Forget everything you've ever heard about Tori Spelling. OK, maybe not everything. Its true, her dad is the most successful TV producer of all time and she did spend a decade playing the virginal Donna Martin on his hit show "Beverly Hills 90210." But now that Tori has left that zip code and her parents' mansion behind, she wants the same things we all do: friendship, respect, and love. Used to tabloid scrutiny, Tori navigates life with a self-deprecating sense of humor and the support of a loyal crew of friends shes know since high school, along with her devoted manager, her beloved nanny, and her ever scrutinizing mother Kiki, the ultimate Beverly Hills housewife.
So what do you do if your hit TV show went off the air in 2000, your last studio film was Scary Movie 2
, and you've become tabloid fodder and a sure-fire pop culture punchline? If you're plucky Tori Spelling, you go the Fat Actress
route and co-create and bravely star in a TV series that takes a self-deprecating look at your life. In an interview with Tori included amongst the ample bonus features, she reveals this series was born out of "years of people laughing at me." Making lemonade out of her lemon of a career, she seems to have taken Robin Williams' maxim to heart: "Joke 'em if they can't take a (blank)." While this is decidedly a fictionalized portrayal, there is, with a bow towards Stephen Colbert, a playful "truthiness" to So NoTORious
that will appeal to her fans and even her detractors. There are, at her expense, plastic surgery jokes, eating disorder jokes, and, hitting way close to home, nepotism jokes, as when Tori insists to uber-producer father, Aaron (cleverly heard, but not seen, a la Charlie in Charlie's Angels
) that she thinks it best if she gets her own acting jobs, adding, "Unless, of course, you want to buy me a studio... No, daddy, don't do it. I was just kidding."
Through miserable dates, disastrous parties, and career setbacks, So NoTORIous is nearly as cringe-worthy as Curb Your Enthusiasm, although unlike the irascible Larry David, our heart goes out to the hapless Tori, game as she is to somehow right the ship of public perception of her as a "spoiled Beverly Hills princess who's had everything handed to her." "I'm trying to keep a low profile," she complains at one point, and accordingly, the series does not feature many star cameos or appearances by her Beverly Hills 90210 costars. Farrah Fawcett does a nifty turn as herself in the episode "Plucky," and Whoopi Goldberg appears as a psychic in "Cursed" ("You are a wretched, miserable soul," she divines). Making a welcome return to the small screen is Loni Anderson (WKRP in Cincinnati) as Tori's neglectful and self-absorbed mother (which certainly couldn't have helped the well-publicized real-life rift between Tori and her mater). Who knows where Tori's career goes from here? Based on So NoTORIous, there could be a Suddenly Susan in her future! --Donald Liebenson