Jessica Simpson's TV Show Means She's Finally Famous for Being Famous for Being Famous
Early PR for the show is playing up comparisons to Lucille Ball--dotty, fame-hungry, ultimately well-meaning--which is smart. I Love Lucy occupies the same space in sitcoms that Shakespeare does in literature--references and homages to it are so thick on the ground that even someone who's never seen the chocolates-on-a-conveyer-belt scene or the Vitameatavegamin commercial unwittingly knows a lot about it.
It's flattering, too, to the PR guys' boss; Lucille Ball was an astounding comedic talent, a beautiful woman, and a frightening businesswoman. I Love Lucy is funny--still funny--because that shrewd, calculating talent was dropped into something that's recognizable as middle-class domestic life.
Whatever ridiculous thing she does, Lucy is constantly bumping into reality: A household allowance has to be balanced, Ricky's about to return from a business trip, a neighbor's about to interrupt her in mid-snoop. She gets herself into situations we wouldn't even think to get ourselves into, because she's almost Lucille Ball, and then she fails about as spectacularly as we would. That's what drives the show: She's an any-housewife with Lucille Ball's hustle and ambition and about 70 percent of her brain.
Jessica Simpson will be playing herself in her upcoming Lucy-influenced sitcom, which has--confusingly enough--been labeled a scripted reality show in some early coverage. Actors will be playing not her character's husband Eric and father Joe, but her husband Eric and her father Joe.
Viewers will be treated to dramatizations of "'everyday' circumstances" (their air-quotes) ranging from "running a fashion empire to wrangling her public image as a new mom." Jessica Simpson's public image will be playing Jessica Simpson's public image wrangling Jessica Simpson's public image.
If you were wondering, then, why Jessica Simpson stopped making music--why she isn't in a position to make anything that is not herself, anymore--that's where I'd start. She's succeeded so completely that there's nothing but there there.