One of my guiltiest pleasures of the last year has been Newlyweds, the reality series in which pop star Jessica Simpson floats on a cloud of stupidity so serene you have to wonder if our dear president dropped a few sperm-bombs in her birthplace of Waco. At least Jessica’s not in charge of anything crucial, like, say, oil or peace; she spends most of her time baring her luscious belly at photo shoots, lazing around her generic mansion with husband Nick, and spouting fantastic malapropisms. Just like Vince in Entourage, Jessica has recruited a pal from back home to be her personal assistant and live in her house—a corn-fed girl named CaCee Cobb, who surely missed an opportunity by ending her name with a double ee instead of an i with a heart on top.
That’s where the similarities to Entourage end, though. Unlike so many stars’ mega-posses (Gwyneth Paltrow supposedly keeps one chef to cook sweet food and another for savory), Jessica’s retinue consists mostly of family members. Which makes Newlyweds a strange mixture of Hollywood decadence and sappy homespun values. The cameras love it when Nick does half-assed home repair and Jessica stumbles around the kitchen like a blind kitten, her childhood as a Britney wannabe having left her fundamentally unequipped to deal with adulthood. Jessica’s mom recently told Vanity Fair that Jessica has a high IQ and just acts dumb for the cameras—the same way, Jessica admits, she once acted dumb to get boys. I can almost believe she deliberately dreams up dumb gags, since her ditziness has already taken on the gluey consistency of shtick. Yet there’s something pleasurable about watching the couple playact all those whitebread, old-fashioned TV marriage clichés (the beleagured husband forever seeking a moment’s peace to watch the game, affectionately suffering the inanities of his silly blonde wife), knowing that when the cameras are off they actually sit around discussing Heidegger and Foucault.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 13, 2004