Making Mommy Dearest Look Good

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One’s an unstoppable momager, traversing Long Island in her custom-upholstered Range Rover, always on the phone. The other’s obsessed with pigs and big “dicks,” as she says several times on camera, while talking about the loves of her life.

OK, so it’s no revelation that the ever-growing “celeb-reality” genre is proof that the end of days is upon us. Granted, the shows are lower than low, but at least the cheesy B- and D-listers who’ve starred in previous versions knew they were out of career options and chose the nasty self-sploitation instead.

Whereas what’s maddening about Living Lohan and Denise Richards: It’s Complicated, two shows launched recently as part of E’s “Summer Funplex,” is that both Mama Bear Dina and farm girl Denise claim they are participating to disprove the tabloids that continue to “trash” them and prove that their lives are, as Richards puts it, “all about family.” And as Dina Lohan says, “I want people to know we’re, like, normal.”

And with that, these two cable programs establish that the new definition of insanity is doing a reality show to prove just how “like, normal” you are. The Lohan show is totally odious, in a depths of hell way that would suggest Dina’s head might explode while she becomes possessed with the voice of Hulk Hogan. On the other hand, poor Denise Richards’ show is not so much odious as odoriferous — there’s no poop at all, in the celebrity sense, just in the actual pig droppings sense, and there’s a ton of that.

Before I saw her show, I actually felt sorry for her. You’d think being married to and then going through a public divorce from Charlie Sheen would be punishment enough. And there actually might be a touching story in how, after the recent death of her mother from cancer, her father has moved in with Denise and her two young daughters. We don’t see her interact with her daughters much. Instead, she appears to be obsessed with getting one of her two pet pigs pregnant. “She’d be an amazing mom,” she confides to the camera. And thus begins a telephonic quest for choice pig sperm.

Now getting on the phone in front of cameras to ask for pig sperm is a weird thing to do, when the whole point of the show is to clear up the “misconceptions” about her past, including the claim that she e-mailed her ex, asking for his sperm. But it’s a major plot point. That and the requisite set-up date with a gay guy.

But the date, who does not measure up to the kinds of guys she likes (the aforementioned “bad boys with dark hair and big dicks), allows us to watch her preparing, by getting in the bath — a creepy scene that reeks of desperation. When her “tanning specialist” comes over to spray paint her nude body in the shower, it’s just Girls Gone Tiled.

Really, without all the bathing and pig shit, there’s nothing much to write about — except that in the best Hollywood tradition, her assistant has an assistant. The assistant to the assistant’s job pretty much involves picking up pig shit. Really, in a world gone mad, why spoon-feed us such easy metaphors?

There are so many layers of duplicity in Living Lohan that it’s far more of a mindblower. I knew about Dina’s completely deluded attempt to be the “white Oprah,” the partying with Lindsay, etc., which Tracy Ullman captured perfectly in her parody. But until I saw Living Lohan, I had no idea how tough and paranoid she could be. In the show, she comes off as part Tony Soprano in an embellished hoodie and part Richard Nixon with a big French manicure.

Apparently, she starts every day in the same Nixonian way: combing through the tabloids looking for “lies” about Lindsay. So if the point is that we won’t have Lindsay to kick around any more, why is the show based on launching her younger daughter Ali’s career as a “recording artist?” I could see if music just flowed out of the kid and she already spent her days writing, composing and playing her own songs that she might want to continue. But Ali seems to be as talented as your average 14-year-old who sings to her iPod. Does the world really need another entirely manufactured adolescent voice and persona? Or is the concept to pit the Spears and Lohan families in a death match to see which pair of sisters can be ruined faster?

Here’s where Living Lohan pulls off the triple axel of deception: Ali’s “recording contract” is with the Maloofs, who happen to be executive producers of the show and are obviously using it — way beyond product placement — to promote their various hotels and recording studios in Las Vegas.

But first the 14-year-old, who is made up to look 25, has to find the right song, and mom uses her camera time to prove how much she cares about her child as an artist. “I will not jam a bad record down her throat. She doesn’t want to sing just for the sake of doing a song,” she says, impersonating Mother Teresa.

But no matter how cynical you get, you just can’t keep up when it comes to Mama Lohan’s outrage at a Web site showing what she claims is a faked photo of Lindsay involved in a sex act. “Ali and Cody have to go to school every day and face their schoolmates,” she says. (Cody is the 11-year-old son who comes in and out wearing various sports garb; he did some modeling as a little kid, but these days, lucky for him, seems totally neglected.)

But perhaps the most painful moment in the Land of Total Denial is when Ali faces the camera and explains, “Lindsay is my total role model.”

This is worse than dumb. In getting her dream, her own reality show, Mrs. Lohan sees herself as a “lioness protecting her cubs.” But according to this “reality,” she’s less lion and more madam. And, I’m sorry to break her bubble, but pimping out her daughter like this for the sake of her dream of “being the white Oprah” is worse than distasteful. It borders on abuse.