Lindsay Lohan’s Oprah Interview and the Point of Reality TV

What, exactly, is the point of a Lindsay Lohan reality show? Winfrey's answer is worth examining.

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Lindsay Lohan’s extensive sit-down interview with Oprah Winfrey, which aired Aug. 18 on OWN (the Oprah Winfrey Network), offers a comprehensive look back at the actress’ troubles: she tells Winfrey that jail was the only way she could find peace, acknowledges that she’s an addict and discusses her relationship with her parents.

In another portion of the discussion, however, the conversation turned to Lohan’s professional life—including her relationship with Winfrey and OWN, a network that is planning a further in-depth look at her life, via an eight-episode docuseries. But what, exactly, is the point of a Lindsay Lohan reality show? Winfrey’s answer is worth examining.

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In the video below, Lohan says that her reputation for being problematic on set leads to surprise when she shows up for work early and ready to work. She blames being “distracted” for her past behavior and thanks Winfrey for giving her a chance to talk about it, to which her interlocutor replies:

We’re going to do more than an interview. I’m interested in this docuseries that we’re doing because I’m interested in your life being actualized in the way that you say that you want it to be. I’m really interested in seeing what that looks like.

So, though Lohan will be in front of the camera rather than behind it, the docuseries—which was announced in July by Entertainment Weekly and will address her attempts to battle the aforementioned bad reputation and to bring her career back from the brink—will, per Winfrey, be a chance for Lohan to present a picture of her life the way she wants it to be seen.

As EW noted, Lohan has shied away from reality TV in the past, and OWN’s execs have said that the docuseries will be more “docu” than the typical reality show. The documentary it most resembles in concept, however, given Winfrey’s take on its purpose, is probably Beyoncé’s Life Is But a Dream, which aired on HBO in February and was co-directed by its star: a chance for a celebrity to show the world what she wants them to see.

In some ways, if that ends up being the case for the Lohan series, viewers could rightfully be disappointed. There are plenty of ways to see a star present her best face and a “documentary” usually implies that the content is somehow less guarded. On the other hand, with Oprah Winfrey straight-up telling her this is her chance to show the real Lindsay Lohan to the world, the stakes are higher for the star: if OWN’s cameras catch her backsliding, it will be hard for her to argue that she was simply distracted.

But, though filming has begun, her fans will have to wait to see which ends up being the case: the Lindsay Lohan docuseries will air next year.

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