True confessions time: Until I heard the opening credits of Hey Paula, Bravo’s new reality series starring Paula Abdul, I had no idea what Paula’s biggest hit was. I’m pretty sure that back when she was popular I was still listening to my Barbra Streisand and Queen albums, because apparently I was a miniature gay man as a child. Hmm. So obviously, I’m not going into this show with a lot of Paula Knowledge. Thus, allow me to allow her to describe herself. Paula Abdul sees herself as an “everyday girl,” a “businesswoman,” and a “warrior.” I see Paula more as a drunken American Idol judge, whose CD all my friends used to have.
We join Paula on Grammy night, where she’s admiring her millions of dollars worth of loaned jewelry, and play-dressing her tiny dog/rats in the necklaces. Oh, and letting one of them chew on a zillion-dollar ring. Somehow, I doubt the jeweler would find that as funny as Paula does.
Horrifying Paula fact: She’s producing a live-action feature based on the Bratz dolls. She designed all the clothes and jewelry for the dolls, at her own expense. “And now they’ve stopped returning calls.” Oh, man. Is this going to be a sad show? Am I already finding myself sympathetic to Paula? Total disaster! I’m going to take a moment to steel myself. Aaaaand…okay. The Bratz producers are apparently finally returning Paula’s calls now, and want to see her designs immediately. I smell manufactured drama! Paula is hurt that they ignored her for months, and she’s not okay with it. She knows these Bratz dolls better than anyone! And hell, with all this makeup on, she even kind of looks like a Bratz doll. Incidentally, it apparently takes four hours to do Paula’s red carpet makeup. If I put on four hours worth of makeup, I’d probably look like a crazed mannequin, too.
Paula doesn’t understand why she’s always appearing on the worst-dressed lists. She ends up picking an expensive Valentino dress to wear to the Grammy’s, and I don’t really know much about fashion outside of Project Runway, so I’m just gonna say it looks fine to me. One of her dogs, by the way, may or may not be a morbidly obese Chihuahua that’s, like, the size of a basketball.
At the Grammy’s, Paula does the red carpet, and Joan Rivers loves her dress. Victory is Paula’s. After the Grammy’s, Paula has to be whisked off to the airport to get to a QVC taping on the opposite coast. Paula, unfortunately, is wandering around downtown in search of her limo (in a freaking ball gown). After she and her assistants finally connect (one hour before her flight) and she gets in the limo, Paula talks about how much everyone liked her dress…except for that darn Joan Rivers. (As you may recall from earlier in this paragraph, Joan Rivers did like her dress.) Her belated comeback: “I wanted to say to Joan, what doctor is your face wearing?” Amazing! And she totally cracks herself up with it, too. God, I really do kind of love Paula.
However, Paula throws a total hissy fit over the lack of comfy sweats to fly in. Diva, much? She actually starts crying a little because the pants her assistant picked out are so tight. She may be the most bipolar person I’ve ever seen on television. And that’s counting Janice Dickinson. Janice! Dickinson! They roll up half an hour before her flight, and Paula is still being insanely picky about the outfit she’s flying in (“I want my white tennis shoes!”). Cuh-razy. She’s totally going to miss her flight because of her outfit. And she’s all “Can you freakin’ believe this? Kids.” to the camera. Yeah, “kids.” Those crazy assistants, bringing you jeans to wear on the plane, and black tennis shoes.
She makes her flight with virtually no time to spare, still complaining the next morning about her tight jeans and how she couldn’t sleep on the plane. Losing…sympathy… At the QVC, she’s greeted like a big star. The QVC folks lose patience with her fast, though, as she micromanages every detail of her jewelry collection (“No! I didn’t want an indentation there! And that was supposed to be shinier!”). Paula, hilariously, keeps giving the camera Jim Halpern-style shrugs and eye-rolls, like we’re gonna be all, “Oh, those incompetent QVC-ers. If I had a nickel for every time they screwed up the finish on the bracelets I designed…”
Paula’s a bit worried about sale numbers since American Idol isn’t getting her free press that time of year, but she ends up selling out. Yay, Paula! At 5 a.m., after less than 24 hours at QVC, Paula heads back to LA. Wow, you guys. Is it possible that she’s just crazy all the time from exhaustion? This show is blowing my mind.
Bravo goes straight into the second episode, where we find Paula in New York receiving the Fashion Icon Award from the YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund. Fashion icon? Really? She’ll also be working on her fragrance line and doing American Idol press. She’s exhausted already. So one week, Paula’s talking about how she’s always the worst-dressed, and now she’s getting a fashion award? She looks at her speech for the first time fifteen minutes before the awards, which may have been a mistake. Oh, and she’s way late to the awards. And starving and tired. This is gonna rock. No, wait, this more than rocks…it ROCKS, ’cause Tim Gunn is presenting the award! Tim Gunn and Paula Abdul: A perfect storm of class and crazy.
Paula’s speech is…out of order. And upside down. And rather than fix the pages, she chooses to ad lib. It’s awkward. Her biggest laugh is a Simon joke. Reflect upon that, fair readers. I bet it’ll be a familiar refrain with this show. Afterwards, she meets Tim, who claims to adore her and calls her a role model. Losing…respect…for Tim… After hugging a few fashion students, Paula calls the evening magical and poses for the paparazzi. After an addled middle-of-the-night Starbucks run, she heads back to the hotel at 4 a.m. to not sleep, because she apparently has insomnia and sleeps no more than an hour a night. Man, that sucks. No wonder she’s crazy.
The next day at her perfume meeting, Paula smells little pieces of paper and people’s arms and says, “mmm.” It’s pretty funny. Then, she gets to wear a lab coat and play scientist. Which is also a funny image, as you can imagine. The whole time, she’s so tired she acts like a small, oddly affectionate child. Everyone just tries to laugh extra-hard at her jokes, and she’s barely conscious by the time she gets to her hotel. But does she sleep? Not so much. And she’s also sick. So the live satellite interviews for the American Idol press junket the next morning should go really well, right?
And yes. She’s completely insane in the interviews. All over the place, not answering questions well, and increasingly falling apart as the day goes on. And there are, like, 50 interviews. She tries to stay energetic, but as she loses focus her answers just seem totally unhinged. It’s actually pretty hard to watch, because she really does look like she’s on drugs or having a nervous breakdown or something. I’m going to vow right here, right now that I will never, EVER go without sleep for that long. Because it’s an ugly, ugly thing. And the resulting press is also an ugly thing–she’s drunk, high, self-destructing, etc. And she’s about as happy with that press as you’d expect. Sad to say, I think I’m one of those people who watched a clip on The Soup and assumed Paula was hitting the sauce on TV. Have I mentioned that this show is blowing my mind? Here’s hoping it continues to blow my mind all summer!
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