I watched part of OWN’s Lindsay docu-series last night with my head in my hands, fingers splayed out just enough to catch some of the action on-screen. I don’t know if this makes me a better type of person who can face the grim realities of that crime scene of a television show without going Carcosa-level mad, but there it is. I want to hedge my complicity. (Neilsen is still tallying my numbers, though, so it’s only kind of a queasy moral victory, not one that would impact the ratings.)
I just needed to solve the mystery: What are we watching when we watch Lindsay Lohan live her life on camera?
First of all, we are watching an extremely meta commentary—not in the sense that after a certain point, all the stars of reality series became seemingly self-aware at once, like a terrible SkyNet of Botox and heartbreak. No, I mean that Lindsay Lohan, since she has nothing else going on–no career to speak of, no one giving her advice outside her monster family and a growing mass of parasitic leeches, nothing to do with her time–Lindsay is now a show about the former actress fighting with the people who are making Lindsay. If Charlie Kaufman had been hired to write an updated Sunset Boulevard, he might have come up with this. Especially if Bret Easton Ellis was collaborating.
When we come in on our star this week, she’s getting the yank around about her new apartment–the $16,000 a week one, I assume–by her real estate agent, Cash. Despite her man-servant Matt giving Cash a bunch of checks, Cash keeps delaying handing the keys over to Lindsay. Which…right there. That is one of those issues you’d think could be resolved easily, if Ms. Lohan’s team had been competent in any way. Like: Don’t hand checks to a shady realtor who promises to come back with the keys later. That is just Rube-101.
Meanwhile, Lindsay is refusing to get out of bed or be filmed for the series. We get a lot of the shots of the hallway, and Lindsay’s slurred voice whining about how she has no place to live. She keeps having to move rooms in the Tribeca Grand, which does seem like it would be a bitch. With a lack of other footage, Lindsay keeps cutting to these Intervention-style cue cards that tell us how long Lindsay has been living in a hotel, which only elicits sympathy if you’ve never been to fancy SoHo.
Eventually it’s revealed that part of the reason Lindsay isn’t getting her keys is that her apartment is being paid for by the studio that is putting on Lindsay. And in a phone call, she is told that A) You should never give checks to a guy named Cash (no, duh), and B) If she refuses to appear in the series, she won’t get the apartment.
Cue the whining. And Mike White-doppelganger/live in “Sober Coach”/professional enabler telling the camera that Lindsay doesn’t like to feel “tricked.” Although an expensive apartment (is that part of the $2 million that Oprah gave her, or extra?) in exchange for going through with a previous agreement to be filmed doesn’t seem to be much of a “trick.” Maybe he meant “fetch.”
Speaking of tricks, Lindsay has dinner with her dad. He tells her how she owes her little brother a $48,000 car, because he’s already paying the rent on sister Ali’s apartment. Why Cody can’t just get a less expensive car is unclear, but Michael Lohan is the worst. These two just try to out-guilt-trip each other, with Michael putting all the blame on Lindsay’s brokeness on her mother, Dina, who (probably not) coincidentally was just arrested for a DUI. Lindsay blames Michael’s children from other families. He blames her shitty friends, including Gavin Boyle, who is her former assistant/possible Deep Web informer? (Come on, you know Jimmi Simpson pops to mind whenever you hear Gavin Boyle.)
Lindsay’s entourage is growing by the day. Now that she’s agreed to be filmed in order to get her luxe pad, she’s going to a new life and fitness coach, a woman with ridiculously buff arms who has her sit in a yoga cards while she shuffles a deck of cards like a magic trick and has Lindsay pick one. It says “Purity,” which is the universe telling Lindsay Lohan she needs to purify herself. Via fire? We don’t have time to find out. “Quick, black or white?” the woman barks in a series of increasingly inane questions that never lead anywhere.
“Uh, grey?” Lindsay, who thinks outside the bun, responds.
“Long or short? Light or dark? Chocolate or vanilla? Yes or no?” Lindsay, who approaches this with the “Do I have to?” mentality that reveals a healthy level of skepticism that we’ve yet to see on the program, quickly becomes a convert once the woman tells her she’s doing a “good job.” This is how cults are formed, I think, closing my fingers over my eyes, because gross. This woman is a con artist, as evidenced by the fact that for the rest of the episodes she’s following along with the rest of Lindsay’s detail, which now includes an incompetent, passive-aggressive assistant, a feckless sober coach, a sleazy real estate agent and sometimes a driver. (She has a habit of getting into the wrong SUV, though, so that guy is only there about half the time.)
Lindsay finally gets the keys to her new apartment, and all her new friends immediately celebrate with her in the new space, because the universe is good and black is white and up is down and hamburgers eat people.
Next week: Oprah yells at Lindsay Lohan for being Lindsay Lohan, even though that’s exactly the point.