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Anna Nicole Smith's TV show is an obscene train wreck

Anna Nicole Smith’s TV show is an obscene train wreck. A slurring Smith debuts her E! series, but Ken Tucker says it isn’t funny, it’s just pathetic

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Anna Nicole Smith
Anna Nicole Smith Photograph by Seth Joel

Anna Nicole Smith’s TV show is an obscene train wreck

”You’re so outrageous!” trill the voices in the theme song to ”The Anna Nicole Show,” but based on Sunday night’s premiere episode, the lyric should be changed to ”You’re so sad!” The E! channel, aping MTV in following around a celebrity of fading popularity who’ll say anything in front of a camera, certainly doesn’t have ”The Osbournes” on its hands — it has a human train wreck.

The debut of ”The Anna Nicole Show” was preceded by a two-hour ”E! True Hollywood Story” profiling Anna Nicole Smith, following her rise to semifame as a voluptuous model and then her descent into courtrooms, where she has fought for half the fortune of her late, multimillionaire husband, J. Howard Marshall. It was a depressing saga, mostly because it documented the desperation of a young Texan woman to become rich, famous, and happy, very nearly attaining her goal, but who has now ended up an unhappy figure of E! ridicule.

The ”plot” of the opening half-hour consisted of following Smith as she looked for a new house, dragging along her lawyer Howard K. Stern, her purple-haired assistant Kim, and her tiny dog Sweetie Pie. Smith wore a plunging-neckline top, which she kept adjusting while saying things like ”These bad boys are trying to get out.” (Talk about being alienated from one’s own body.)

Throughout, Smith talked in a slurry moan; since there were framing shots that showed her speaking in a clear manner, it was impossible not to believe that during the house-hunting filming, she must have been under some sort of sedation. She made numerous references to the size of her backside. Walking through one house, she said abruptly, ”Hold on — I gotta eat something.”

I felt a pang of sorrow for Smith’s 16 year-old son, Daniel, whom Smith calls on the phone. Her fuzzed voice barely forming words that turn into the cooing some people do with babies, Smith practically begs Daniel to tell her he loves and misses her; instead, the poor kid looks dazed and embarrassed. He’s the most intelligent person on screen.

”It’s not supposed to be funny — it just is!” says E!’s ad campaign for the show. Sorry, not so. At one point, lawyer Stern tells Smith that some young people just drove by, saw the E! cameras, and asked if they were ”making a porno movie.” Jokingly, Smith says yes, they are.

The thing is, it’s no joke. In exploiting a barely coherent Anna Nicole Smith, E! is doing something that comes pretty close to being obscene.