Every time I see a new story about Quibi, I’m reminded that 1. It exists, kind of and 2. It isn’t quite anything yet.
It hasn’t launched, but the money behind it has been busy acquiring talent and picking up shows with Chrissy Teigen, Zac Efron, Justin Timberlake, and Steven Spielberg. Quibi has a lot of cash and is banking that its mobile-first platform will entice viewers who have a lot of streaming options.
Nicole Richie is working with Quibi and before we get to the show’s concept, let’s dig into a bit of her history. Nicole has been applying herself to TV work for a long time, and she hasn’t shied away from digital. She was working with AOL way back in 2015, practically a lifetime ago in the online world, on Candidly Nicole. Her most traditional sitcom has been Great News, which lasted two seasons. She had a strong supporting role and Nicole is very funny - she has great timing and presence. That show should have gotten another two seasons on a steaming platform and been given a little time to settle into its tone.
Her acting career has had fits and starts: there have been cameos on splashy projects like Camp (because she is well-connected and well-liked) and pilots that haven’t gone anywhere (Fox’s Richard Lovely being the latest). This isn’t a knock on Nicole or a reflection of her talent. Getting a pilot picked up is really f-cking hard and so much about timing. Even really successful actresses (like Busy Philipps) and creators (like Mindy Kaling) have shows that don’t get picked up, a painful process they both detail in their books. Sometimes the stars just don’t align even though the show seems brilliant on paper.
Years ago, Nicole pulled way back on the social side of celebrity (she doesn’t attend a lot of events and if she does, it’s usually to support a friend) and now focuses on acting, even though it’s full of rejection and disappointment. She could be making relatively easy money with sponcon, but hasn’t gone that route. There would be a lot of avenues for her to make money as both a reliably stylish person and a mother – two big revenue streams on Instagram. It seems as though she has purposely steered away from being an influencer.
This new Quibi announcement doesn’t come with a lot of details, like how many episodes (or minutes?) they are committing to. The Instagram account for Nikki Fre$h went up in August, so this show has been on the works for a few months. Here is a description. Per Deadline: The series will show Nikki Fre$h bringing a new voice to wellness with a fresh style of music — “Parent Trap” — dropping socially conscious and educational rhymes on the world. She’ll interact with real-life wellness experts, while comedically exaggerating solutions to better health and a healthier planet.
I have no idea what this means. Nicole Richie has a rapper alter-ego, that part I got. Is it educational or satirical? Will it be sincere or will it be diving into the sometimes-predatory nature of the wellness industry? I’m not sure. But I did dig up some videos of Nikki Fre$h that she has done over the years.
This is on VH1 from Candidly Nicole.
And this is from her lifestyle collaboration with Yahoo.
The Madden brothers are doing the music, which makes sense. (Will Cameron Diaz cameo? She’s a wellness author.) But in terms of concept, it’s a little unclear. A satirical show about a wellness rapper would be amazing; I’m imagining Ali G. asking questions about green tea colonics. But to go in that direction, Nicole would be taking on ideas (and maybe even people) that are very popular in her social circle. I hope if it is satirical, it is skewering the wellness industry complex and not female rappers. Hip hop culture is important and female rappers are artistically valuable and a massive and underappreciated influence on music and fashion. “Wellness” is rife with snake oil salespeople, alarmingly false information, and a mandate to make women “feel good” by first making them feel inferior.
Is Nikki Fre$h going to take the piss out of goop? Or is she going to be “rapping” about the benefits of CBD with Chelsea Handler? The second scenario seems safer and more likely. But this is Quibi, and this could premiere on Mars in 2024. No one knows anything.