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Review: Lohan reality series surprisingly watchable

By Gene Kosowan     Apr 21, 2014 in Entertainment
New York - From documenting a life adjustment out of rehab to revealing a miscarriage in the finale, the OWN network series chronicling the struggles of troubled actress Lindsay Lohan deserves top marks for its warts-and-all portrayal.
What the series, which wrapped its first season on Sunday, did right was avoid any high-gloss window-dressing touch-ups of her predicament. Shot in a documentary style, the show, Lindsay, offered no fancy teaser intros, no garrulous host voiceovers and no visual embellishments, instead using captions to outline the drama including a progress report each episode counting the days Lohan had been out of rehab.
The first season of the series was delivered in a refreshingly understated format, with Lohan providing a narrative on her headspace as she deals with her conflicts, both internal and external, with an articulation that would put any Kardashian to shame.
That's not to say she's about to garner any sympathy over her plight, given that the actress, who garnered serious acclaim in such movies as Mean Girls and Freaky Friday before her downfall into a pit of alcohol and drug abuse, was paid $2 million to star in the Oprah Winfrey-produced series. Her Hollywood-fueled state of privilege isn't going to win any brownie points among detractors who will quickly state that most addicts don't exactly have the same access to resources Lohan enjoys in her battle to clean herself up. And at times reactions to situations surrounding her fight to get an apartment and feuds with production crew over shooting schedules can make for annoying-eyeball-rolling experiences.
But there's some valuable life lessons here to which most Joe and Jane Sixpack can relate, especially if you take her supportive entourage and those sequences surrounding her jetsetting promo appearances out of the equation. The neutrality of the camera lens avoids the temptation to pity the star, who is forced to use her own judgment to determine which life decisions will benefit her. It also refrains from visual vilification when some of those decisions prove potentially harmful to her career, and more importantly, her life.
At times, she comes across as spoiled, at other times, compassionate about her family and staff, whom she sometimes puts through hell, in particular her long-suffering personal assistant who constantly jumps through hoops to ensure some semblance of stability for his boss. And while the jury may be out on whether many of the feelings and comments she expresses are genuine, the series is full of scenes that hardly seem set up. A court-ordered community service gig in a kindergarten class shows she's apparently quite good with kids, while another segment has her confronting her philandering father over his own priorities. Believe it or not, Lohan appears to have some principles.
Her lack of accountability still dogs her, however, whether it be jamming out of a model shoot because of a minor script change or denying an altercation took place with Paris Hilton's brother in Miami. But her anger over a sexual inventory list made public by the tabloids shows genuine concern, not only for herself, but for all the friends and families who may have been hurt as a result of that muckraking.
"The fact that that happened was not only humiliating, but also just mean," said Lohan in one poignant moment. "It's mean-spirited for someone to do that. That is a desperate human being and I hope they find some peace."
And the miscarriage finale fills in the gaps over her absence from production shoots that had her director wringing her hands in frustration in previous episodes.
"Mentally, that messes with you," said Lohan in the finale. "Watching this series, I just know how I felt at that moment and I can relate to that girl, which sounds kind of crazy, but I'm like, 'Oh my god, this is really sad. Who's helping her?'"
Lindsay isn't likely to win very many fans over, and may have the anti-Lilo contingent screaming hypocrisy, but the shooting style and editing deftly scrapes the candy-coated celebrity veneer off the subject matter which shows a real person still struggling to deal with an even scarier reality. It's an approach that packs way more credibility than the "unscripted" fodder churned out by the likes of the E! network.
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