OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network
Who is Lindsay Lohan? She could be the amazing actress we love from Mean Girls and The Parent Trap. Or she may be the Tara Reid-esque has-been who will do anything to cover immense debt. Or maybe she’s the clean, composed, grateful recovering addict we met in Oprah Winfrey’s infamous interview. You would think the OWN show Lindsay would shed some light on the real Lindsay. Spoiler alert: it does not. The show has three conflicting ideologies. There’s Lohan’s attempt to convey she’s changed, sober, and a bankable star. There’s Oprah trying to deliver an on-brand inspirational story of an addict coming clean and finding love and light. Then there are the show’s producers who want to get some ratings and border on Bravo style editing and drama. Crossing over into reality TV could be the kiss of death or the key to a career resurgence. So does the series help or hurt Lindsay?
How It Helps
The show has helped Lohan by making her sympathetic, interesting, and relevant. The producers of the show made questionable choices like showing man on the street interviews of people trashing her. So the Lindsay vs. the Producers debate seems more nuanced than just a sign she’s unreliable. Lohan even had a candid conversation with a friend about reality television and the narrative of the show. This made her seem savvy, focused, and business-oriented. Her financial struggles are a big issue on the show. You see her surrounded by paparazzi and spending money on assistants and hotel rooms one minute, then you see her begging producers to release checks for her apartment and working for free the next. Her questionable relationship with her parents shows she did not receive much guidance and some of her addiction, financial woes, and diva behavior are enabled by Michael and Dina Lohan. It's sad to think someone so bankable would have this many struggles. Similar to Kathy Griffin’s My Life on the D-List, the show catches Lindsay getting snubbed by Miley Cyrus, doing photo shoots for Asian imprints of magazines, and even getting manipulated by a low-rent model producer. This falling star storyline makes audiences want her to succeed. Also, the success of the show makes her relevant outside of tabloid gossip.
How It Hurts
The series does not do much to change the unreliable Lohan storyline. Outside of issues with the production crew, there are multiple cases of Lohan showing up obscenely late for work. The now infamous shoot for Elle Indonesia has Lindsay late multiple times and pushing production which ultimately costs money. The series seems less like a series and more like salvaged footage. Lindsay took breaks from filming and did not let them film her outside New York City… this is not showcasing cooperation. The show starts to feel like an expose as it catches Lindsay in lies, shows her around alcohol, and captures audio recorded while she’s miked. She stays up late and has diva tantrums. Does this mean she’s using? Her questionable relationship with her assistant, who signed a non-disclosure agreement, also raises questions. Her life coach questions her sobriety on camera. By the end of the series her credibility is debatable at best.
The show will get Lohan some buzz and notoriety. It will also reinvigorate some dormant fans. However, ultimately, it does not show her as dependable or trustworthy. Her being late for any production will not reduce concerns of how much it will cost to employ her. Ironically, had she done an unabashedly real reality show where she shared everything good and bad she could have won over everyone. An addict struggling with drinking and drug use is sympathetic. But given the limited footage you question what’s real and what’s acting. After all, she is one of the most talented actors of her generation.