Oprah wants Lindsay Lohan to win. I do, too.
But as I watched Sunday’s debut of the eight-episode series documenting Lindsay’s recovery, I felt sad. And guilty. Reality TV probably isn’t the best idea for someone fresh out of rehab. But last summer, less than a week after her 90-day stay at Cliffside Malibu (did you catch the rehab center’s commercials during the show?), Lindsay started shooting this docu-series for the Oprah Winfrey Network.
Back then, during a one-on-one interview, Oprah encouraged the starlet to reconsider a trip to Europe. The “playground for fun and pleasure” may not be the best decision, is how she put it. But looking at the show — the cameras and Lindsay’s mounting anxiety — I wonder if diving into reality TV is a good choice either.
Throughout the episode she talks about inner peace and how chaos doesn’t affect her anymore. But the show tells a different story. She’s just so fragile.
Lindsay is in the middle of moving from L.A. to New York. For some reason, she sent all of her belongings east, even though she doesn’t have a home yet. She’s living out of a hotel. And paparazzi are everywhere. These flashing lights are unfortunately part of celebrity. But at one point, she bails out on an AA meeting because she just can’t handle the cameras following her. No one objects. Not even the sobriety coach. Knowing she’s gone to six rehabs in six years, it’s hard to watch her skip a meeting over the paps.
But I didn't change the channel. I want to see the change, to catch a glimpse of the freckle-faced, charismatic sweetheart who stole my heart in “The Parent Trap.”
Her angst is overwhelming. She’s been living out of boxes for a month. It takes time to find an apartment under any circumstances, but she’s already emotionally worn.
There’s a lot, big and small, Lindsay can’t seem to handle. Like going to the Venice Film Festival because everyone will want to talk about rehab. She’s not ready for that. Yet, here we are, tuned into a show directly plugged into her every move post treatment. Irony, much?
And when she shows up for a cameo in a short film to promote a lingerie line for friends, she goes into complete meltdown mode when things don’t go exactly as planned. She pulls out of the project. It would have compromised her sanity and sobriety, she says. But New York Fashion Week? She can do that. I understand her sister was walking the runway. It was actually a sweet moment, to see her so proud. But knowing she skipped AA because of cameras, it breaks your heart a little bit.
“Living with integrity and living in control of my own self — that’s the life that I want now,” she says. I hope she gets it. From the promos for the rest of the series (airing at 9 p.m. Sundays), we know her sobriety will be questioned and she will have a showdown with Oprah. We know that ads for Cliffside Malibu will air like an infomercial, because good intentions aside, this show is a moneymaker.
But what I hope gets addressed is something comedian Russell Brand said in an interview about addiction (heroin was his vice) with Oprah that aired just before Lindsay’s glossy series.
“I look to solve inner problems with external things,” he says. “I’ll use anything to stop myself feeling. And as a little kid I was very lonely, very isolated and confused. And anything that could temporarily relieve that, I was very grateful for.
“When I got clean 11 years ago I realized that the reason that I was taking drugs was to deal with those emotional issues. And once you stop, when you take drugs out of the equation, those issues remain.”
She may be sober, but Lindsay still has issues to tackle. Not for ratings, not for her last shot at success. But for herself, for her life. Otherwise she will be trading one addiction for another. And right now, it looks like she is addicted to the drama for the cameras. Since we’re all glued to our screens, tweeting every scene, I can’t help but wonder if we are too.