The new MTV series Lindsay Lohan’s Beach Club has it all: a beloved, controversial star, a gorgeous backdrop, and a cast of tanned and horny twentysomethings who will do anything on camera. It’s great on paper, but in practice, the show faces a number of insurmountable obstacles that make it almost unwatchable.
First and foremost: This Lindsay Lohan show is barely about Lindsay Lohan. And good for her! Lohan is clearly still navigating the trauma of being hounded by paparazzi and press her entire life. She rarely lets production into her own life, preferring to hand out little crumbs in the form of highly scripted sound bites and the requisite number of interactions with her attention-loving staff. In refusing to be a televised train wreck, Lohan is depriving us all of the kind of television we probably tuned in for, which is definitely for the best. Lindsay’s new catchphrase, “boss bitch,” is indicative of a star who’s sick of being exploited, and is ready to turn the cameras on someone else—in this case, a random assortment of nightlife professionals who grew up aspiring to have their smush room sessions recorded for posterity.
Unfortunately, Random VIP Hosts and Some Bartenders Beach Club doesn’t have the same draw as an intimate window into the life of a formerly A-List celeb. Without its supposed star, all that remains is a reality TV show that barely bothers to have a premise.
A group of Americans have been shipped in to work at Lohan’s Mykonos beach club, bartending and encouraging VIP clients to spend big on expensive bottles. The stakes are both blatantly low and inexplicably undefined, but when Lindsay does appear, it’s to give the hosts urgent lectures on professionalism. It’s difficult to buy any of this, when their unstated job responsibilities seem to include asking rich-looking people if they’d like to rent cabanas and keeping up the appearance of having fun. At one point, Lohan breaks down in tears when considering the eventuality that these made-for-reality-TV train wrecks will fuck up at work, endangering her club’s reputation and her “future.” Of course, “fucking up” is exactly what these kids have been shipped in from LA and Las Vegas to do. Lohan doesn’t need them to keep her beach club afloat—she needs them to manufacture some drama for the show so she can read her opening lines, do a funny dance move and clock out for the day.
It’s clear that not everything Lohan says during these staged interactions is salvageable. This results in some heavily edited scenes that aren’t even trying to resemble reality. Take the night when Lohan shows up at the VIP host house unannounced to introduce herself, and is shocked to find one of the hostesses swimming in the pool without a shirt on. “When you meet your boss, don’t show up in a bra,” Lohan narrates, as if she had already forgotten the specific circumstances of the manufactured meeting she just filmed. “It’s like me going to meet Steven Spielberg in a bra,” she concludes, storming out of the house she just stormed into. At other points, Lohan, clearly a reality TV consumer herself, wonders if her cast is there for “the right reasons.” She does not seem to understand that the show she is currently starring on is literally about nothing, and has no higher purpose than the production of passable programming.
The viewer’s first instinct is to feel bad for Lindsay Lohan, a once promising and beloved actress who’s been reduced to a figurehead, periodically emerging, skeletal and caftan’d, from her oceanside Cabana. But if the stilted, not-quite-there Lohan of Beach Club is able to authentically convey one thing, it’s resilience. This might not be the comeback Lohan wanted, but she’s dead set on working with the hand she’s been dealt. And at the heart of this utterly soulless show, there’s a shockingly poignant story. During one of many awkward, clearly for-the-cameras conversations between Lohan and her business partner, Panos, Lindsay references a time when her ex-boyfriend hit her on the beach in Mykonos. In a subsequent talking-head interview, Lohan explains, “I was in a very tumultuous relationship… Instead of crying or getting angry, I said I’m going to own this beach one day, because I always want everyone to feel safe.”
A day club catering to drunk tourists and Eurotrash billionaires isn’t everyone’s idea of a safe space, but it’s a vision that Lohan was able to make into a reality. Given Lindsay’s deep ties to the beach club, it’s even harder to buy that she would purposefully pollute her waterfront with this influx of American VIP hosts. Lohan calls the hosts “ambassadors,” adding that, “It’s their job to represent the Lohan brand.” To find the right talent for this important task, Lindsay and Panos sit down with a binder full of hot trash, including Jules, who works for a company that hires models to do bottle service, and Brent, whose friends affectionately refer to him as the “waitress slayer.” Without articulating the actual criteria of this job search, Lohan issues judgments like “I think she seems determined and humble” and “she just wants to be one of the Jenners.” Panos is worried that this group of nightlife professionals may not understand the difference between a day club and a night club. He quickly goes from 0 to 60, threatening, “If they do something wrong, I’m going to kill them.”
The VIP hosts arrive in Mykonos and are taken to tour the club. Bartender Mike is in awe of the classy cabanas and day beds, which make him feel like a “chic god… when really I’m trash.” Later on Mike, king of relatable sound bites, reveals that he’s bi but becomes straighter whenever he’s in New Jersey. Jonitta is worried that “just being pretty and showing up with good vibes” isn’t going to be enough for her new boss, Lindsay Lohan. Brent announces that he’s in Mykonos to find “bae,” before specifying that he likes “exotic, Middle Eastern, European-type girls.” (…) He immediately sets his sights on Sara, who is more accustomed to dating professional athletes.
The VIP hosts are getting to know each other at their villa/drinking full handles of vodka in the pool when Lohan suddenly arrives. Lindsay and Panos are there to tell Gabi, a blue-haired hostess, that she needs to dye her hair because the club’s DJ has blue hair too, and “I can’t have two people with blue hair, they’re not Avatars.” The cast is shuffled out of the pool to sit down with Lindsay, because she’s decided to ask them about their hopes and dreams. This leads to an uncomfortable scene in which Gabi appears to be physically incapable of shutting up, interrupting the other hosts to talk about her passion for giving medical exams to the homeless community and also to clarify that she’s black, to which Lindsay responds, “You don’t look that white.” Lindsay asks Jules if she’s a Buddhist (she’s not), and then shares that she personally meditates three times a day, before warning Jules that, “I’m going to watch you very closely, because you’re very religious” (she’s not). Brent is pissed that Gabi monopolized their special moment with Lindsay; a post storm-out Lohan tells Panos that, “I have no emotion when it comes to money and business.”
The next day, the hosts show up for their very serious jobs at the crack of 1 p.m. Panos shits on Brent’s white blazer before assigning him to a big VIP, Natasha, whom he describes as “the worst client ever.” The other hosts are tasked with luring clients into the cabanas, and generally encouraging people to spend money. What follows is a genuinely interesting window into the gendered dynamics of being a VIP host, a job that basically consists of pretending to get drunk and being hit on by customers. It quickly becomes clear that Panos has handed Brent over to their VIP client as a sex toy. At one point, VIP Natasha and Brent are getting “frisky” while shopping for bathing suits alongside Lindsay, and Lohan explicitly tells him, “I’m not judging, you’re just working.”
Brent is proud of himself for following orders and giving the client what she wanted. Meanwhile, Jonitta opines that, “There’s such a double standard when it comes to work, and Brent was able to get away with it because it was a female client. If it was the other way around I would have been ripped apart for it.” She raises the very legitimate point that she was called out by Panos for “partying” too hard, when Brent spent the day swimming, drinking, and making out with his client. The hosts are divided on whether or not Brent was being unprofessional or is actually just really good at his job. Brent tells Jonitta that she’s only there to stand around and look pretty, and she accuses him of having a little dick. Lindsay tells host May that, “You really look like you need to figure something out in your life,” and teaches her business partner Panos the word “ricochet.” All in a day’s work!
The episode ends with some more canned wisdom from Lohan, who emphasizes that, “This is not a summer vacation… If their intention is not to do a good job and work hard, that’s not going to fly with me.”