The Anna Nicole Show: The First Season

The Anna Nicole Show: The First Season
Like Anna Nicole herself, descriptions seem too cheap and easy: compelling like a car wreck. Addictive like potato chips. Others, like Anna Nicole herself, seem self-evidently contradictory: unwatchably compelling. Disgustingly delightful. Whatever your reaction to the phenomenon of celebrity-hounding reality TV shows, The Anna Nicole Show is in a class all its own. From its subject-baiting promotions (what could be meaner than "it's not supposed to be funny, it just is"?) to its clearly staged "accidents," Anna Nicole represents the end game for pop culture. Worship at the alter of the rich and famous, regardless of how they got there? This painfully stupid, giant former model, her sexually ambiguous assistant, her cloying lawyer, annoying dog and even more annoying decorator are what you're left with. This is the detritus of our obsessions washing up on our shores to pollute once-beautiful beaches. Or it's just really fun guilty pleasure TV. For those just emerging from the biosphere, Anna Nicole Smith is a former Playboy Playmate of the Year; that peak of accomplishment is now a decade past and she's more famous for marrying a billionaire who croaked, then fighting with his estranged family for her share of the loot. Now a camera crew follows her around capturing her "life" (though there's clearly a contractual rule against filming her eating, which we never see but which she clearly does) and the wackiness that ensues. Her dog humps stuffed animals. Anna Nicole is horny. Her lawyer fights with her decorator. They get drunk in Las Vegas. They get ill-advised tattoos. They all call each other mama (especially clearly-in-love assistant Kim and Anna Nicole). It's all an excuse to revel in how dim Smith is. This 14-episode DVD — which features a good-sized handful of deleted scenes of even more wacky hi-jinks — only provides one hint that there's more going on than we see. That comes in a commentary by Anna Nicole herself on the final "Holiday" episode, where she blithely points out what was staged and that the "famous" arriving guests weren't invited by her but by the network. It's a brief glimpse behind the curtain, and while sure, it's a stretch to call any of these dimwits Machiavellian, for a second there, you think there's a glimmer of self-awareness. Then, like Kayser Soze, it's gone. Was it all an illusion? Is there actually more going on behind the clown make-up, pouting and whining? Such complex questions remain the unravel-able enigma wrapped in the oversized candy bar that is Anna Nicole. (Lions Gate)