Long Live The Rich, Drunk, Fat and Stupid

I’ve seen a good hour or two of the latest reality craze to hit TV. The reason the show is such a success is that Anna doesn’t come off that well. In case you just got out of a monastery or something, Anna was one of Playboy’s most popular bunnies ever. She married an old, old billionaire and inherited a sum equivalent to the GDP of Latin America when he died after a year or two.

Now she’s put on some weight and is either constantly drunk or heavily medicated. The parts of the show I’ve seen don’t give any indication of what she’s on, but she slurs and stumbles enough that it’s safe to assume she’s doesn’t have straight edge. Some smart fella’ or gal at E! found out about Anna’s state and realized that people will flock to a program documenting the decline of someone who is rich, young and beautiful so they can delude themselves into believing that they wouldn’t want to trade places with her. “Oh, I may work fifty hours a week at a shitty job and be totally miserable, but at least I don’t have a big ass and drink too much.” Yeah right.

Reality TV…

Surprisingly, I didn’t find myself laughing much at Anna. I figure the show is edited to make her look bad and even so, she seems pretty happy. Anna has her little quasi-family, consisting of her son, her dog, her personal assistant and her lawyer, Howard E. Stern. Anna’s pretty nice to everybody and they’re pretty nice back to her. Her son seems pretty well adjusted, all things considered, although maybe a bit of a mama’s boy.

The tougher nut to crack is Howard. He’s smart, obviously successful (he’s a lawyer for someone with $100’s of millions) and not bad looking so I don’t think he’s after either money or sex. So why is he best friends with Anna Nicole? Anna seems nice enough, but she’s basically a big baby. In other words, she’s not really the kind of person you’d expect a successful young lawyer to hang out with. It’s an odd group, but everyone seems to genuinely like everyone else and have a good time.

We Prefer Fantasy…

One of the more interesting moments on the show comes when we see Anna watching herself on Larry King. She’s very worried about looking stupid, and she does look pretty stupid and I actually felt bad for her, but more interestingly, she tells the story of her courtship with Mr. Moneybags. Apparently, she met him while still an unknown stripper and refused to marry him until after she became famous. Interesting, eh? She professes a genuine, (though admittedly not romantic) love for the man and, in other parts of the show, we see her lugging his ashes around her new house and talking to them. In short, the facts of the story don’t match the assumptions you make when you hear that a young model has married a crippled old billionaire.

As should be obvious, the show was good enough to involve me, which is something I can’t say about “The Osbornes.” It reminds me of a lot of contemporary fiction, which focuses on odd characters in odd situations. To me the show wasn’t so much about reveling in Anna’s degradation, as getting a look at lives that are quite different from my own, but maybe – just maybe – not so different after all. No, I’m joking. They are very, very different. I’ve basically had my fill of the show, but it was worth checking out.

By the way, if you enjoy this show, you are hereby obligated to check out the films of Errol Morris if you haven’t already done so. Most of them are documentaries on unusual people in odd situations, ranging from families in the pet cemetery industry to Stephen Hawking. You’re local video store is most likely to have Mr. Death or Fast, Cheap and Out of Control. If you already like Morris’ films but haven’t checked out “The Anna Nicole Show”, you might consider giving it a chance. Of course, “The Anna Nicole Show” is not as artful as Morris’ work, but the essence is similar.