Last night’s two-episode premiere of Bravo’s ‘wrecksploitation series Hey Paula was more boring than banging — if Paula Abdul is a trainwreck, she’s an extremely slow-moving one who’s particular about the color of her tennis shoes, and one who loves her dogs, black diamonds and Dunkin Donuts.
Now, is that any way to crash?
Watching a lucid Paula Abdul prepare for the Grammys, appear on QVC, pick up an award from Bravo golden boy Tim Gunn (can you say "tie-in?") and then grab some Starbucks, was sort of like taking a quaalude and not experiencing the euphoria. That’s to say it was a drowsy time. It wasn’t until the second-to-last segment, when Paula visited a fragrance company she’s working with that the show truly picked up.
Paula slurred and giggled her way through the fragrance-sampling experience, at one point saying that the fragrance she’s set to launch will make women feel like a "sex pot." Her behavior was otherwise strange throughout, as these screen shots attest:
Here, she’s giving someone a playful nibble.
Here, she’s showing her inner sex pot by getting cozy with one of the fragrance technicians.
And here…I don’t know what the hell she’s doing here.
Afterward, in the car, a frazzled Paula explains that she’s tired. Well, actually she explains that she’s, "so overstimulated and exhausted and yet giddy and then hyper and then exhausted." Riiiight. Though we see her going into her hotel for rest, the next day finds her in even more of a fog: we get a behind-the-scenes look at her infamous American Idol press-junket interviews, perhaps the height of her chemically questionable public behavior. It’s during this scene (watch it below) that Hey Paula‘s slow-paced depiction of Paula Abdul’s fast-paced life starts making sense.
It seems that the whole show exists to explain this point: Paula’s life is soooo hectic that it’s exhaustion (NOT DRUGS) that leads to her loopy public behavior. Case closed? Hardly. If you’ve followed Paula’s post-junket comments, you’ve seen her repeatedly deny drug use and explain that because she was talking to many different networks that day, she had confusion over the feed that was coming through her ear piece. While you do see her face some technical problems in the scene above, the excuse of fatigue is completely new. She, for example, made no mention of being tired when she appeared on Jay Leno days after the debacle:
How hard would it have been for her to add, "I was tired"? Why are we just hearing this excuse for the first time, six month later? It could be that Hey Paula, which is executive produced (and therefore approved) by its titular star, is a prime example of reality TV manipulation. Certainly, the show reveals that she’s not quite the sweetheart she appears to be on American Idol — we see her earlier being a hard-ass with QVC over her jewelery line and being demanding with her assistants over clothes they packed for a trip. She’s nothing if not image-obsessed. She’s also shrewd enough to launch something with enough spin to save her face.
But then, distorted reality may be the perfect platform. After all, this is Paula Abdul we’re talking about.
VH1 News: ‘Hey Paula’ Recap