I have a controversial sentence to share with you, and even now as I’m starting this post, I don’t yet know how I feel about it: Lindsay Lohan is getting back to work. Let’s discuss.
Fresh off of her mandatory ninety-day stay in rehab for lying to the police, Lindsay has apparently been cast in the fourth and final season of Eastbound And Down. According to a source, she will play the daughter of a main character in a scene shot on her wedding day, far in the future. She posted a picture to Instagram from the set, showing herself looking surprisingly pulled together in white dress with her hair curled. It’s enough to get me to start thinking optimistically, until I remember that this is an addict we’re talking about.
On the one hand, getting back to work sounds like a great thing — she finished her ninety-day stay in rehab, made the positive decision to stay with a sober coach for a few days, and many outlets are reporting people close to her as saying this seems like her best chance at success so far. Getting back to work seems like a great thing, and a easing back into a normal routine would be the next step I’d recommend for most people. It’s a natural way to start moving your new life forward and building new habits within the old structure. What could be better?
But Lindsay Lohan isn’t most people. She’s an actress, so her work is on film sets, where tensions are high, there’s a pressure to perform on a deadline, and a large percentage of the world will be judging the result. I can’t imagine an environment less conducive to recovery, and she’s jumping right back into it right away. Particularly coming off her sixth rehab stay, all eyes will be on Lindsay to either succeed or — hopefully — fail.
Because that’s the thing, guys. That’s what most people are holding out for — Lindsay to fail. An actress who doesn’t have her shit together is fun and interesting to watch. An actress who doesn’t have her shit together and then does have her shit together is boring, and nobody wants to see that. Just look at Britney Spears and Amanda Bynes. Even now that she hasn’t caused drama in over five years, Britney is still reported on as if she’s a ticking time bomb, inches from the edge, capable of cracking at any second. And it makes sense on some level, because if she’s not regarded that way, her normal behavior is really unexciting.
As for Amanda Bynes, she was everybody’s most favoritest person (even celebrities!) to mock and bait on Twitter…until it turned out that she’s suffering from an actual mental illness and requires medical attention and supervision. That’s no fun at all, and people have ceased to report on her progress, as a result. As an empathetic, compassionate human, I’m personally interested and invested in her recovery, but it’s a solid fact that posts on her aren’t being clicked on because nobody really cares. It’s sad, but true.
And Lindsay Lohan is the same way. Maybe people want her to get better, but they don’t want her to get better, which I truly believe is evidenced by people offering her work straight out of rehab. As much as it may seem otherwise, I think it’s exploitative and destructive to give Lindsay a part in your movie or your TV show or to give her her own talk show right now. Hear me out.
Lindsay was not a good actress when she went into rehab. She’s nearly impossible to insure on set, has a reputation for showing up late, and gives uninspiring, wooden performances a la Liz And Dick. It’s the only movie I’ve ever watched that I didn’t enjoy even with a drinking game.
There’s probably still a very talented actress in there somewhere, but there are much more accessible ones walking down every street in Hollywood. Actresses who would be delighted to show up on time and bang out an excellent performance for half of what you’re paying LiLo. But you didn’t book them for The Canyons, did you Paul Schrader? You booked Lindsay, because she’s a curiosity. She can’t carry movies, and hasn’t given a good performance in years, but her previous bad behavior has left her with an uncanny ability to stir up press. She may be an on-set nightmare, but she’s a publicity dream.
So yeah, let’s throw her on a set or give her a TV show and turn up the heat a little. Whoever it is who gets her first performance back after rehab is, in my opinion, baldly exploiting her recovery. From their perspective, it’s a win-win, because they benefit either way. Either she gives a decent performance and it’s no skin off their nose, or she falls flat on camera or gets a DUI on her way to set or comes late because she was up all night partying or any number of things. All I’m saying is it’s a high stress environment, and appears almost specifically designed to trip addicts up on their road to recovery.
Going back to the example of Britney Spears again, do you remember her tragic VMA performance? It was supposed to be her ‘comeback’ after her meltdown, which is an insane concept in and of itself. She was so nervous about reappearing in front of the public and putting on a good show that she got drunk backstage on vodka shots and proceeded to give the vacant, glass-eyed, stumbling performance that’s become so infamous.
And Lindsay has fallen into a very similar trap before. Apparently she was so anxious on the set of The Canyons that she would self-medicate with vodka and Adderall, a combination her director referred to as a ‘speedball’. There was so much pressure to turn out a good performance and prove all of her critics wrong that she cracked under it. And especially in the brain of someone who has abused drugs and alcohol in the past, those rise-and-fall patterns run deep: rush of success, pressure to sustain it, backsliding into old habits, and total meltdown. I’m hoping that she’s strong enough to stay on the right path, but I don’t think a film set is the right place to test out those new skills, and I wish it was a little easier for me to believe that the people encouraging her back to work had her interests in mind.