If you've been hungry for a retelling of the racism controversy that chewed through Paula Deen's career this summer and rendered her a blubbering train wreck, check out the above clip from her E! True Hollywood Story, which aired last night. Though Deen did not sit down with E! for an exclusive interview, her sons Jamie and Bobby Deen and husband, Michael Groover, did, which may explain why the show went so easy on her.
Though two full segments of the one-hour show were devoted to Deen's racism scandal, much was omitted, including her alleged wish to recreate an antebellum atmosphere during her brother Bubba's wedding, as well as the two hilariously incompetent pseudo-apologies Deen posted (and deleted...and reposted...and deleted again, in the case of the first one) following her initial cancellation of her Today appearance. As Deen did herself in her deposition for the lawsuit brought by former employee Lisa T. Jackson, her admission of using the word "nigger" after being robbed by a black man when she worked at a bank was conveniently explained away (note: a negative experience with a person of color does not give you a get out of racism free card).
As Rev. Dr. Leonard Small, a black man, explained to the camera, "I said, 'Wait a minute. Twenty or thirty years ago?' I came out of the old South. I know how this goes. That would not make this a racist statement. That might make this racially insensitive at the time, but that does not make Paula Deen a racist." Maybe she is, maybe she isn't, but because the show came down firmly on the latter side, framing her bumbling antics as bad PR moves instead of moral instability or worse, the show came off as propaganda.
Later we heard words of support from Jimmy Carter, Anthony Bourdain, and Gordon Elliott, who said that Deen's ridiculous display on the Today show was a result of her being traumatized because "no one was giving her a break." A crisis manager reflected on that appearance by saying, "Was it a win? I don't know if it was a win. But it was raw. The whole story was raw."
Spin, spin, spin. These people and the entire production, for that matter, went out of their way to sop up as much of Deen's sloppy race gravy as possible. Why? Is E! somehow attempting to facilitate a comeback for Deen, and if so, can it please be a half hour show of her stressed out, winging it, and blubbering because seriously the woman has never been more entertaining than when in career crisis this summer.