In an age that’s witnessed Britney in rehab and Lohan in jail, the public today is accustomed to outlandish celebrity exploits in the media. Yet Harry Hamlin (“L.A. Law”) and spouse Lisa Rinna (“Melrose Place”) hope to reveal the quieter, more mundane side of what it means to be a celebrity with their new show “Harry Loves Lisa,” which premiered on TV Land on Wednesday. The show centers on the couple’s relationship as they navigate the ups and downs of raising a family in the frenzied Hollywood lifestyle, but it fails in one very important aspect: These are not two celebrities we care to know anything about.
“Harry Loves Lisa”
Wednesdays at 10 p.m.
Hamlin is a stay-at-home dad who left acting behind to raise the couple’s two daughters. The pilot shows Hamlin facing the pivotal decision of how to break back into the industry he left behind. He cuts his hair, attends an acting class and finally decides to mix it up by performing a mildly successful stand-up comedy routine. Rinna, on the other hand, is plagued by her own set of celebrity woes: A PR issue regarding another actress comes back to haunt her, she struggles with the roles of loving mother and supporting wife, but most important she frets about the size and the shape of her oh-so-important upper lip.
While it’s refreshing at times for a reality show to be so, for lack of a better word, real — this is also the show’s fundamental flaw. Neither Hamlin nor Rinna are famous or intriguing enough to warrant an entire series about their lives. Watching Hamlin agonize over an audition and Rinna deal with her PR issues feels like an awkward combination of HBO’s “Entourage” mixed with “The Real World,” aged by 25 years. The interviews with Hamlin and Rinna that are littered about the episode are almost as bland as Hamlin’s trademark expression of dumbfounded confusion. And since there’s no gimmick to the show (it’s literally just their everyday lives) the conflict is practically nonexistent.
Granted, at times it’s endearing to watch the two care for each other in a sort of genuine, albeit all too stereotypical celebrity-couple way, but it’s not enough to hold the viewer’s attention. Both Hamlin and Rinna seem to walk through the episode as though it’s merely a stepping stone to landing their next jobs, which in all likelihood is exactly what they think.
But like the episode’s main subjects, the viewer finishes feeling tired and guilty (and not in that good “guilty pleasure” kind of way) for devoting a full half hour to the lives of two boring celebrities. As Hamlin himself mentions in his short-lived stand-up routine: “I’m not a comic, I’m an actor.” Well maybe they should have kept at it, because any character’s life would be far more interesting than Hamlin’s and Rinna’s.