Oprah Winfrey’s OWN network is bringing us Linsdsay Lohan as we’ve never seen her before in a “docu-series” directed by Amy Rice (a onetime writer for Aaron Sorkin’s The Newsroom and the director of By the People: The Election of Barack Obama) that traces the once-promising, still-full-of-star-potential actress’s life after rehab, as she moves back to New York City, reconnects with her family (mom Dina, dad Michael, modeling sister Ali), tries to get her career going again, and, as promised by the two-minute preview, is eventually told by Oprah herself that she should “cut the shit.”
So what does Lindsay have to offer to the casual viewer? Perhaps a cocktail of rehab clichés and Oprah, or maybe will we travel to Lohan’s hometown of Merrick, Long Island — a town that’s also spawned notorious teens like Debbie Gibson and Amy Fisher. But here’s what we have learned from Lindsay so far.
1. Lindsay appears to be ripping off the format of Intervention. Sober white subtitles on a field of black tell us that four days after getting out of rehab, Lohan is sitting down for an Oprah interview and then she’s moving back to New York to be near her family and to film a docu-series. We also get our first glance of Oprah, who tells Lohan, “I want you to win!” over a surge of emotional reality TV music. Lohan looks pretty and well rested, her hair back to red, her green eyes catlike, her voice still whiskey-soaked.
2. We watch Lohan pack her boxes and boxes of stuff, going through clothes and the detritus of her life, which is intercut with man-on-the-street interviews about how John and Jane Doe feel regarding “Lindsay Lohan.” Some people think she’s a good actress, but the majority of people think she’s a flame-out train-wreck who can’t handle life, and these insights are layered over Lohan running around, getting her stuff together to move. Which is just patently unfair: who is living their best life in the middle of a cross-country move?
3. It is hard to find an apartment: we join Lohan as she goes apartment hunting in Soho. Accompanied by NYC gal-about-town Chrissie Miller (daughter of Susan “Astrology Zone” Miller and former designer of fashion line Sophomore), Lohan is in a red ruffled dress that flies up in a Marilyn Monroe-like fashion over the city grates, and noticing this, the actress realizes that she has to change her outfit. Just like you, average viewer, she has trouble finding a place in New York and the hunt sucks; then again, she’s also rich enough to look for a place in Soho with a co-op board, so, you know, she’s doing alright.
4. Lohan is basically Eloise: during what she described as “a crazy time in her life,” Lohan lived at the Chateau Marmot, the Los Angeles hotel that’s the center of many Hollywood myths, legends, and true stories. As Lohan hunts for an apartment in New York, she is staying at… I think it’s the Tribeca Grand, perhaps? Or maybe the Soho Grand. In this case, she is not as happy with the hotel life. “When I lived in hotels in the past, I was at this point where it was okay that I was not settled and I could live with that… It’s not as easy living in a hotel now.”
5. Lohan is an addict, and she is accompanied by her sober coach, Michael Cormier. He is a gentle man with tattoos and observes, acutely, that someone who’s not an addict will receive a message in your brain that an activity is enough, that you’re satisfied. An addict won’t. He also, at one point, describes their day to day as “chaotic,” echoing the title of Britney Spears’ reality show.
6. Lohan is also accompanied by her personal assistant, a man in a three-piece suit named Matt Harrell. Harrell reels off a series of people who he’s worked for in the past: Sean Astin, Prince, Shaun White, and Steven Tyler, so he’s probably okay with the ravages of plastic surgery and excessive amounts of scarves.
7. Lohan travels to Merrick, Long Island, to reunite with her mother, Dina. In a Stars, They’re Just Like Us! moment, it turns out that Dina is letting Lohan store her stuff at her house. Lohan finds a cool red shirt (official Mean Girls merch?) that says “fetch” and reads aloud from her 2010 journal, written during her stay at Betty Ford. There’s a dog named Brooklyn there, and we get a peek at Lohan’s youngest brother, Cody. “It’ll be nice when that day comes where there’s no more talking and there’s only positive things being said,” Lohan notes.
8. Lohan is trailed by the paparazzi. In what seems to be a plot point in this series, the paps are predatory bike messenger types waiting for her to leave the hotel so they can get a photo — a job that may be, in some ways, similar to blogging about this exploitative, weirdly Oprah-approved show. But Lohan ends up stuck in her hotel room, counting what’s left of her jewelry (most of it got robbed by Alexis Neiers and “the bling ring,” the second other reality show reference), and she can’t go to an AA meeting because of the paps.
9. “Do you ever feel like a prisoner?” “Yes, all the time,” Lohan replies. Continuing the theme, a shot of Paul Schrader at The Canyons press conference in Venice (an event that Lohan was invited to attend and turned down in order to commit herself to sobriety) has the director describing himself as “a hostage of my own choosing to a very talented but unpredictable actress.”
10. Lohan loves her sister. One thing about Lindsay: it doesn’t feel that staged for “reality,” save any moments with Dina. Lohan is at her happiest watching little sister Ali walking in a show at fashion week. The interaction’s genuine. It’s much better than watching Lohan dealing with a lingerie shoot where she would be “the intellect [who] gets absorbed into the world of beauty and lingerie” or watching her haggle with her broker, although the latter yielded the question, “How could anyone get [a renter’s liability policy]? I’m not Oprah!” Lohan ends the episode with “I’m showing up, I’m sober, and I’m dealing with it.”
This season on Lindsay: Lohan looks sad at a meal with her father, Lohan yells at some people, Lohan looks sad dressed up in a Carrie costume, Oprah tells her that “the vultures are waiting to pick your bones.” Carcosa is New York, I think.