The new docudrama series that follows Paula Abdul in her day-to-day life debuts tonight on Bravo at 10 p.m. ET, with two back-to-back episodes. Hey Paula is a half-hour show, which is a change from Bravo’s typically hour-long docudramas, and seven episodes will air.
The show promises “an unfiltered, real-life look at the “American Idol” judge, entrepreneur, choreographer and multi-platinum artist, giving insight and context to Abdul’s much-reported on professional and personal life.”
While it delivers on that promise, the first episode, which was sent to critics, is quite unpleasant and at times verging on boring. The season preview promises to include Paula’s televised breakdown earlier this year, but the first episode mostly features Paula being an annoying diva to her personality-less entourage. She gets mad at them for things like bringing the wrong color tennis shoes for a flight, because she apparently can’t pack her own suitcase. That’s insightful, but not exactly humanizing.
Occasionally, she’s genuinely funny–why can’t she be that way on American Idol?–or emotionally vulnerable, but the first 22 minutes move too quickly to really develop any sympathy for her, especially when she’s being obnoxious and demanding. At least Kathy Griffin is hysterical when she’s (pretending to be) obnoxious and demanding.
Other critics seem to agree: The Washington Post’s writes that the “world as depicted in ‘Hey Paula’ is a rather dull place,” while The Boston Herald’s Mark A. Perigard calls the series “another public relations blunder in a year that has not been kind to her.” And The New York Daily News’ David Bianculli says “a deeper look into her daily life doesn’t make her more interesting, or more relatable.”