TV

Was Oprah’s Reality Series Bad For Lindsay Lohan’s Career?

The show wrapped up this week, and it didn't have the happy ending we were all hoping for. [spoilers]

[Warning: This article contains spoilers.]

That Lindsay Lohan has managed to claw her way through a decade of debauchery and only just now got around to securing herself a reality show (sorry, docuseries as the powers that be at the Oprah Winfrey Network prefer it to be called) isn’t necessarily par for the Hollywood course. We’ve seen plenty of her hard-partying contemporaries already go the reality route (see: Paris, Nicole, Britney, Kelly), whereas Lohan spent her time flying under the docu-drama radar, despite multiple trips to rehab, endless paparazzi hounding, and her mother pimping out the rest of the Lohans for their own short-lived series.

But Lindsay, which aired its final episode this week, wasn’t like many other reality shows. Following her interview appearance on Oprah’s Next Chapter in August last year, Lohan was handpicked by Oprah to have her sixth exit from rehab and attempt to stay sober documented for the TV billionaire’s struggling cable channel. Unfortunately, it didn’t go so well.

Hardly Working

Lohan’s trajectory through flop films, family troubles and addiction has always been front page fodder for gossip rags, with ‘rumours’ (remember her 2004 single, autotuned to the nth degree?) consistently flying around about her unprofessionalism, alcohol relapses, lateness, and generally difficult demeanour. Until Lindsay, it was easy for the handful of staunch Lohan supporters (believe me, we’re out there) to justify her behaviour as pure speculation from gossip-mongering ‘haters’, and that when Lohan clawed her way back to her rightful position on the A-list, we’d be able to say “I told you so.”

Unfortunately, the docuseries has done Lohan more harm than good in this respect. It’s clear that although much of her evasive and flaky conduct can be attributed to her disease, those endless rumours seem to be true: Lindsay Lohan is unprofessional and difficult.

Last week’s second-to-last episode would’ve been the final nail in the coffin for supporters of the actress: in the latest example of her, ahem, lax approach to work, Lohan’s lateness dragged a one-day ELLE Indonesia cover shoot into a week-long ordeal, so much so that the designer clothes the magazine had lined up had to be returned and the staff were instead forced to pull from Lohan’s expansive closet. Lindsay then tried to take creative credit because of this, and even deigned to criticise the photographer’s method.

In the series finale, it came to light that during the period of the first two episodes of Lindsay, the actress suffered a miscarriage. This couldn’t have been easy for anyone to deal with, let alone someone in the midst of recovery, moving house and filming a docuseries in which many people assume they’re going to fuck up. It certainly puts some of Lohan’s actions into perspective, although the extent of Lindsay’s actions over the course of the series has seen some online commenters questioning the validity of her claims.

Empty Promises

Perhaps more troubling than her work aversion is the fact that after repeated rehabs and relapses, Lohan still can’t admit she has a problem. The language Lohan uses — or, more precisely, lack thereof — to describe her recovery highlights this.

In one episode, Lohan claimed she was working on overhauling her lifestyle with the assistance of life coach A.J., saying she needed to start eating better, getting up early, working out, doing yoga, and going to meetings to get the help she needed. But viewers of the series premiere might remember she spent its duration holed up in her hotel room and not going to meetings, because she didn’t want the paparazzi following her there. Fair enough: it’s not called ‘Alcoholics Anonymous’ for nothing. But Lohan seems to think her ‘sober coach’ will suffice in place of a sponsor and attending meetings. And when her father Michael questions the people she’s hanging out with, Lohan asserts she’s not “going to edit my life” to factor out friends who drink. I don’t have any experience with addiction, but I’d assume that’s exactly what a recovering alcoholic would have to do to ensure sobriety in the face of temptation.

Before the series aired, Lohan was privy to the benefit of the doubt from directors and agents who hadn’t yet worked with her, while Lohan’s longtime fans remained in her corner. Oprah was one of the last people left in the industry willing to give Lohan another chance, if her moaning to A.J. about her lack of acting opportunities is any indication. So was it in the best interests of Lohan’s floundering career to sign on for this revealing, behind-the-scenes series? I’m not so sure. After all, ignorance is bliss.

Scarlett Harris is a freelance writer, who blogs at The Scarlett Woman. You can follow her on Twitter here.