Reality television as we know it today is highly produced, highly dramatized, and image-conscious. We see only what the the show want us to see, to the point that so-called “human moments” are curated and vetted for maximum impact.
Obviously, the poster children for this phenomenon are the Kardashians, but the same principle can be applied to anything from The Bachelor to the various iterations of The Real Housewives.
The "real" TV moments we crave are largely fake — but it wasn't always like that.
Thirteen years ago, Nick Lachey and Jessica Simpson made their reality-TV debut as America's favorite newlyweds. We watched them tie the knot, move in together, and the face trials and tribulations of married life head-on.
They weren't the first big reality-TV hit, but their show largely paved the way for the genre as we know it.
It's easy to recall the broad lines of the show: Nick and Jessica waited until their wedding night to have sex, moved in together, and then spent a lot of time bickering about Jessica's inability to pick up after herself. Nick wore a lot of cargo shorts and a diamond stud in one ear. Ultimately, their union was short-lived (a mere three years). And then, well, there's Chicken of the Sea.
But after taking a deeper look, one realizes that these two were more than the sum of "I Do (Cherish You)" and "Sweetest Sin."
Lesson #1: They were very young. (Jessica turns 23 a couple of episodes into the first season.) Can you imagine having cameras shoved in your face six months after moving in with your partner? It probably did nothing to help their longevity.
Lesson #2: Despite all the comments about her intellect (or lack of), Jessica was actually the successful one. At the time of their divorce in 2006, she was reportedly worth $35 million, as opposed to Nick, whose salary was pegged at $5 million annually. (Jessica later called the marriage her "biggest money mistake.")
Lesson #3: Deep down, we’re all a little bit lowbrow. That’s why we loved them. They were B-List even when they were A-List.
In a world where a 19-year-old gets herself $250,000 gifts (*cough* Kylie) and jets off for a birthday bash in Turks and Caicos, these Juicy Couture-clad newlyweds seem quaint. They're a reminder of a pre-social-media world, in which celebrities weren't as guarded or polished — and call me crazy, but I miss it.
Click through to revisit all the times Nick and Jessica were too real for reality TV.