Lindsay Lohan isn’t a regular boss — she’s a cool boss.
In her new MTV reality show, Lindsay Lohan’s Beach Club, we see the former child star in a novel role: reformed messy celebrity-turned-business owner. Beach Club tells the story of Lohan and her horny new brand ambassadors recruited from all over the United States to come work at her beach club in Mykonos — the very same beach club where Lohan was filmed doing her strange dance a few months ago.
The cast members all sleep in the same place, some sharing rooms, in the style of MTV’s reality show classic, The Real World. Before I watched the pilot, I accidentally watched a promotional episode that showed brief vignettes to introduce us to Lohan’s new employees. If I hadn’t, I would have absolutely no idea what makes any of these people distinct, because besides one of them having blue hair, they’re virtually all the same. They’re all used to working in nightlife as promoters and bartenders, and now they’re traveling to Mykonos together.
The first episode of Beach Club basically follows the brand ambassadors on their first couple of days in Mykonos, meeting Lohan and training for their first day of work. All of the ambassadors are straight aside from Mike, who is the hunky bisexual from New Jersey. I sense that we’ll get one experimental kiss between Mike and another castmate by the end of season two.
On the first night, we watch the brand ambassadors enjoying dinner at the table before undressing and jumping in the pool for some flirty tension. But then — surprise: Lindsay shows up at their residence to meet them for the first time. Perfectly natural for your boss to show up at your house at night for a surprise visit after you and your coworkers get hammered. Not at all produced. In this scene, Lohan expresses some doubts about how serious some of her new ambassadors are, but really it’s just badly-manufactured tension.
Throughout the entire pilot, the producers frame Lindsay both as a reformed mess and also as an authority figure — and that’s a weird balance to try and strike. While an unannounced visit is something that might happen on a more competitive show like America’s Next Top Model or The Bachelor, that is not what Beach Club is supposed to be. It’s moments like this that make it extra hard to find Lohan convincing as a boss.
The first day follows one brand ambassador in particular. Brent, the resident douche of the cast, is put in charge of managing the pool’s VIP cabana area while everyone else is… off doing other work things? It’s unclear and the show doesn’t really care. A lot of the episode revolves around the flirty relationship between him and the female VIP client — they go swimming together, into dressing rooms together, they kiss. This later comes up when another ambassador, Jonitta, points out that if she were doing anything that Brent was doing with a man, she would get attacked for it, and she’s annoyed at the double standard. That is pretty much the main drama for this episode.
And that’s kind of the problem. Aside from Lindsay, we don’t know these people and none of them know each other, so it’s hard to understand what the stakes are. In contrast, there are many reasons why Vanderpump Rules works as a show centered around Lisa Vanderpump’s employees. First, the cast members all knew each other before the show started. In fact, according to a profile in Vogue, Lisa Vanderpump pitched the show with “an outrageous diagram of hookups, breakups, cheating, and fights between her servers, bartenders, and bussers, all of whom, as in Los Angeles restaurants at large, were very good looking.” The point of the show is that the story was already baked-in, and the audience is just along for the ride. Plus, the heart of the show comes pretty naturally because Lisa Vanderpump herself fits very nicely in the role of omnipotent ruler. She’s believable as an authority figure and as a boss, which is super important for a show centered around a workplace and its ensuing staff drama
One of the better scenes of the Beach Club pilot is when Lindsay is comforting May, another new ambassador, who is feeling overwhelmed on her first day. It’s the one time in this episode Lindsay seems convincing as a boss. Then, just a couple scenes later, Lindsay is trying to tell Gabi, one of the other castmates, that May is feeling down — and asks Gabi to check in on how May is feeling. The problem is, Lindsay literally doesn’t remember May’s name. She keeps describing her as “one of the other ambassadors,” and all the heart that they put into their tender moment kind of goes away.
These scenes serve as a nice summary of what Lindsay Lohan’s Beach Club feels like so far. The premise, the cast, the Lindsay, all of them feel too removed from each other. I’m not asking for authenticity in my reality television, but I would appreciate an attempt at believability.