There’s a moment in the premiere episode of “Ke$ha: My Crazy Beautiful Life,” about two-thirds of the way through, when our heroine meets a fan before a show in Manchester who presents her with a book that expresses the thoughts he’s too afraid to say aloud to her. The pages explain that the boy, probably all of 15, has had it rough at school, but her song “Animal” has helped him soldier through. He tells her he doesn’t know where he’d be without her. It’s a sobering moment that reflects on the power of a pop star, or any celebrity for that matter, and the look on Ke$ha‘s face throughout the encounter proves none of this is lost on her.
It’s a powerful moment; it wouldn’t be hard to imagine a series built around an unconventional pop star like Ke$ha that focuses on moments like these, examining the relationship they have with their fans. This isn’t that show. While that aspect of her life certainly seems to hold a genuine importance on the singer, the fact that this show is airing on MTV and not, say, HBO, means it couldn’t have that singular focus even if it wanted to.
Which isn’t to say that the show exactly feels like it wants to. The show is the culmination of cameras having followed Ke$ha for the last two years, beginning with her first headlining tour in April of 2011. The premiere is especially busy, which may be owed in part to the fact that two years of a pop star’s life need to be condensed into 10 22-minute chunks, at the most.
In the episode, we see the singer’s first headlining show in NYC, watch her read the New York Times review of said show (spoiler: it’s not so complimentary), learn about her first love Harold, watch her stalk him in California, learn of her (most-likely justified) grudge against Perez Hilton for his incessant “bullying” of her on his website, follow her to Europe to perform at Glastonbury, see her meet the adoring fan spoken about above, and learn she’s lost her voice just before her big performance. All in one half-hour episode!
Beyond the problem of trying to show too much in too little time, there’s also an issue of tone. Ke$ha has built herself an image of someone who doesn’t take herself very seriously and there are glimpses of the self-reflexive humor one would expect, but all that is completely undone by a cloying narration that takes itself way too seriously. Perhaps the issue is that it’s Ke$ha’s brother Lagan behind the camera and not an impartial documentarian. It would be much more interesting if the scripted narration was replaced with off-the-cuff interview footage, allowing for more authenticity and humor.
That’s not to say the show can’t, and won’t, be fun. Ke$ha is a more-than-worthy subject of a docu-series. While I’m not sure this will reach the heights that recent biopics “Beyonce: Life Is But a Dream” or “Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work” were able to, artistically, the premiere has at least proven that this won’t be a retread of the incredibly ill-advised “Britney & Kevin: Chaotic.”
Will you be adding “Ke$ha: My Crazy Beautiful Life” to your viewing schedule?