Four days after Lindsay Lohan left rehab last summer (her sixth stay in six years), she started shooting a reality show for the Oprah Winfrey Network; the eight-episode series, “Lindsay,” premiered Sunday night. Who thought this was a good idea?
Lots of people, apparently. Oprah’s network certainly needs the viewers and Lohan needs people to think her life isn’t a total trainwreck anymore. Presumably, the goal is to mutually help each other, but is it really smart to put an addict in front of a camera at all times?
Yeah, we know the answer, too. As a result, watching the “Lindsay” debut just felt wrong. Lohan is clearly still very troubled, and even though every celebrity docu-series is somewhat voyeuristic, this one was flat out sad and absolutely no fun. Most of the premiere involved Lohan, accompanied by a sober coach and personal assistant, talking to the cameras about this new transitional phase in her life and how much she’s changed; Lohan getting in and out of giant chauffeured SUVs as she searches for a new apartment in New York; and Lohan bailing on various scheduled commitments.
If you couldn’t stomach it, here are the five most upsetting moments in the hour-long premiere.
1) The flashbacks to Lohan’s glory days.
For the last several years, most photos of Lohan show the actress looking miserable, usually on her way to court or after she’s been caught in some sort of trouble. That’s why it’s heartbreaking to flash back to Lohan’s earlier days. In the beginning of the episode there’s a short clip of adorable 12-year-old Lohan on the red carpet for the premiere of “The Parent Trap” remake, her first big movie, beaming with happiness as she answers questions about playing twins.Then we see Lohan grinning for the cameras at the “Freaky Friday” debut in 2003 (box office gross: $160 million) and later, posing for photos for her star turn in “Mean Girls” in 2004. Obviously, it all went downhill from there: DUI convictions, arrests, probation, violation of probation, theft charges, etc. Being reminded of her once-promising future is just sad.
2) Lohan family time
The main storyline of the premiere is that Lohan is moving from Los Angeles to New York to make a fresh start and live closer to her family. After shipping a massive amount of boxes to her mother’s house on Long Island, Lohan pays a visit to go through some of the things, including a journal from her time at the Betty Ford rehab clinic. She reads some passages out loud, including one about being upset that her mother, Dina, was barred from visiting. Having been bombarded with headlines about the highly dysfunctional Lohan family relationships, it’s all way too invasive.
The saddest moment? Seeing Lohan hug her younger brother and tell her family she loves them in a feel-good moment that feels way too forced — underscored by the microphone pack clipped on the back of Lohan’s dress, a depressing visual reminder that they’re all playing for the cameras.
3) Lohan promising she’s changed her unreliable ways, then bailing on everything
Though Lohan swears she’s become a different person post-rehab, she bails at least three different times on various planned commitments through the course of the episode, making life difficult for others. Case in point: Lohan decides she’s too stressed out to fly to the Venice Film Festival to promote her latest film, “The Canyons,” (the subject of that fascinating “Here is What Happens When You Cast Lindsay Lohan in Your Movie” NYT article) and cancels her trip. The director, Paul Schrader, is blunt with the crowd in Venice. “Today I am a free man,” he says dramatically. For the last 16 months, “I have been a hostage of my own choosing by a very talented but unpredictable actress, and she was supposed to be here today. She said she would be, but she’s not.”
Ouch. Later, Lohan has signed on to appear in a “short film” to promote a lingerie brand (side note: what?) because she’s friends with the producers. Only once she finds out they want her to be involved in actual scenes with dialogue rather than a photoshoot, she angrily decides to drop out. The reason? They lied to her about her role, and she doesn’t trust liars. She acknowledges that she only agreed just so she could be on a set again — but that environment wasn’t good for her “sobriety or sanity.”
4) The people who have to deal with her
Matt, Lohan’s beleaguered personal assistant, has to keep up with her demands, erratic behavior, and general bad mood when she’s been living in a hotel for a month because she can’t find an apartment in New York. (By the way, Matt tells the camera that before Lindsay, he worked as an assistant to Sean Astin, Prince, Shaun White and Steven Tyler. Someone get this man his own show!) Lohan also chews out the real estate broker, Cash, for not finding her an apartment — especially when one building insists she have a $10 million rental insurance policy, because obviously that’s Cash’s fault. Her sober coach, Michael, is the most patient, even when Lohan decides she doesn’t want to go to an AA meeting because of the dozens of paparazzi staked outside her hotel.
5) Oprah’s role in all of this
You know what, Oprah? We appreciate all you’ve done for a lot of other people, but it’s hard to have respect for you after seeing this show.
We see Oprah sitting down with Lohan at the beginning of the episode, grilling her on what she wants out of the experience. “Just to be honest and open and you know, just to be me,” Lohan says. Oprah replies that’s good, and just get ready, because she’s ready to call Lohan out on any bad behavior or lies throughout production. Lohan eagerly nods, and it’s sad because she so clearly wants approval from one stable adult in her life. Oprah is beyond condescending about it. “I’ll let you change into your pretty little dress,” Oprah says flippantly after their pre-interview chat, walking out of the room so Lohan can get ready for the day.
Ugh. Come on Oprah, you need Lohan for the ratings, just like she needs you — don’t act like you’re doing her some big favor by allowing her to grace the presence of your network.