Obsessed TV Report Card: Lindsay is the Best Reality Debut in Years

by Megan Angelo

Steve Eichner
Steve Eichner

It seems that Lindsay, the Lindsay Lohan reality show produced by Oprah Winfrey, is the guerrilla hit of my TV season. After giving the obligatory eyebrow-raise at the original announcement, I didn't pay attention to it until the trailer dropped on Friday--and, with its true docu-style and arresting soundbites, made me take notice.

The show premiered last night, and (as is befitting of O), it's basically a master class in reality television. Lindsay is shot like a more sophisticated True Life--we get background when we need it, stats when they're powerful, and tons of private moments.

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Courtesy of OWN
Courtesy of OWN

Of course, none of that matters if you don't have the perfect subject--and as it turns out, Lohan is. She's seen every nook and cranny of the fame game, so she's not affected by the cameras. She's had her every mortifying moment dragged into the public eye, so she's completely unafraid of honesty. She's wary, funny, occasionally bitchy--basically, she reminds me a lot of the rest of us, especially in the sense that she gets up every day seemingly believing that it'll be a happy one. Sometimes her good mood is waylaid by the apartment process (been there) or the indefatigable paparazzi (that one, not so much--but I don't envy her), but it's the way she starts each day that's so relatable. (And if we're trying to gauge her overall positivity: Lohan spends much of episode one calmly editing a storage-unit haul that would have reduced me to a sobbing, chocolate-smeared, arson-considering mess.)

But the real magic of this show is in its timing. Like most reality subjects, Lohan indicates at the top of the show that she'd like to help people in some way by exposing her journey. Unlike most reality subjects, she's not bulls--ting. The whole "if I can even make one person _____" trope has been worn out by housewives and D-listers who, deep down, just want to be on TV.

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Lohan's position is different. A teaser for the season ahead hinted at the sort of troubles we've come to think of as characteristic for her--flaking on shoots, etc.--but the actress's power, in this series, doesn't hinge on her behavior record or even her intentions. The fact is: she's in a fragile place, as a young woman and as an addict, having seen a hell of a lot and needing to decide how to move on. How do you build a stable future when your past was all high glitter and major stumbles? How do you get excited about what's ahead when your former definition of excitement--both the substances and the circumstances that led to them--is now off-limits, by your own choice?

That's the question this series seems to be setting out to answer--and it's one addicts and non-addicts alike can empathize with. The great thing about having Lohan in the question is: We really care what happens to her. Not all of us (as I'm sure someone's gonna tell me in the comments!)--but millions of us, in a way that can't quite be explained, except to say that maybe some people are born to be rooted for. Lohan is one of those people. If she's been dealt a mixed hand in life, that is her ace. Lindsay gives us a chance to watch as she plays her next card--and it knows we all want her to nail it.

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