Pop art icon Andy Warhol returns from the grave to narrate this Netflix docuseries from producer Ryan Murphy. Warhol speaks from beyond the veil thanks to a new artificial intelligence program… and a little help from actor Bill Irwin, who narrates passages from Warhol’s journals. The show also features extensive interviews with a number of his close friends and associates, including John Waters, Jerry Hall, Bob Colacello, Mariel Hemingway, Rob Lowe, and more.
Warhol famously cultivated his aloof image, dodging questions about his sexuality and romantic life. Diaries peels away the veneer, portraying the man as neurotic, insecure, and somewhat at odds with his sexuality. Everyone knew Warhol was gay though he liked to pass himself off as above sex. In reality, he fetishized masculinity and yearned for romantic intimacy. The series’ best moments come in the form of Warhol’s tender writings about boyfriends Jon Gould and Jed Johnson.
The most interesting element of The Andy Warhol Diaries might be unintentional. The series, wittingly or not, seems to argue that Warhol’s real genius lay in self-promotion rather than in artistic innovation. The man had an undeniable talent for manipulating the media and seeing the artistic gifts in others, such as Waters or Jean-Michel Basquiat. After his initial splash making silk-screened art, he spent the remainder of his life reveling in celebrity and using his name as a branding tool.
Talking head interviews get a bit too Freudian as commentators postulate about how Warhol may or may not have wished to be straight, or if he consciously entered into unhealthy relationships.
Strange how in peeling back the layers of Andy Warhol, the series only makes the veneer more intriguing.
Streams on Netflix March 9.