OWN has sought to surround “Lindsay” – its docu-series devoted to Lindsay Lohan – with a patina of seriousness and quality, from touting the involvement of director Amy Rice (“By The People: The Election of Barack Obama”) to preceding it with a showcase in which the channel’s namesake interviews Russell Brand about addiction. But seriously, who’s fooling whom? In the best Hollywood tradition, the Oprah Winfrey-Discovery network and the tabloid-plagued actress are using each other, the irony being that if Lohan stays on the straight and narrow, she’ll yield a show as boring as Sunday’s not-screened-in-advance premiere.
Frankly, one appreciates Lohan’s efforts to stay clean and sober. But it shouldn’t come as a newsflash to anyone – starting with Oprah – that the dramatic needs of reality TV and straightening out her life are mutually exclusive.
The show picks up last August, right after Lohan has finished her sixth stint in rehab. While alcohol, she says, has been her drug of choice, it’s clear another kind of high comes from staying in the spotlight.
The opening runs through Lohan’s spotted history of arrests and slip-ups, while incorporating the “backstage” portion of her Oprah interview, before filming the series began.
Mostly, the show is filled with meta moments. There’s the spectacle, for example, of the cameras filming Lohan being photographed by the paparazzi staking out the hotel where she’s living (they become what amount to extras throughout); or her assistant, Matt Harrell, saying the actress knows the OWN project amounts to a last chance, and thus that she won’t screw things up.
Still, it’s hard to see what screwing up would entail in this context, other than falling completely off the wagon, while Lohan’s sober coach, Michael Cormier, keeps a watchful eye on her.
So what’s left? Lindsay talking to the camera, without makeup; Lindsay visiting her mom, Dina; Lindsay trying on hats; Lindsay looking for an apartment; Lindsay having a minor meltdown at a modeling shoot.
At this rate, Linday watching paint dry is a pretty good subplot for episode three.
Frankly, “Lindsay” says far more about OWN than it does about Lohan. Having already handed a fair amount of time over to Tyler Perry, the channel continues to drift farther away from the “Oprah” brand in pursuit of hits.
That’s worked, to a point, but it also dispels the notion that Oprah’s magic touch would somewhat make broccoli TV palatable.
“The vultures are waiting to pick your bones,” Oprah tells Lohan in the “this season on” tease, as if – in this context – her channel isn’t taking a taste. In that respect, “Lindsay” represents another form of addiction, and spinning things any other way is simply putting lipstick on it.