Fans of the legendary artist Andy Warhol quickly devoured The Andy Warhol Diaries when the book was first published in 1989. The 840-page paperback features the dictated memoirs of the American artist Andy Warhol that were posthumously published. The book took fans behind the scenes of Warhol’s life, with the last entry taking place just days ahead of his death in 1987. The diaries allow fans to see the world through Warhol’s eyes, from the famous people he spent time with to his life outside of the spotlight. There’s a reason he remains a consistent seller — the publication is a real treat for fans.
Unfortunately, Netflix’s take on The Andy Warhol Diaries is a bit of a mess. It seems unsure of what it wants to tell and how exactly it wants to tell it. While it is based on the book of the same name, The Andy Warhol Diaries often feels like a story about everyone around him rather than Warhol himself. It seems to forget about Warhol and his legendary artwork, instead choosing to focus on his confidence issues and his unwillingness to comment on his sexuality publicly. With so much to Warhol and the legacy he left behind, it seems an odd thing to focus essentially the entire series on. And sadly, that’s not the strangest decision this documentary makes over the course of six episodes.
The series uses a computer-generated take on Warhol’s voice to narrate the series. It’s rather off-putting, although it’s safe to presume it’s something Warhol would’ve been entirely fine with. (After all, he had dreams of being a robot.) As it’s an AI voice, it lacks any sense of emotion, coming off as monotone and dull. While I understand this is something the artist would have been behind, judging by what is said in the documentary series, it’s still an odd choice to make in a series that is so reliant on bringing in others to comment on Warhol. Had the series used footage of Warhol while he was alive and then added in the interviews, it would have flowed a lot better. And perhaps, it would have been a lot easier to endure.
The Andy Warhol Diaries is produced by Ryan Murphy, and it clearly has a Murphy feel to it. When Murphy is at the top of his game, he can deliver some quality television. Sadly, The Andy Warhol Diaries is not among his strongest work. It’s frustrating, really. There are so many reasons as to why this series should’ve been more enjoyable than it was. It seems half-baked. The ideas are good, they’re just poorly executed.
There is one minor bright spot in the series and that is the fourth episode, where we get to meet some of the other artists Warhol came into contact within New York in the 1980s. This part of the series allows fans to see Warhol appreciating artwork from those who would’ve been ignored otherwise because they didn’t belong to the typical white artist clique. While he might not have understood the artwork, he allows a light to shine on these young artists and their work. It’s a pretty important moment. If only the series was this strong and interesting for its entire run.
Overall, The Andy Warhol Diaries is frustrating. It wastes its potential by focusing on the least interesting bits of this massive art icon. Warhol did some amazing things in his lifetime, it just seems odd to focus on his love life in a limited series on his life.