Kirstie Alley’s second stab at “owning” her weight gain through a television series, Big Life, premiered last night on A&E. Unlike Fat Actress, which was a desperate scripted attempt to laugh louder at herself than anyone else through the use of many frosted props, Big Life is a contrived “reality” journey through her voyage of weight loss. Ironic, then, that while the series’ “arc” is all about learning moderation (and will likely be an origin story to her own allegedly Scientology-funded diet grog), the show itself — as it displays Alley’s life — is a how-to model of gluttony.
For six seasons, Alley played hilarious failure Rebecca on Cheers, a run that amassed her a fortune that now allows her to idly putter around in an enormous mansion that seems to exist solely to allow her space to indulge her Twitter habit and maintain her own personal lemur zoo. As with every celebrity reality show, the humor in Big Life is supposed to come out of her interaction with her sprawling staff: There’s a stylist, an assistant, a gay assistant to her assistant, and a handyman who are employed to help her … do what? Pad around her giant home and whine about the paparazzi? She is turning into Howard Hughes, if Hughes had made his money in syndication.
It must be hard to lose weight when your entire existence is a metaphor for indulgence. She is her own economy, her own planet: Her employees exist for no other reason than to keep her cloistered life revolving. Watch the moment below in which she squats in her lemur cage, demanding that her stylist help her “look pretty” for New Year’s Eve, which she will either spend in New York or Los Angeles: Who can choose? It’s the kind of scene that usually happens in a French Revolution movie about a half-hour before the peasants revolt.