Imagine a world scripted by Shonda Rhimes.
A world filled with scandal, sex, intrigue and gossip, it would be peopled by schemers and dreamers who manipulate, lie and cheat their way to selfish ends – while looking fabulous.
That's the world view of the tabloids, and they see quotidian events through this warped and color-saturated lens, turning cold reality into their super-heated vision of the planet as the stage for a high-budget soap opera with top production values.
"Charles Unfit To Be King! New Government Dossier!" screams the front page of the 'National Enquirer,' clearly promising a government report unlike any other before it, and sounding more like an epistle from the pen of 'Bridgerton gossip maven' Lady Whistledown.
Evidently the report paints Prince Charles as this soap opera's villain: "Linked to Diana's death! Battling early dementia! Kinky secret sex life!"
Naturally, it's a "world exclusive," because you'd expect the financially strapped 'Enquirer,' with its massive budget cuts and staff reductions, to have a team of investigative journalists to beat all of Fleet Street's Royal reporters to this scoop.
The "damning dossier," assuming for a moment that it exists, allegedly claims that Charles is suffering early onset dementia, is implicated in Princess Diana's purported murder, and "dishes up details on his sex life" with "persistent speculation for years that Charles' lovers included men and women" – which amounts to "kinky" sex in the eyes of the 'Enquirer' – all according to an unnamed "insider."
That's an incredibly wide-ranging government report, to be sure, and also one whose existence is about as likely as the Sasquatch and the Loch Ness monster so beloved of the tabloids.
"Streisand's Secret Addiction," reports the 'Enquirer.' "Superstar's $400m fortune is at risk!"
Is actress-singer-director-producer Barbra Streisand hooked on booze? Drugs? Pills? Sex?
That's the implication in this Scandal-ready headline, but the story is less than salacious.
Streisand is allegedly "addicted" to playing the stock market. And since stocks can go down in price as well as up, her "fortune is at risk," the rag claims, as if she's betting it all on GameStop and AMC.
Shonda Rhimes produced hit TV series 'How To Get Away With Murder,' and for years of tabloid coverage that has been the underlying theme behind the death of troubled model Anna Nicole Smith, found dead of a drug overdose in Florida in 2007.
"Anna Nicole 14 years after tragedy – What Really Killed Her!" declares the 'Globe' cover story.
Friends and family claimed that Smith had been "murdered in cold blood," the rag reports, but finally the 'Globe' can reveal what the rest of the world has known all along: "there was NO evidence of foul play!"
Billed as an "Exclusive Globe Interview," the rag interviews former Broward County chief medical examiner Joshua Perper, who reveals that Anna Nicole Smith died from a cocktail of nine prescription drugs – just as the autopsy he conducted revealed when she died in 2007. There's nothing new here; the 'Globe' has simply spoken to the Coroner who has repeated his findings from 14 years ago.
Unsurprisingly, the 'Globe' concludes: "Anna Nicole Smith didn't have to die!" The Coroner claims that Smith "would still be alive" if she had checked into a medical facility instead of taking so many drugs before bed. Right. And Jim Belushi, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin et al would still be alive if they hadn't taken the drugs that caused them to overdose – and they'd all be really old.
Perhaps Smith might not have died that night in 2007, but how does the 'Globe' know that 14 years later she'd "still be alive" today? That's some powerful prognosticating.
In Shonda Rhimes' world everyone is desperate to be richer, thinner and more beautiful – usually despite already being wealthy, slender and drop dead gorgeous – and that ethos is embraced by 'Us' magazine with this week's cover story devoted to Demi Moore: "Obsessed With Looking Young – Demi's Cry For Help!"
The actress evidently walked the Fendi catwalk at last month's Paris Fashion Week displaying uncharacteristically carved cheekbones, which 'Us' magazine flaunts across its cover, along with the implication that she has undergone cosmetic surgery or radical procedures to produce her "dramatic new face."
Moore's cheekbones certainly look unnatural on the mag's cover, but the story inside includes a photograph of her only two days later looking her usual self. Any reasonable person – clearly not a qualification required for employment by 'Us' mag – would conclude that Moore's "cry for help" was simply some over-enthusiastic make-up contouring by whoever prepared her for the catwalk, rather than face-altering cosmetic surgery. But that doesn't stop the rag offering its armchair psychology analysis of how Moore has never recovered emotionally from the blow of her divorce from her last husband, Ashton Kutcher.
And if Moore wanting to look younger was truly a "cry for help," then surely almost every actress in Hollywood over the age of 30 is crying out for help too?
It's widely accepted that basketball icon Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash last year as a result of pilot error during bad weather, but this week the 'Globe' finally declares: "Kobe Death Crash Mystery Solved!" The rag reports that an NTSB expert "claims human error and weather conditions" were to blame for the Lakers star's fatal chopper accident – just as everyone has been saying for the past year. No mystery, no solution.
It's all smoke and mirrors, as is the 'Enquirer' story about Julia Roberts allegedly falling out with Natalie Portman: "Lipstick Wars! Competing deals dull the gloss on Julia and Natalie's friendship."
Virtually every female celebrity has their own makeup brand and lipstick line, but when Natalie Portman launched her own lipstick the 'Enquirer' claims it's a direct blow to her friendship with Julia Roberts, who also has a lipstick line.
It's unclear why Portman's lipstick line was not viewed as a snub to those hawked by Kim Kardashian or Drew Barrymore or Kat Von D or Kylie Jenner or Rihanna, or any of the many other stars who flog lipstick on the side.
Then there's the wishful thinking of the 'Enquirer' report on Tom Cruise's daughter: "Isabella Cruise Ready To Get Baby on Board!"
She isn't pregnant, it seems, but the 'Enquirer' says that Isabella is "ready to take the plunge" after five years of marriage to fellow Scientologist Max Parker.
The tabloid can't go wrong with this story: If Isabella gets pregnant, they made a lucky guess; if she doesn't get pregnant they can eventually write about Isabella's heartache as she fails to get pregnant. Win-win (except for Isabella and the truth.)
'People' magazine devotes its cover to President Joe Biden and his First Lady Jill, granting their first joint interview to the glossy mag often favored by politicians for its safe, fawning softball questions and heavy Photoshop retouching of their cover photos.
The Bidens are no exception, looking like overly-Botoxed waxworks on the cover, and revealing nothing deeply personal or insightful in their interview, though it's open for debate whether it's cute or annoying how Jill Biden finishes her husband's sentences.
"We share each other's dreams," says the President. Isn't that how Freddy Krueger got started?
Thankfully we have the crack investigative squad at 'Us' mag to tell us that Jessica Simpson wore it best (take that Cardi B, Kendall Jenner, Alexa Chung and Suki Waterhouse – that'll teach you to buy a fox fur coat everyone else is wearing), that actress Lorraine Toussaint "can't swim," and that the stars are just like us: they hike, walk their dogs, eat healthily (acai bowls) and unhealthily (Baskin-Robbins ice-cream cakes.)
Just days into the Biden presidency, the 'Globe' boasts an ad offering: "A Rare Tribute to America's 46th President of the United States."
It's the irresistible offer of an 11-inch high "handcrafted and handprinted" figurine of Joe Biden. Presumably it's "rare" because he's only been president for two weeks. Just wait until America is awash in Joe Biden figurines, statues and bobbleheads. But if you want to be the first one on your block to have a President Joseph R. Biden Limited Edition Figurine, its yours for only $99.99 plus shipping and handling.
Onwards and downwards . . .