When Nicole Richie's AOL webseries #CandidlyNicole came out, I was all for it (see here and here for a refresher). At the time, I wrote that all the things that she's done in her career - bratty socialite, BFF of Ebola Hilton, fashion designer - are things we (and by "we" I mean those of us who like our celebrities with a bit more cache) frown upon. But Nicole is never lumped in the conversation with the "famous for being famous types"; she's been able to transcend her own genre, which is a rare for someone who was introduced to us the way she was. Another thing that's rare about Nicole? Nothing feels desperate about her. She's not clawing and begging her way to magazine covers or trying to constantly remain in the spotlight with multiple projects, shows, endorsements, media appearances. She's like the Gwyneth of reality show stars.
And she is going back to her roots: VH1 has picked up #CandidlyNicole for eight episodes this summer, turning the web series into a proper reality show.
I have mixed feelings about it, because on one hand I really like Nicole and think she is funny, smart and controlled about her image, but on the other hand, she started in reality TV and going back to it feels like she’s regressing with her brand.
And it makes me wonder why. She was a reality show pioneer (sorry, it's true) and I don't see what is left for her in that structured, formulaic format that that type of TV provides (as opposed to the web series, which seemed more improvised and free-flowing). I don't know if the AOL series was a play for a full reality show - Sarah Jessica Parker and Gwyneth did the AOL series as well, and they certainly aren't looking for VH1 to pick up their web series (well, maybe Tracy Anderson is). So what is Nicole playing at here? Why go from a charming, funny, brand-building web series to the tired reality show format?
Best case scenario, she's using it as a platform to support some other part of her business (maybe a new clothing line?). Maybe she wants to do more TV and this is how she can prove she draws an audience. But I can't lie – I feel like something’s up…and I’m worried I’m not going to like it.
#CandidlyNicole episodes link here.
Attached - Nicole Richie out in Los Angeles with Joel Madden last month.