Critics Need to Chill Out About Lindsay Lohan Playing Liz Taylor, Writes Ardent Mean Girls Fan

In spite of — or because of, you masochistic television viewer, you — the thoroughly terrible Liz & Dick trailer, you probably won't be able to help yourself from at least DVRing Lindsay Lohan's small screen biopic comeback when it premieres on Lifetime Nov. 25. Maybe this is because you really liked Mean Girls and that's enough to make you believe that Lindz will make for an entertaining-enough Liz Taylor. Maybe you hate yourself and want to cap off another horrifying Thanksgiving weekend at your ancestral home with a 40-ounce bottle of Barefoot Merlot and a Liz & Dick viewing with your Aunt Charlotte who will annoyingly keep flipping back to Sunday night football because she has money on the Packers to beat the spread. Whatever the reason, you should quit bellyaching about how Lindsay Lohan is a sorry stand-in for Liz Taylor because a) of all, nobody is ever going to be as good as Liz Taylor, and b) of all, Taylor would have totally supported Lohan because Hollywood is a saw-toothed monster and the former child actors that get stuck in its jaws have to stick together.

That's more or less the gist of a longish defense from The Hollywood Reporter's most guileless Mean Girls fan, M.G. Lord of the choice to cast Lohan in the upcoming Taylor biopic. Ahead of a Nov. 16 press screening of Liz & Dick, Lord wants remind "knife-sharpening" critics to consider the fact that Lindsay Lohan might not make such a bad Liz Taylor, because, you know, she'll be able to draw on a childhood spent in the unrelenting Hollywood spotlight and a young adulthood mired in scandal, substance abuse, and uneasy personal relationships. Maybe Lindsay Lohan isn't destined to be an actress of Taylor's caliber, argues Lord, but the two have biographical details enough in common to make Liz & Dick legitimately interesting:

But people should give Lohan a chance because she has so much in common with Taylor (including an upsetting "flirtation" with Republicanism). And because after a few bumpy, party-girl years, Taylor evolved at the dawn of the AIDS crisis into one of the great moral voices of the 20th century. In the 1970s, when Taylor's principal interests appeared to be bourbon, Demerol and Studio 54, she seemed as unlikely a candidate for moral leadership as Lohan does now. Yet Taylor grew and triumphed, which is why I beg you not to write off Lohan.

Lord launches a full-on plea for prospective viewers to take Lindsay Lohan seriously, which would be fine (if not just a little histrionic) except for the fact that Liz & Dick is a Lifetime movie, and Lifetime movies are, almost unanimously, trash. We're talking about the basic cable network that has, for the better part of the last decade, made its mark by presenting lurid melodramas about abusive spouses and murderously competitive high school gymnasts. No one can seriously expect a network that festoons Rob Lowe's beautiful upper lip with a silver mustache and calls him Drew Peterson to even want itself to be taken seriously, since most everything that comes down the Lifetime production pipeline one heartbeat away from camp.

This, of course, is what makes Lifetime movies such a delightful indulgence, but it's also what makes building Liz & Dick up as Lindsay Lohan's big comeback a cruelly ironic joke from the movie's producers. Even though TV movies aren't nearly as awful or ignominious as they used to be (since all the basic cable networks are trying to make some of that original programming scratch), starring in a teleplay is still a pretty reliable indication that a former star has pretty much fallen. I mean, if you saw, say, Christian Slater appearing in a made-for-TV movie about a minor-league baseball player you've never heard of, you wouldn't think, "Christian Slater is back, baby, and a Pump Up the Volume sequel is so in the works."

Lohan is still really young, so maybe there is chance for a full-fledged comeback, but, for the time being, she's just starring in a TV biopic, so, explains Lord, everyone lamenting the decision to cast her as Taylor should get some perspective, just like Taylor's daughter Liza Todd has:

Taylor's daughter Liza Todd is also unhappy, confides Vicky Tiel, a Paris-based dress designer who was Taylor's closest friend during the Burton years. Tiel describes a recent dinner where Todd professed horror at the idea of Lohan as her mother. "But Liza calmed down," says Tiel, "when people pointed out: It's only TV."

Hopefully, It's Only TV doesn't stick as the title for a future Lindsay Lohan biopic, but you'll only be able to know that if you turn a judgment-free eye towards Lifetime on Nov. 25.

A Plea on Behalf of Brainy Girls: Give Lindsay Lohan a Chance [THR]