Jessica Simpson’s New Show: A Study in Contradictions
The Price of Beauty shows a smarter side of Jessica Simpson while dumbing down an important issue.
It’s tough to be objective about Jessica Simpson. A woman more famous for being famous than anything else, she has sought the spotlight for over a decade and — let’s be honest — probably found it more often than she deserved. Yet no one (not even a Kardashian sister!) should have to tolerate the kind of scrutiny that Jessica has faced in that time. From Chicken of the Sea jokes to high-waisted mom jeans, Jessica’s status as a favorite target for a way-too-cruel celebrity press machine has caused us, in spite of ourselves, to almost sympathize with her. So, we weren’t immediately put off by the notion of Jessica embarking on an international tour to learn what women in other cultures do to feel beautiful. In fact, we thought optimistically, she’s kind of the perfect person to take on this subject.
It was armed with this overwrought opinion that we sat down last night to watch Jessica’s new VH1 series, The Price of Beauty. The first of eight planned episodes begins with Jessica explaining her motivation for the show, touching on the pressure she’s been under to stay “beautiful,” the pressure women put on themselves to participate in the latest diet, buy the newest product. She’s saying everything she should, and delivering it with the appropriate intelligence and empathy. We’re heartened.
Along with her for this ride are her best friends Cacee Cobb and Ken Paves. They seem nice enough. Ken is hardly the annoying chatterbox he’s made out to be, and Cacee doesn’t prove herself to be as funny as Jessica sells her, but they’re there, and it’s clear they genuinely like each other. Friendship! We’re down.
And this is where our hopes are dashed. Because our intrepid threesome’s quest to understand one of society’s greatest dilemmas is now crammed into say, 18 minutes of wacky massage, tours with the host of Thailand’s Next Top Model (sidebar: can we have a Top Model hosts of the world “smize-off”? Can someone make that happen?), a rehashing of Survivor’s oldest bug-eating stunts, and countless remarks on Jess’s impractical-but-hot shoe choices, complete with “buy me!” money shots.
Given that, in one break, we’re treated to a Jess-on-a-boat glamour shot ad for her “lifestyle collection,” we’re going to go out on a limb and say every featured pair is now for sale at your nearest department store.