'Hopelessly in Love: Anna Nicole Smith and Larry Birkhead' Review: A love torn apart by fame and controversy

The untold story of Larry Birkhead and Anna Nicole Smith's relationship is uncovered in great detail here.


                            'Hopelessly in Love: Anna Nicole Smith and Larry Birkhead' Review: A love torn apart by fame and controversy
Anna Nicole Smith and Larry Birkhead (Lifetime)

Lifetime's 'Hopelessly in Love' series has been diving into the complicated love lives of America's most controversial, heartbreaking love stories. With exclusive interviews and recycled footage, the show peels back the curtain for as close a look into these doomed romances as they can. The story of Anna Nicole Smith and Larry Birkhead is a strange one, but he gets to fully tell his side of the story after all these years.

Anna's life was rife with controversy for nearly all of her career, but none of it so much as the year leading to her death. When she announced her pregnancy in 2006 with an online video, there was much confusion as to who the father of the child was. Her longtime friend and lawyer Howard K Stern and entertainment photographer Larry both claimed to be the father. It wasn't until after her passing and the tragic, unexpected passing of her son Daniel that Larry was able to gain a court-ordered paternity test that proved he was the father of their daughter, Dannielynn. 

Larry had been in a relationship with Anna for a few years and had moved into her home pretty early in their relationship, but their relationship had largely been kept a secret to maintain Anna's status as a single, attainable sex symbol. Another major challenge to their relationship was, of course, Stern, who bizarrely also lived in Anna's house as her lawyer, best friend, and, according to him, longtime lovers. But that's not the love story that the special focuses on, instead telling the story of a small-time photographer who got involved with one of the biggest names in American celebrity culture. 

The special paints Larry as a well-meaning, self-effacing, small-town boy who wanted nothing but to live a happy life taking care of Anna. He appears supportive, caring, and optimistic about their relationship right up until the end. The relationship was a tumultuous one, and Anna's decision to move to the Bahamas to get away from him and pursue a relationship with Stern is a little bizarre. There's a lot of confusion about that relationship, and Stern is presented as a sinister, controlling manipulator, obsessed with Anna, who managed to break up what ought to have been a happy family. 

The story of Anna and Larry is one of a love that almost was, and of the still-murky controversy that kept them apart. Anna deserved a simpler, happier life than the one she got, and she's very much a victim of a headline-chasing media. Larry is open to the idea of finding love again, but it hasn't happened yet. Hee still believes that Anna was perhaps his one true love, and that he doesn't get another. 

There's scandal a-plenty for those tuning in for that, but for those seeking a true love story, there are a lot of stories about the beginning of the duo's relationship that are genuinely touching, and you find yourself rooting for the pair despite knowing how it ends. The special does end on a happy note, however. After the paternity suit, Larry was given sole custody of Anna's daughter Dannielynn.

Dannielynn has grown up and the special ends with some moments of a deeply loving father-daughter relationship. It ends on the closest thing to a happy ending that the tragic circumstances of Anna's death could allow.

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