I’d call VH1’s So NoTORIous a guilty pleasure, but I’m really not that guilty about liking it. I know, it’s a pop trifle next to an epic of celebrity self-absorption like Curb Your Enthusiasm, but La Spelling knows you expect pop trifles from her, and she works furiously not to disappoint.
Granted, it’s not novel for a star to build a show around her selfless willingness to let her writers make any joke at her expense, no matter how merciless. (I laughed at Kirstie Alley’s similarly self-flagellating Fat Actress too – make of that what you will). But what is unique is the execution. Unlike other celeb-reality sitcoms that belong to the Larry David/Ricky Gervais school, where embarrassing moments are followed by squirmy, lingering silences (a technique taken to such extremes in The Comeback that it wasn’t really a comedy at all), So NoTORIous has a pace that doesn’t let up. It’s just one humiliation after another, bing-bang-boom, no let-up, but after each one, our perky, optimistic heroine pops back up, unfazed, like a Weeble. Watch this week’s episode for yourself (it’s streaming at VH1.com; there’s a sequence in a sex-toy shop that’s a little too PG-13 to watch at work), in which Spelling lampoons her own lack of serious thespian skills, the nepotism that launched her career, and her apparently lingering fear of Shannen Doherty.