"Hey Paula" / Stacey Nosek
TV Reviews | July 2, 2007 | Comments ()
Despite only a cursory knowledge of “American Idol” and general disinterest in Paula Abdul’s “career” (unless she does something particularly noteworthy on a day I’m guest gossip blogging and I’m afforded a joke at her expense) I absolutely leapt at the chance to review her new candid reality show, “Hey Paula.” Why, you ask? Because I’m always game for any kind of degrading spectacle featuring a washed-up celebrity. (And yes, that means you can bet your sweet ass I’ll be tuning into the Brett Michaels dating show later this summer.)
Now if I were to attempt to produce a respectable and classy series documenting the life of a former pop star like Paula Abdul, I would probably try to minimize the gratuitous references to her former pop glory. That’s just me, though. Luckily for us, “Hey Paula” seems to strive for neither of those things; so instead we’re treated to opening credits to the tune of “Straight Up” over a montage of present day Paula acting batshit crazy. With a start like that, you just know it’s gonna be good.
After the credits roll, Paula voiceovers introductions to the rest of the peanut gallery — there’s Jeff, the hapless publicist; Kylie, the even more hapless and somewhat abused stylist; Daniel, the flamboyant best friend-slash-hairdresser; and last and most certainly least, Paula’s four hideous, bug-eyed Chihuahuas. If you think there’s nothing sadder than a middle-aged lady who lives alone with four yappy toy dogs and is best friends with her hairdresser, well, you’re wrong. I think kids with terminal illness are actually sadder than this — but it’s close.
In the opening segment of the first episode, Paula tells us that she’s not just a washed up pop star and “Idol” judge — she’s also a businesswoman. To Paula, being a “businesswoman” means slapping your name on every conceivable product — from QVC jewelry to fragrances. Between the product endorsement, inflated ego and rampant abuse of assistants — this woman is the Hank Kingsley of “American Idol.”
The most important thing we learn in the first episode is that Paula is an Extremely Busy and Important Person. Because Paula is so Extremely Busy and Important, she is required to have twice as many hours in a day as everyone else — a little theory twisting the space and time continuum that she has aptly dubbed “Paula Time.” Fair enough. We learn that in addition to being a (cough) businesswoman, Paula is also producing and designing costumes for the new Bratz movie. But there’s no time to talk about that! Because Paula is attending the Grammys, then immediately jaunting off to Philadelphia to shill her tacky products on QVC. See? She’s very, very busy. You’d think that getting one woman from the Grammys to the airport would be a breeze; however, when one of Paula’s horribly incompetent assistants forgets to pack Paula’s favorite sweatpants, they nearly miss the flight — a move the assistant is righteously berated for.
Watching the spectacle of “Hey Paula” unfold is every bit the confusing and delightful train wreck you’d no doubt expect it to be. Although Abdul continues to refute claims that she’s a substance abuser — she slurs, glassy eyed, through severe mood swings that take her from crying about people not appreciating her to snorting and laughing at her own unintelligible jokes like an overly done up gremlin.
By the second episode, as her behavior becomes visibly more erratic — constant excuses are made to blame lack of sleep on said behavior, lest we think for one precious moment that anything else might be influencing Paula to speak in tongues and paw at the air incoherently. In the limo on the way to somewhere (at least half of the second episode is filmed in the back of a limo) she reveals to us that in the past six days she’s only gotten anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour of sleep a night, due to “insomnia.” Now I admit, a severe lack of sleep like that probably would make the average person look as though she were three tits to the wind. However, in my opinion, I doubt even the extremist of insomniacs could subsist on such little sleep, unless perhaps the alleged “insomnia” was assisted by — wait for it — drugs? How else to explain why Paula stumbles drunkenly into a Starbucks at 4 a.m., tells a barista she’s bored with her life, and then panhandles from fellow customers to pay for a caffeinated drink. Perhaps those late-night double frappajolts are why she can’t get to sleep? Nah — it’s probably just the drugs.
Wrapping up the episode, we move along to the ill-fated “Idol” satellite publicity tour, and — much like Titanic — we all know how that ends. Messy and fucking horrific — with a big helping of the weepy jags. Unless you failed to turn on a computer throughout the entire month of January, it was hard to miss the smattering of Internet videos of Paula bombing interviews like a kamikaze in a Kubrick film, thereby capturing her crazy inebriated behavior for immortal YouTube posterity. Forever Your Girl, indeed.
Stacey Nosek is a television columnist for Pajiba, and lives in a quaint little town in rural Pennsylvania. You can also visit her blog, Litelysalted.