by Sonya Andrews on 10/23/2017
If you or your child grew up in the early 2000’s, you undoubtedly watched an episode or two of Disney’s hit series Even Stevens. While lead actor Shia LaBeouf went on to become a household name and internet meme sensation, other stars from the series have largely faded into obscurity.
You might remember Steven Anthony Lawrence who portrayed LaBeouf’s obnoxious-but-loveable-neighbor, Beans. After disappearing for more than a decade, Lawrence is stepping into the spotlight once more – but not to resurrect his acting career.
Lawrence has become an activist of sorts. His cause? Reality TV addiction. Claiming to have lost several years of his life to the affliction, Lawrence hopes to bring awareness to what he calls a “sweeping and unaddressed public health crisis that’s plaguing America and destroying families”. He’s spent the last six months lobbying state legislatures and medical boards to classify chronic reality TV viewing as a “disorder”.
While Lawrence’s lobbying efforts have yet to pay off, the paperwork he filed to establish his recovery center as a non-profit was recently approved. The child star began operating his home for reality television addicts in 2012. The 36-bedroom home, which sits on 12 acres of beautiful Montana countryside, is completely internet free. Televisions, cell phones and other smart devices are banned from the premises.
Instead, residents keep busy by participating in a variety of organized activities. While offerings range from horseback riding to photography to jewelry making, the most popular pass time by far is binge drinking.
Yes, at the Steven A. Lawrence Home for Recovering TV Addicts alcohol flows freely and the party never stops. On any given day there’s a boozy brunch, patio happy hour, or poolside beer pong tournament that’s filled to capacity. The estate even has an on-site brewery that’s run by residents.
It may seem paradoxical to allow any mind-altering substance in a facility meant to rehabilitate addicts. It’s a question that’s been posed to Lawrence again and again: Will reality TV addicts not just trade one vice for another? He doesn’t seem to think so. “These people are addicted to television, not alcohol. Would you prevent an alcoholic from watching TV?” he asked.
Lawrence has been ridiculed for focusing on such an obscure and seemingly inconsequential issue while the US grapples with a growing opioid epidemic, prevailing gun violence, and the uncertainty of global warming. One friend went so far as to call his mental health into question.
“It’s crazy. He created his own utopia – a party playground with luxury amenities and built in friends. It’s completely isolated from the outside world. He’s spending more and more time there. It’s all he talks about,” said a source close to Lawrence. “It’s becoming cult-like.”
However, Lawrence doesn’t put any stock in his friends’ concerns. “They think I’m crazy? People spend countless hours watching other people live their lives while they squander their own on the couch. We’ve elected a reality television star President of the United States and leader of the free world – a guy who’s famous for saying ‘you’re fired!’ It seems to me, I’m the only one that’s sane. What will it take for us to admit that this is a genuine mental health issue?”
Touché, Lawrence. Touché.