Dina Lohan describes herself as a lion(ess) protecting her cubs, but there’s no precise animal kingdom equivalent for the species known as stage mother. Lindsay Lohan herself is present in name only in this half-hour infomercial for the less-famous members of the Lohan clan, which Ma Lohan uses to humanize both herself and her brood; still, it’s a tedious exercise, joining E!’s “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” in the realm of mother-daughter bonding experiences, with limited appeal beyond, perhaps appropriately, those pesky tabloids for which the featured “talent” profess disdain.
In truth, the Lohans’ relationship with the tabs is completely symbiotic, as evidenced by Dina’s morning ritual: Rushing outside her Long Island home to scour the papers for whatever scurrilous lies and distortions they might have run about poor Lindsay, her actress daughter.
At the same time, Dina, as both manager and mom, is pushing younger daughter Ali, 14, into the limelight, and the show’s premiere follows along as Ali tries to select songs for a new album. Listening to Ali and her mother badger a record executive about the teenager’s creative vision provides unintended comedy, representing E!’s best hope of transforming “Living Lohan” into a guilty pleasure, if not for the reasons Dina (who doubles as a producer) would doubtless like.
Other than that, though, the most salient aspect of the series is that it’s profoundly boring, wringing out sprinkles of drama as best it can. Ali signs autographs and interviews a producer while Dina sweats the details. Along the way, Dina’s mother and youngest son, 11-year-old Cody, share what it’s like to be part of such an under-the-microscope family, but the storytelling has all the sizzle of visiting someone’s house and having them trot out homemovies of the kids after dinner.
Inasmuch as the Lohans live under perpetual scrutiny from TMZ and its ilk, there’s undeniable logic in using the media to launch a kind of defense, and attention-seeking E! was savvy enough to oblige, pairing the show with an equally tab-friendly reality concept featuring Denise Richards. What emerges from a viewing standpoint, however, is another catchy, alliterative title in search of an actual TV program — one that delivers less insight into what makes the Lohans run than Tracey Ullman’s spoof on her new Showtime series.
Imitation, in this case, really is the sincerest form of television.