Everyone from Rosie O’Donnell to The Fug Girls have weighed in on Lindsay, the documentary TV series on Lindsay Lohan’s post-most-recent-rehab life on Oprah Winfrey’s network, OWN. According to highly credible news source “E,” the eight-episode series (which concludes on Sunday) “hasn’t quite lived up to ratings expectations—fewer than 700,000 viewers tuned in for the premiere. However, it is the highest reated [sic] docuseries on OWN among women 18 – 34, so it is registering with a young female audience.”
I’m very torn about writing about this show! Which sounds very pretentious — it’s not like Lohan, Winfrey, or anyone else’s life is going to change by anything I write here. But I have to live with what I write, and if one day soon I see “RIP Lindsay” on Twitter, I don’t want my mind to flash first to this post. So if you’re looking for me to mock Lohan’s extensions or bralessness or inability to organize her possessions, sorry to disappoint (though it’s a free country in the comments). And even if I wasn’t worried about Lohan’s continued health, I don’t think I’d be prepared to bag on her. This show has made me care for Lohan, and to root for her. I am hopeful that that was the intention of Winfrey and of the producers of the series (who have, I just learned, also brought us Ghost Hunters and The Monster Shark Lives), as well.
And perhaps it was even Lohan’s intention? For as much as we now know that the show’s production company was underwriting Lohan’s life at the time, and was, it seems from dialogue on the show, also paying Lohan to participate, I am sure that part of her motivation to subject herself to this (besides getting to hang with Oprah, which is motive for me to do pretty much anything, am I right?) is to “set the record straight” or to allow people to see the “real” her.
And I think I have, maybe? As much as anyone can be their “real” selves when caught in the throes of addiction. Watching the show, I was surprised at Lohan’s intelligence and savvy. I related to her smirky self-awareness when confronted by a tarot wielding, kind-of sketchy seeming exercise/fitness/life coach. I was impressed by her poise and candor when speaking about her fucked up family with the ghost-writer of her mother’s book. And when she went to a kids’ school to volunteer, I saw a lovely warmth that I never would have expected from the tabloid fuckup we all know all too well.
But at the same time, I saw her inability to get up out of bed, this is like LATE in the afternoon. I listened to her make excuses about why she couldn’t go to AA meetings, similar excuses (well, not “oh no paps will get me,” but the non-famous variation thereof) I have heard from various struggling friends since, shit, 1993. I watched her avoid her assistant, who just wanted to nail down his duties. I witnessed her “sober coach” fold her sweaters instead of being allowed to do what sober coaches are supposed to do, which, SPOILER, is not FOLD SWEATERS.
There are a lot of things lined up against Lohan’s sobriety. She’s got awful parents and at least one sibling who made no bones of how Lohan’s career is basically his bottom line. She has an unstructured life, which means boredom and loneliness lurk around every corner, which is just GREAT for an addict. Her celebrity, and her reputation, attracts vultures of all types. She’s having a hard time finding work, due to her track record of unreliability. It’s possible that Oprah is getting royally pissed at her. These are all significant obstacles, not just to recovery, but to a happy life. But people have faced worse, and triumphed.
It’s easy (and fun!) to say “all she needs to do is…” whatever. Cut off her garbage parents, get up before noon, move to a small town with no paps, stop wearing janky extensions, get a real job. But, come on, if she were capable of any of these things, she might not be an addict in the first place — all this shit is intertwined in one big horrible ball.
And that, bottom line, is why, even though this show certainly didn’t do many favors to anyone who appeared in it (exception: Lohan’s assistant, Matt Harrell, seemed to be the only loyal person she had at her side, but I never saw him fawn or kiss her ass. That’s an incredibly rare and wonderful quality in an assistant, and I hope someone sees him on this show and pays him whatever he wants.), I am hopeful that it will have an impact other than car crash viewing.
Is it possible that by watching Lohan’s struggles, the families of addicts might gain a better understanding of their loved ones? Am I being silly if I think that some addicts who hear Lohan making the same excuses and rationalizations they have might realize that they need help? Is it naive think that (I can’t believe I’m saying this) as O’Donnell tweeted, Lohan, herself, might see the mirror that this show is and find a way to get her shit together? That is my wish.
It appears that the entire season of Lindsay will run beginning at 3 PM on OWN this Sunday, 4/20 (oh, stop). Obviously, you should check your local listings.