that Danny still harbors many of the behaviors his abusive father has imparted to him. In an effort to gain some sense of closure, Danny visits his father's grave and then a psychic to see if there's any value in communication into the great beyond. What Danny learns from the psychic spooks him, leading him into temptation to drink at Gretchen's gig.
Danny is convinced that the only thing that can save him is God so he dives head first into the church, leaving all his friends and loved ones to wonder, is this real, or is this desperation.