Plot Points: Kristen Wiig Spends $15 Million On An Unhinged Talk Show In ‘Welcome To Me’

Evan Lambert

kristen wiig

The “lottery curse” usually only applies to lottery winners who suffer unfortunate mishaps following their wins. But what about people who immediately lose all their winnings because they spent it on something impractical and insane? Are they cursed, too? Or are they just boneheads?

In the case of Kristen Wiig’s character Alice Klieg in the 2014 movie Welcome to Me, she might just be both. 

What is Welcome to Me about?

Though it barely made a dent at the box office, Welcome to Me was critically lauded upon its 2014 debut for its comedic storytelling and for Wiig’s central performance. As the mentally ill main character, Wiig was continuing a string of daring post-Bridesmaids roles that proved she had a knack for drama. That’s not to say that Welcome to Me isn’t hilarious, too. As Klieg, Wiig deploys her sense of comedic timing to great effect, turning the character into a glass-eyed, anxious character who speaks in monotone and barely simulates normal human behavior. Ordering shrimp is a major decision for the anxious mess; she can’t even get through her meetings with friends without having prepared speeches beforehand.

Thus, when she wins $86 million in the fictitious California Stack Sweepstakes, she unsurprisingly uses the money quite impulsively. After hijacking a vitamin supplement infomercial and launching into a shocking speech about self-pleasure during the taping, Klieg naturally attracts the show’s producers. Keenly aware that Klieg just won $86 million (well, less after taxes), the studio offers her a meeting. Without wasting any time, Klieg then tells the studio that she wants 100 episodes of a talk show in which she does nothing but talk about herself. Then she writes them a $15 million check, announces that she wants to come onto set riding a swan boat, and immediately leaves.

Self-centered? Yes. Stubborn? Sure. But those traits don’t necessarily have to do with her mental illness; and that’s part of the point of Welcome to Me.

How does Kristen Wiig’s character spend her lottery winnings?

Not wisely!

After feeling dissatisfied with the aesthetics of her show, Wiig’s newly minted millionaire spends even more of her winnings to jack up the show’s production values. She could have invested that money, created a non-profit, or at least put some of it into savings, but hey, lottery winners can do whatever they want. Soon, the show’s set grows to include both a rotating stage and a nearly life-sized replica of Klieg’s childhood home.

Klieg then stops taking her borderline personality disorder (BPD) meds and delivers a show that is more train wreck than Oprah Winfrey. For instance, in her first episode, she includes a five-minute segment in which all she does is eat “meatloaf cake” covered in sweet potato icing. She does this silently. That’s not an exaggeration. She spends five minutes of her talk show quietly and methodically chewing meatloaf cake, leaving producers, viewers and her studio audience shocked, slack-jawed, and oddly transfixed. And then, after 5 minutes of silent chewing, she finally snaps back to life, rubs her belly, and says “mmmm so good.” This elicits hesitant applause.

And yet, Klieg manages to outdo herself. As time goes by, Klieg uses her 200 hours of screen-time to call carbohydrates “kybo-hydrants,” stage sketches “based on her life” that insult her friends and family, break numerous health code violations, and neuter dogs live on air. And by that point, she hasn’t even used all her winnings.

How does Welcome to Me end?

Though Welcome to Me is nominally about a woman who hilariously goes off her meds, it ultimately becomes a story about the realities of her mental illness and trauma. Though she doesn’t realize it at first, her talk show actually becomes her own version of therapy, allowing her to process the pain of her life through meta sketches starring her “friends.” Once she realizes this, and discovers that she’s alienated her loved ones through her show, she uses her show’s final episode to make amends with all of them. Then she uses the last $7 million of her winnings to repair her relationship with her best friend.

She ends the movie right back where she started, though happier, healthier, and wiser. Now she just needs to find a job.