Jenny McCarthy Takes On Catholicism In 'Bad Habits'
McCarthy hides nothing.
She admits that she wet her bed until she was 10 years old out of fear that Satan would drag her to hell at night. She taped a picture of Cyndi Lauper’s face over her Jesus poster so that “his baby blue eyes” would not judge her as she made out with her boyfriend.
The first half of the book quickly goes from story to story, sharing more hilarious moments of how McCarthy’s childlike curiosity morphs into adolescent rebellion, all in the context of Catholicism.
Talking about religion in such an unabashed way is tough even for someone as open as McCarthy. She gives her readers brief breaths of self-reflection when her stories start to cross over from eye-opening to jaw-dropping.
“What Catholicism – or any religion for that matter – doesn’t realize is that children’s minds will go to great lengths to try to understand what they are being taught, even when taught poorly."
But when McCarthy leaves Chicago to move to Los Angeles, she leaves the religious talk behind with her childhood home.
The second half of “Bad Habits” feels as if she handpicked chapters from her past books and slapped them together. McCarthy even acknowledges the overlap.
"(For those of you who read this story in a previous book, I apologize, but it’s important and in context to include it in this book too.)"
The explanation never comes around.
Instead, McCarthy takes us on a 10-chapter long hallucination that includes naked Playmates on ecstasy and her pregnancy perceived as a disability to her Hollywood career. To be fair, the story of how she goes into the Pope’s closet (yes, the closet belonging to the leader of the Roman Catholic Church) like a zealous groupie is pretty entertaining and brings back the religious angle for a moment.
Only in the last two chapters does religion fully come back into the conversation though, but the overly preachy tones in the book's final moments create this weird meta-moment of “Wait, I am learning about religious tolerance from Jenny McCarthy.”
But by then, the book is done. Oh well.
McCarthy’s strength is in her ability to write with wit and without shame about the questionable religious moments in her life. Once she starts teaching her lessons-learned, the book’s premise as a lighthearted read is noticeably missed.
After all, it’s hard to take McCarthy’s final declaration, “The world needs more love,” as a serious bookend lesson when she opens her book with how she discovered her love of not wearing underwear during mass.