Hol­ly­wood’s most trou­bled young star­let tries one more time to rein­vent her­self Emily Yahr

National Post (National Edition) - - THE CHATTER -

When you hear “Lind­say Lo­han” and “re­al­ity show” in the same sen­tence, an­other word that might come to mind is “disaster.” The trou­bled ac­tress, known for her many le­gal en­tan­gle­ments and con­tro­ver­sies, attempted a do­cuseries with Oprah Win­frey in 2014 — it did not go well. She’s also in­fa­mous for caus­ing prob­lems on sets; one direc­tor likened work­ing with her to be­ing held hostage.

How­ever, we can in­form you: Lind­say Lo­han’s Beach Club, which de­buted on MTV this week, is ac­tu­ally not a disaster. Cen­tred on the launch of Lo­han’s new club in Mykonos, Greece, it’s a fairly stan­dard — and un­re­mark­able — en­try into the “un­der­lings work for a celebrity boss” genre of re­al­ity TV (see: Van­der­pump Rules).

Still, the show is a deeply sad view­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. Just not for the rea­sons you might ex­pect.

The mes­sag­ing sur­round­ing the se­ries could not be more di­rect. Lo­han, ex­tremely aware of her rep­u­ta­tion, wants you to know: Her trou­bles are be­hind her. She has rein­vented her­self as an en­tre­pre­neur with a brand to pro­tect, and if you’re not as deadly se­ri­ous as she is about her mis­sion, well, you can see your­self out.

“Stop re­hash­ing my past for no rea­son, be­cause ev­ery­thing is dif­fer­ent now,” Lo­han re­cently snapped at a Va­ri­ety re­porter, in re­sponse to a ques­tion that wasn’t at all about her past. In an in­ter­view last month with Pa­per, her pub­li­cist asked the writer to men­tion that Lo­han ar­rived “on time” to the in­ter­view.

Lo­han’s new chap­ter is the theme of the first episode, which kicked off with the ac­tress tri­umphantly perched on a boat in the sparkling blue sea: “I want to be my own boss,” she an­nounced. So she and her busi­ness part­ner, Panos Spent­zos, rounded up a group of Amer­i­can “VIP hosts” to work at Lo­han Beach House, her third es­tab­lish­ment in Greece. As these VIP hosts caused all sorts of un­nec­es­sary drama, the sad­ness seeped in when view­ers learned what mo­ti­vated Lo­han to cre­ate the club; and also when it was made clear how dam­aged she is by her time in Hol­ly­wood.

In the open­ing seg­ment, Lo­han talked about why she loves Greece: “I’ve al­ways loved the beauty and seren­ity I feel when I’m here,” she said. “Mykonos is the place to be ... it’s beau­ti­ful, it’s open-minded, and most of all, it’s safe.”

If “safe” didn’t quite fit in with those other de­scrip­tors, it made sense later in the episode, when Lo­han re­minded Spent­zos that he had known her since “I was hit on that beach.”

Spent­zos turned se­ri­ous as he told the cam­era about the vi­o­lent in­ci­dent in Mykonos that made head­lines in 2016: “Three years ago, Lind­say was there on that beach with her ex-boyfriend. She got hit by him.”

“I was in a very tu­mul­tuous re­la­tion­ship. I was in a dif­fer­ent place in my life,” Lo­han ex­plained. “In­stead of cry­ing or get­ting an­gry, I said, ‘I’m gonna own this beach one day.’ Be­cause I al­ways want ev­ery­one to feel safe.”

“She wanted to re­mem­ber this beach as a very fun place. Not what hap­pened to her,” Spent­zos added.

Lo­han started to cry as she de­scribed bring­ing her mother to the beach club for the first time. “I made it some­thing that is mean­ing­ful to me,” she said. Lo­han then segued into her dis­ap­point­ment in the club’s new “VIP hosts,” who got drunk the first night of film­ing. “I don’t want these kids to (mess) that up for my fam­ily and my fu­ture.”

As the show went on, Lo­han took on the role of the strict boss who didn’t have time for drunken an­tics and wouldn’t hes­i­tate to fire any­one. (“I want to build an em­pire here, this is not Girls Gone Wild.”) Still, cast mem­bers re­peat­edly gushed about how lucky they were to be work­ing for Lo­han, and that they didn’t want to dis­ap­point her.

“I grew up watch­ing Lind­say, and when I was a lit­tle girl, I used to be like, ‘I want to be like her,’” said May Yas­sine, a wait­ress from New York. “Now I’m work­ing for her. I still think this is a dream.”

“I’m so ner­vous to see how Lind­say is as a boss,” said Jonitta Wal­lace, a VIP host from Los An­ge­les, not­ing Lo­han worked “so hard” for this club. “The pa­parazzi, they paint this pic­ture of her as, like, this hor­ri­ble per­son.”

This also came up again and again: Lo­han has se­ri­ous trust is­sues from years in the spot­light, par­tic­u­larly with peo­ple us­ing her for their own gain. She moved to Dubai years ago, and dur­ing the episode’s after-show, she ex­plained her rea­son­ing: “I moved to Dubai be­cause it’s il­le­gal to take pho­tos of peo­ple with­out their knowl­edge. That’s re­ally im­por­tant to me.”

In one scene, Lo­han con­fronted the staff about their drunken pool party. Gabi An­drews, a bar­tender from Wash­ing­ton, admitted she was on the show for “self­ish” rea­sons, and saw it as a step­ping stone for her own ca­reer. Lo­han wasn’t im­pressed.

“I don’t have time for peo­ple mak­ing their own in­ten­tions on work­ing with me,” Lo­han fumed, adding, “Be­ing in the pub­lic eye, peo­ple all the time take from me. And it’s hard.”

Later, she fret­ted about cast mem­bers tak­ing ad­van­tage of her. “Just like ev­ery­one watches me, I’m watch­ing them. Cam­era’s flipped now,” she said de­fi­antly.

Granted, it’s a re­al­ity se­ries, so those sound­bites could have eas­ily been scripted – but it sounded like pretty real pain from some­one who, as a child star, never had a shot at a nor­mal life. As easy as it would be to write off Lind­say Lo­han’s Beach Club as yet an­other ridicu­lous show, when you con­sider ev­ery­thing that led the once-cel­e­brated ac­tress to this place, it ac­tu­ally just feels tragic.


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