We discuss Jessica's reality-show marriage and its painfully ordinary end. Digressions include "Showgirls," "The Notebook" and Adam Levine. "Hamlet" makes an appearance; Willie Nelson and Lynda Carter give sage advice. Mike apologizes for things out of his control.
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Sarah: And Rose did marry some guy and have kids, but like, they don't really dwell on it that much. And it's like, they're panning over her beautiful life that she had. And it's like, here he is on a horse, no husband in sight.
Welcome to You're Wrong About, the podcast where we read celebrity memoirs to you as you drift lazy in a hammock, or maybe furiously try to keep up with your hectic life. Hopefully the former, maybe the latter. I'm sorry. That's not good. I don't like that.
Mike: That one was fine. That's no worse than any of mine.
Sarah: Welcome to You’re Wrong About, the podcast where we take down low rise jeans forever, once and for all.
Mike: That sounds like we're pulling them off of her like they’re stripper pants.
Sarah: Oh, no. Welcome to You're Wrong About, the show where we expose low-rise jeans for the hopes they always were.
Mike: You're Wrong About, shortening torsos since 2018.
Sarah: I just think that we should all wear exactly as much fabric as we feel like, in all the places that we want to put it.
Mike: Yes, exactly.
Sarah: I didn't mean for that to be topical when I started the sentence, but it is now, so here we go.
Mike: Hot take somehow. I am Michael Hobbes, I'm a reporter for the Huffington Post.
Sarah: I am Sarah Marshall. I'm working on a book about the Satanic Panic.
Mike: And we are on Patreon at patreon.com/yourewrongabout, and we're on PayPal, and we sell t-shirts, and we finally got an actual podcast host for this podcast. We have been hosting it on my personal blog from the early 2000’s.
Sarah: For two years.
Mike: And so we finally gave in this week and got a real hosting service. So we're sorry. Some of our episodes went offline. Some of them went in the wrong order. So if you experienced this, we're sorry and we're trying to be professional.
Sarah: I'm proud of, I feel like we've moved to our big kid bed.
Mike: Yeah, we're doing it. And today we are talking again about Jessica Simpson.
Sarah: I'm so excited. I really have been waiting for too long for us to get to this.
Mike: We have previously mostly talked about the music in her life, but today we're going to talk about the men in her life. I've been looking for this for so long because we're finally going to talk about something that I don't think we've ever talked about on this show, a normal ass divorce. Nobody gets murdered. There's no abuse.
Sarah: And no one runs off with their therapists.
Mike: Nobody runs off with anybody's therapist. There's no like fabrication of repressed childhood memories. It's just like people that got into a relationship at a particular time in their life and they grew apart and like that's most divorces. It's like, no one is a terrible human being, but it's just the combination of these two people becomes more and more poisonous over time to the point where it can't be antidoted. There's no solution for it at a certain point. And then they stay married for like three more years and then they breakup. And this is very typical.
Sarah: I am very familiar with that relationship pattern.
Mike: Exactly. I know Jessica Simpson, I am Jessica Simpson.
Sarah: You, you get your arguments ready. You make sure that you know you're not happy and you never will be. And then you change nothing for two years.
Mike: Yes. So I think it's actually good to talk about because we talk about so much extreme human behavior on this show, and it's kind of nice to talk about like, Pretty everyday human behavior.
Sarah: I think I have a darker worldview, because I would say that like the murder and the abuse, like it's extreme, but it's also very endemic to human relationships. So like there's just so many common human behaviors and some of them are really abusive and some of them are like, people are like flailing around and doing things that are harmful to each other, but ultimately able to make safe choices for themselves and others. However normal that is, it's, I'm excited to be discussing it on something like the 87th episode we've done.
Mike: The gravitational pull that you feel is the galactic size of the air quotes that I am putting around the word normal. When I say a normal divorce, what I mean is anormal. Yes. Thank you for the intonation with the air quotes on it. So today we are going to start with a clip, as we often did. It is the infamous Chicken of the Sea, clip.
Sarah: Oh my gosh. I've never actually seen this.
Mike: There are aspects of this that we're not remarked upon at the time and I want to remark upon, but one of the memory hold elements of this is that there's like a football game playing in the background. So as a person who spends a lot of time trying to get ambient noise out of audio recordings, I just want to apologize for the weird noises in the background of this.
Sarah: You're apologizing for the production choices of a 20 year old reality show.
Sarah: Okay. You want to do three, two, one go.
Mike: Yes. Three, two, one go.
Recording: Is this chicken, what I have, or is this fish? I know it's tuna, but it says chicken by the sea. Is That stupid? What? Don’t make fun of me right now. I'm not in the mood.
You act like you’ve never had tuna before.
I've had tuna, like sandwiches and stuff like this.
Baby you and I have eaten tuna like this before.
Why is it called chicken by the sea or in the sea?
Chicken of the Sea is the brand. Because a lot of people eat tuna. It's like, a lot of people eat chicken. It's like a chicken of the sea.
Okay. I understand that. I was, I read it wrong.
Sarah: Okay. So what I'm saying is that he's being a dick to her, right? Oh my God. Okay. They have a beautiful plant behind them though. I have to say.
Mike: Walk, walk us through this. Walk us through this clip. What do you, what were you seeing and hearing?
Sarah: Okay, so they're sitting on the couch looking like they're having an amazing night in with like bright overhead lighting glaring down on them sitting four feet apart on a huge white couch. And Nick Lachey is watching a basketball game. And so she's like kind of curled up and she's eating a bowl of like, I assume, tuna salad or something like that. And she says, is this chicken, what I have, or is this fish? And Nick Lachey is silent for like 10 seconds.
Mike: And he like glares at her.
Sarah: Yeah. And then she clearly feels like he's being rude to her or like condescending to her, which in my opinion, he is. It's like the scene inside dinner time in so many unhappy relationships.
Mike: Yes. And also what's so interesting to me is like this clip of course went whatever the version of viral was in 2003. But like we spent all these years making fun of her and nobody was making fun of him. I say ditzy stuff all the time, and like, you can be nice about that stuff.
Sarah: I feel like I know so many couples who are both like my partner is like, has all these little quirks and idiosyncrasies. And I think they're so adorable. And we tell funny little stories about the time both of us were confused by very simple things. And it's like, if this were a different relationship, that moment could be a chance for like him to be loving and appreciative. And instead it's this.
Mike: Yeah, earlier this year, I mentioned that I didn't know that Sia was Australian.
Sarah: Oh, I didn't know that.
Mike: Yeah. See, and like, my boyfriend was really nice about it and he's like, Oh yeah, like that's a thing.
Sarah: I feel like there's a lot of things that you don't know that like, like you didn't, like, you didn't know who Anastasia was and I'm like, right. You were never a very sensitive little bookish, eight year old, Sarah, so like, I don't know expect you to know that.
Mike: You're previewing next week's episode, which is deeply embarrassing that I had to ask whether Anastasia was a real person.
Sarah: She's also a cartoon movie. So like, it is hard to say at that point, it's like, is Ariel based on a real person. I, I don't know.
Mike: Yeah. You, you were nice about it. You were like, that's an interesting question, Mike, which it isn't.
Sarah: So, yeah, so anyway, it's, it's fascinating to me that I remember there was a Saturday Night Live sketch about this. Like this was really a moment that saturated the culture. And I remember nothing about how Nick Lachey behaved in this clip and it's fascinating. Cause like he's the one who says the most stuff and has the most screen time and is doing the most and like, the discomfort of it kind of comes from him. And yet we remember it being about her, which is very interesting to me.
Mike: One of the things I love about this book is that Jessica Simpson very much owns her, what she calls dizziness. Like at one point, her dad says, you know, sales increased by 200% and she goes, do percents go that high? She's inviting us to laugh at that with her, right? Like she's bringing it up herself, but the tenor is completely different when other people bring that up about somebody else and are inviting you to laugh at that person. The worst one. And the ones that the record company gets really mad at her about it is it's right after her Irresistible video comes out. Her second album is about to get released. And every day she's at like a different shopping mall or Good Morning America, or like, she doesn't even know where she is or who she's talking to. And so she goes to a tennis tournament called the Arthur Ashe Tennis tournament. And so she has no idea who Arthur Ashe is.
Sarah: And Arthur Ash died when she was a child. Right.
Mike: Yeah. And he's, I mean, he's an African-American tennis star who came out as HIV positive in 1992. And she's at a tennis tournament with Andre Agassi and they ask her like, well, what does Arthur Ash mean to you? And she has to sort of filibuster. And then she turns to Andre Agassi and she's like, I just think it's so great that you hold a tennis tournament every year. So she's mixed up Arthur Ash and Andre Agassi.
Sarah: Which makes sense. They're both double AA names. I mean, how much prep time does she have for any of this? And does she have like, you know, Tony Hale whispering in her ear because she really needs that at this point.
Mike: My favorite one is that she eventually gets invited to the white house and she's chatting with this lady and she's like, Oh, what do you do? And the lady says, I'm the secretary of the interior. And Jessica looks around and she's like, this place looks amazing. You’ve done an incredible job.
Sarah: I love it. She's trying to be gracious also. Like, I don't know what the Secretary of the Interior actually does. And if I had to think of like something small talky you to say about their actual job. I could not, I would just be like, I like your blazer.
Mike: Yeah. So before we get into her relationship with Nicholas Shea, why don't you catch us up? Where, where is Jessica? Where are we?
Sarah: Oh gosh. Okay. So in the first episode about Jessica Simpson's memoirs, we talked about her early life, her childhood in Texas. Her auditioning for the Mickey mouse club and gradually becoming more and more of a professional child and into this growing career, as we discussed in episode two, walks Nick Lachey, who is in the boy band. Although I guess he's like 25. So like the man band, 98 Degrees and she's like, Hey, I'm saving myself for marriage. And he's like, cool, I get it. And so the last time we saw Jessica, she was starting to get a ton of media attention, partly because she did an interview where she was like, I'm saving my virginity for marriage. And so she and Nick are going on a bunch of interviews and things and talking about their sex life. So, yeah, that's uncomfortable and I bet it's going to get more uncomfortable.
Mike: Yes. And so we're going to pick up with Jessica and Nick around three years after they started dating, she is now 20, which would make him 27 or 28. She wants to get married. He wants to get married, but her dad is really against it. Her dad thinks that she should wait and she does not say it in the book directly, but her father and Nick have a tense relationship for the entire marriage. And a really big reason is that her father considers him a competitive sort of manager, because of course, Nick is giving her career advice and Nick is giving her music advice. And Nick is saying, Oh, you should do this show and not that show like the way that you do with other people in the industry.
Sarah: And Nick is like, I'm already a pop star. I know what I'm doing. And her dad's like, Hey, Hey, Hey.
Mike: Exactly. And that's one of the reasons she says that Nick is the only thing that her and her father fight about. So based on everything else, he does what he says, but it's only when Nick's advice contradicts him that she'll push back against her father. And so I think this is one of the reasons why her father sees him as such a threat.
Mike: I feel like Nick is almost like a transitional person between like her parents and freedom.
Mike: Yeah. So what's interesting is all of these things come to a head that she's really busy with her career. Her dad doesn't really like this dude that she's seeing, essentially their whole relationship is on the phone at this point, because they're both touring and recording music, so relentlessly. And so they break up, and what's interesting is they break up over exactly the issue that they will eventually get divorced over, which is exactly the dynamic that we saw in the chicken of the sea clip.
Sarah: That he’s mean?
Mike: It's basically, I mean, this is what she says in the book, “My childishness, which seems so cute and sweet when I was first with him, seemed to annoy him. We were both concerned about our careers and our anxieties just seem to feed off of each other.” So he likes the fact that she's sort of, I mean, in some ways, subordinate to him. Like her career is not as big as his, but he's also a bit frustrated that she's not sort of as independent as he is. Like, he's been doing everything for himself since he was young. He's had control over his own career, later on they fight about time zones because she can't figure out how time zones work. Like she's just not somebody who's very worldly.
Sarah: I can't figure out how time zones work.
Mike: And so basically, they drift apart during this time they're both doing career stuff, they just start kind of calling less and less. And then Jessica is basically like, well, I mean, we're kind of already on a break anyway, so let's just be on a break. She takes this break from him to sort of focus on her career. Things are weird in that Tommy Mottola, the warlock at the head of Columbia records who has been pushing her to lose weight and basically micromanaging her entire career, has been pushed out of the record company. So this is also at the same time that Napster appears, and file sharing appears. And so she talks about how they're already seeing the bottom start to fall out of the music industry at this time.
And so she's like flying coach to gigs. Like they'll just get her coach tickets to things. And then she has to do her own makeup in the bathroom at these places. The music industry is transforming extremely quickly, and she doesn't have like internal support within the record company to like prop her up anymore. So she sort of left Nick to focus on her career, but her career is kind of like a, it's a little on thin ice, basically. I also think that this line is very important for understanding everything that went wrong with her career. “I was trying everything to get on MTV, a channel that was forbidden to me as a kid”.
I do think so much of the reason why she sort of didn't go so far as a pop star, she's much more comfortable doing Christian music or adult contemporary or country Western or genres of music that really speak to her. Whereas all this pop stuff she hasn't watched MTV, she doesn't know who the pop stars even are.
Sarah: Yeah. There's this paradoxical thing where like, if you're minting pop stars in this management machine, and then you're like, you need to be rebellious and fun. And it's like, well, I'm working very hard to do everything you're telling me and I just, I don't have time for rebellion and fun. I'm very sorry.
Mike: Right. I can't finish this Arthur Ashe biography that you've assigned to me. I'm sorry. Yeah. And then there's also this thing of the continuing corruption of her parents. So listen to this passage. “I am not sure when my parents started to drink alcohol, but they took to it. The lines are so blurred in the music industry. There's a need to be in the mix, and so many meetings and events are at bars and restaurants. They wanted to fit in. We didn't go to church and I noticed my dad dropping F bombs on the phone as he advocated for me.”
Sarah: Wow. So she's like her, her parents are becoming these like Hollywood pod people.
Mike: And becoming like these capitalist battle rods that are just like putting her into the music industry and echoing what she's hearing from everybody else, of like lose weight, get in the newspaper, show up on more of these publicity, these random publicity stunts.
Sarah: Forget Jesus. What did that guy ever do for you?
Mike: Exactly. And she also talks about how their marriage is basically over at this point. It's just a business arrangement. They're fighting constantly. And so it is actually really interesting to me that this is still 2000 and her parents don't divorce until 2012. Yeah. There are rumors that her father is gay because he brought a man with him, like a young male model with him to her later wedding to the football player guy that we mentioned in episode one. He says that he's someone linked with my career, so I brought him to my daughter's wedding. We don't know. And Jessica says like, that's not my thing, story to tell.
Sarah: I stand with Jessica.
Mike: I think we should leave it there. But that's like one of the, that's like one of the theories of her parents' marriage. And her dad also, this is nuts. Her dad is also making much worse financial decisions. So remember how I mentioned last episode that like there's weird millionaires, like bank rolling her career and like investing in her?
Sarah: Buying stock and Jessica
Mike: Yes. So after like she's now made it right. So like the stock has boomed and so it's time to pay back these millionaires and her dad just refuses to pay them back. He's just like, Oh, they won't even notice, they’ve already got millions of dollars. Why should I pay them back?
Sarah: I’m amazed he didn’t get kidnapped.
Mike: I know! And Jessica, little 20 old, like non-savvy Jessica, is like, ah, there's a contract. You should probably pay people your existing contractual obligations.
Sarah: Like I'm no expert, but a promise is a promise, dad.
Mike: So she eventually like, convinces him, but it's just like a weird move.
Sarah: Yeah. Wow. So her parents are like going rogue. I mean, it's just, she reminds me a lot of Ofelia from Hamlet, you know, where like, you're just like this innocent girl. That's what everyone likes about you. And then everyone in the kingdom just goes nuts and you're like, well, I don't, I was not raised to cope with this situation.
Mike: That's your English degree again?
Sarah: That's my Women's Studies minor, also.
Mike: And so we get now, possibly the biggest cameo we've gotten so far. This is where she meets Beyonce. So this is what Jessica says, “Sony and Columbia decided to make a push for me in the youth market. So during graduation season, I did Disney grad nights in Orlando with Destiny's Child. Disney and Marvel would shut down the park certain nights and only allow high school seniors to attend. We would perform at the end and I loved it. It gave me more time to bond with Beyonce and Kelly Rowland.” This was pre-Michelle, “Beyonce and I had similar family dynamics. So I think we understood each other well. Her father had left his business in his case, Xerox, not Jesus, and her mother. I became the group stylist. Our younger sisters, Ashlee and Solange, were both our backup dancers, and they two became friends. We share failure stories to buck each other up. Hers was star search back when the group was known as girls' time, mine was the Mickey mouse club disaster.” So it's like, it's nice. It's like early Beyonce, early Jessica, just being like, maybe this is going to work out, maybe it's not. We're both working our asses off.
Sarah: Here we are in Disney World.
Mike: I love the opening sentence of this, too. That it's like, I guess we're doing a push for the youth market. So I'm just going to spend a bunch of time at Disney world.
Sarah: Right. It's also, who were they marketing her to before? It's like, if Taylor Swift started off being marketed as like adult contemporary and then they were like, wait, she's a teen.
Mike: So this is also the time when her and Nick end up getting back together because of 9/11. It's actually very typical. And like, I get it on an emotional level.
Sarah: I think there are a lot of people who are texting their exes right now. So I imagine this is similar.
Mike: So she's hearing rumors that Nicholas is seeing other women while they're on a break. And she has been dating this guy, Dan karate, who is her choreographer, who was the cliffhanger last episode. I tried to structure this as a reality show cliff hanger, where the cliffhanger is ultimately meaningless. She goes on like two dates with him and then it peters out.
Sarah: Good. I think you have a future in this, Mike.
Mike: So they're broken up. He has a car concert at Madison Square Garden, and he's supposed to call her afterwards. And then he doesn’t, and he calls her the next morning and she immediately picks up and she's like, why the hell didn't you call me last night? And he just says, turn on your TV. And she turns on her TV and it's 9/11 and they're watching the footage of this and like everyone else in America, they're like, scared and they don't know what to think and just like emotional, like chocolate fountain pouring out of them. And he says, I only want to be with you right now. And she says, come home to me. And so what's interesting is they come back together to each other and it's just understood that they're going to get married.
So they're in Honolulu, she's singing I think the National Anthem at a football game in Honolulu, and he takes her out on a boat. And does the like down on one knee proposal, the whole sort of very traditional thing. And so it's just like very quickly, they move into this like wedding planning mode. There was also very importantly, a conversation, a single conversation, where he proposes getting a prenup, because remember he is wildly more financially successful than her at this point. And so he's like, well, you know, my advisors, lawyers, whoever, say that we should probably sign a prenup, and she explodes. She's like, are we not going to stay married? Are you going to cheat on me? Like, what the hell is this?
She tells him to drop it and he drops it. So he just goes along with it and that's the last they speak of it until later. So they start planning for the wedding. This is really bad. She starts dieting so aggressively. They have to keep adjusting her dress because she keeps getting smaller. This is what she says, “I had upped my dosage of diet pills and was eating even less to be super thin for the wedding. Speedy and hungry, I was easy to set off. Nick and I had developed a reliable cycle. He would criticize for something small, and I would blow it up to make it about something larger in our relationship or the pressure I was under in my career. He would feel attacked and raise his voice. Then I would say, screw you and pout like a child, Nick would then resolve the issue by being the grownup. Rinse. Repeat.”
They're both just under a tremendous amount of stress. Both of her parents are like against this marriage or like actively trying to sabotage it. This is also super fucked up. This is what she says about her mom, “It was a new thing for my parents to fight over. Since my mom always took Nick's side, when he would criticize me for some new thing. What you have to understand about my mom is that she's a tough crowd. My dad is a people pleaser, but people have to work to impress her. To this day, I think a lot of what I do is to win her approval. Her backing up whatever cutting thing Nick said to me gave it more weight and gave him license to do more.”
So this just like gets worse. Her parents get in like a screaming fight at the wedding rehearsal dinner. In front of Nick Lachey’s parents. This is like one of the most fucked up things, as her and her dad are standing sort of like at the end of like, whatever, the carpet that you walked down to go get married.
Sarah: The aisle? I feel like this is like the thing where, like, we didn't know what sky caps were. We're going to get a bunch of listeners being like, I feel old, Mike and Sarah don't even know what weddings are.
Mike: As they're like standing at the door about to walk her down the aisle. And you know, the door is still closed, they're about to make their entrance. Her dad turns to her and is like, you don't have to do this. It's literally happening in 15 seconds and you're telling her like you can still bail, what the fuck dude?
Sarah: Read the room, dad!
Mike: So, you know, she talks about the wedding. The wedding is great. They're super, like, they're still very infatuated with each other and like wildly in love and she's beaming and all the photos. And she often looks back at the photos later, after the relationship starts to sour, of like we really were extremely happy together then, even though the cracks were starting to show. And so she also mentions very briefly, like the wedding night, all she says is that, you know, of course this has been built up and she's finally not going to be a virgin anymore. And they've been dating for three or four years. And what she says is, “What I didn't know then is that everyone's first time is awkward and that's part of it, and that's okay. But at the time it's tough to understand.” Because when the entire culture builds up virginity as this huge fucking thing, and then if you lose it, you're like a giant skank. It's like, yeah, you're actually putting way too much emphasis on that aspect of the relationship.
Sarah: It also just feels so confusing because it's like, sex before marriage-terrible, like as wrong as all the other wrong kinds of sex. And then it's like, suddenly you get married, and you're given permission and it's like, it's fine. It's great. It's, you're sharing God's love with each other and a man and a woman who are married, having sex as the most beautiful thing there is. Like, I think it's like, you just can't, you can't switch from something being totally forbidden and described to you as poisonous to suddenly it's safe for you. Like it's, I just imagine that feeling so scary.
Mike: The only way to sort of make people afraid of losing their virginity too early is to make sex this perfect expression of love and to put all this emotional intimacy into the act of sex. Because if you're sharing that with somebody before you get married, you're sharing this part of yourself with them, but then once you've built up sex to be this expression of love, then once you're actually able to have sex and maybe the sex isn't that good, then it's like, well, do I not love this person? Or do they not love me?
Sarah: Or you're like, can I ask for more from the pleasure this person is able to give to me or from the chemistry we have together, because we're sharing love with each other. And that's the point. And it doesn't matter if I'm not getting some stuff I would really like.
Mike: And it's like, not something we can talk about openly as just sexual logistic.
Sarah: Right, right. You can't talk about it in terms of like, friction and angles.
Mike: Or like, like maybe take your socks off, or maybe don’t. It's harder to have those conversations.
Sarah: Even as someone who grew up really secular and who like, you know, wasn't really taught by the authority figures in my life to see my virginity that way, I still did. It's still in the cultural groundwater. Like I still personally had a hard time getting past the idea that I was like losing a part of myself. And I blame the culture for that. It's a perspective that makes no sense to me today. And yet it's so hard to get away from even in secular culture in the United States.
Mike: So one of the things that's interesting is their show, their reality show really is Newlyweds. Apparently, her dad starts pitching this show to MTV right after the wedding. Her dad thinks that this is going to boost her music career because there's really been no other reality show like this. Like this is before the Kardashians. The only thing that's been on in this genre is the Osborne's. And so her dad comes up with the idea that like, we can humanize Jessica. Nick Lachey wants to do it because he thinks it's going to give him a solo career because he's breaking away from 98 Degrees at this time. So according to Jessica, her dad tells her that it's more like a documentary.
Sarah: Presumably if you're used to working with camera crews, you have some sense of what they're up to and everything. And like, you can maybe see the goals of the production, but I also feel like there's this weird thing where like, you let a camera crew follow you around for however long they're gathering hundreds of hours of footage. You don't really know how they're going to edit it together, what they're going to use or what the tone is going to be like. I think it's always just this huge act of trust. And I feel like a lot of people are probably told they're going to get something that sounds better than what they end up with.
Mike: And, and, you know, so much of that show is about like the editing and like what background music they use, because of course the producers are staging like things for them to do. So like the producers will be like, well, we're going camping in Yosemite. And then like, Nick has to kind of pretend that it's his idea. He's like, “Hey sweetie, I think we should go camping in Yosemite.” And so also what's interesting is her dad is listed as a producer on the show and one of Nick Lechay’s managers is also listed as a producer. So I'm pretty sure they had approval over final cut.
So all of the stuff in the show, of sort of casting Jessica as like the ditzy one, they knew about like they knew what kind of background music they were going to put behind her and they knew what they were going to edit out of the show and leave in. And so what's interesting is she doesn't seem to really mind about her own image, but she wants their marriage to look healthy, but like she burps and farts on camera and like, doesn't care. She's like, if they want to know the real me, like this is the real me.
Sarah: How are you going to not burp or fart in front of a camera crew that's following you around for six or seven months? Like, it's the, but like I burp dozens of times while we record these episodes, and you have to edit it all out.
Mike: So what's interesting is the camera crews start documenting what becomes the central conflict of their marriage, which is that he had this idea of marriage that he was going to have this traditional wife. She's going to be at home. She's going to be cooking. She's going to be taking care of him. Unspoken is, her career is not going to be going as well as his right. So like I'm going to be having a solo career. She is going to be supporting me. And what ends up happening is this pattern of like her being away for like weeks at a time, because she's touring, she's working on a new album, she's going on all these events. And he's just like at home and kind of pouting, you're not cooking for me. You're not cleaning. You're not taking care of the house. And I'm here alone.
Sarah: It's such a fascinating thing for a rich person to be upset about because it's like, the reason that wives do that is because it makes sense economically to have like a class of workers who just like each has a woman to take care of their needs and raise their children. And then they can go to the factory and make a widget. And so if you're rich, if you want someone to cook for you and clean for you, then there are people that you can pay a living wage for that. And then your wife can be someone that you love and maybe you're upset that you're spending all this time apart. That's an issue separate from this whole thing of like a wife is someone whose job it is to provide unpaid labor for you.
Mike: And he specifically doesn't want them to have a housecleaner.
Sarah: That's so weird. People have such hang-ups about this.
Mike: It's fascinating.
Sarah: And also watching this show, their house is huge. Like they live in one of those like big beige, just those huge, like kind of condom colored, like 6,000 square foot place. Like they probably have rooms they don't really know what to do with yet.
Mike: Yes. Here's what she says. “I was very aware that I was a mid-level celebrity, still paying off her wedding and not in a position to say no to any gigs. I would come home, go grocery shopping to try to be the normal wife Nick wanted, and then leave again. When I returned two weeks later, the crew would get us in the kitchen with Nick complaining about the bread that got moldy and the salad that went bad because I bought them two weeks before”
Sarah: As if everyone doesn't do that.
Mike: And it's like, Nick, go to the fucking store, man. Or like hire someone to go to the store. It's chill.
Sarah: Or just like throw stuff out as it goes bad because that happens in every refrigerator.
Mike: And then what’s also an interesting dynamic here too. And this is what I mean by sort of the quote unquote normal divorce is that neither one of them sort of know how to like, talk about what the real issues are, that she's feeling like she's being asked to do all this extra work and he's feeling like this isn't the marriage that he signed up for. Like, you can imagine two people coming together on this and being like, we'll have a house cleaner, but like you and me together, we'll cook meals in, two nights a week or something like, you can imagine something in between if they could talk about these things. But one of the things that ends up becoming really poisonous is that all the time that she's traveling around, he's got time to just like, think about his career. Everything that she's doing becomes a reminder that he's not doing it.
Sarah: Yeah. And so what's going on with him? Like, is he not like, what does he want and what is he not getting?
Mike: I mean, basically, once the show comes out, the show is a massive hit. The show actually boosts her music career, but it does nothing for his.
Sarah: Why is that? Maybe his music isn't as good as hers or like, I mean, she's also just like a very attractive female and she's also working on a movie career at this time. Like there's other places that she's showing up in culture.
Sarah: I love that you guys said very attractive female. You sound like a Congressman who just got caught with his hand in the cookie jar. But yeah, I mean, and also it's interesting to see what happens to a relationship where like someone's unspoken assumption that they were going to be the Vladimir Nabokov and their partner would be the Vera, is upended. And they're like, wait, am I not the protagonist of this marriage? And I not the person whose work is being supported?
Mike: Right. He easily could have just become like a dope supportive husband. My wife is crushing it and it makes sense for me to do more like project management-y stuff. But like, that's not what he thinks he signed up for. And he's not capable of talking about it. And she's not capable of talking about how she's noticing that that's what's going on. So there's just these like fights that blow up into these larger fights because neither one of them are capable of talking about what really the conflict is, right?
Sarah: Because you have this kind of ever simmering conflict and you address the little issues that bubble up out of that, but you never get at what's really going on. So it just gets worse.
Mike: So she starts getting gigs that used to be an invitation for both of them to like sing their duets. But after her album comes out and does well, and his album comes out and doesn't, he starts getting left off of the invitations. So there's like a Superbowl halftime thing at one point that they're both supposed to open. And then MTV eventually is like, Oh actually, why don't we just have Jessica do that? And like, let's put a pin in it on Nick. And the infamous Rolling Stone cover where she's like holding a vacuum cleaner in her underwear. And it's like the housewife of the year or something like that. That was supposed to be both of them. But at the last minute Rolling Stone was like, ah, I don't think we need Nick for this one. She becomes a breakout star of this show that they're doing together.
Sarah: It's interesting too, because it's like, it feels like the show is doing all this stuff to kind of undermine her. And yet she still is the one who people find charismatic.
Mike: It is actually really interesting to me, also the way that she really like owns the show and is happy with the show now, because I thought she would describe it as like the show was embarrassing. It picked the worst parts of me. They deliberately edited it to make me look dumb and she's like, yeah, I am ditzy. And like, that's right.
Sarah: And I guess like, you have to accept that and just be like, I accept what I am like. And I like myself and people can relate to that however they need to. And I'm not in control of it because I've been famous for 22 years.
Mike: What's really interesting is they both separately talk about how, after they're on the show for a while and they see the way that the show is received, they both start acting out the roles that the show casts them in.
Mike: It's like an, I love Lucy kind of dynamic where she's just like constant ditz, constantly fucking up things. And then he talks about, he is cast as sort of like the Midwestern good guy. Like I'm just a simple man who just like wants dinner on the table when I get home.
Sarah: And who only wears tank tops from what I've seen.
Mike: Like, he talks about how, like, that's really not the person. He is like, he has a darker side. He's struggled with depression. He has anxiety. Like he is not the sort of awe shucks, good guy, husband. But as the show expects him to be that, and as he begins to play it more and more on camera, because they know the kind of footage the producers will use and won't, and they want to get it over with, and like give them as much good footage that they can use as possible so they don't have to be there every day, he starts doing it when they're not filming and she starts playing up her, like, I'm just a ditzy housewife and I don't know how to cook or clean. And what do these pots and pans do? Like she starts emphasizing that aspect of her personality.
Sarah: That is weird.
Mike: I mean, I think it's an interesting example of the way that other people's expectations shape who we are in ways that like we're not always aware of.
Sarah: Yeah. And I think we do that in our relationships and in our communities. And it's interesting to think how the experience of fame used to be something that so few people really went through, that it was hard to relate it to daily life. And now the problems of fame I think, are getting more and more democratized and just sort of being known is becoming one of the more viable industries.
Mike: Yeah more people are known. Like there's a larger supply of low-level celebrities now.
Sarah: There's a larger supply of knownness. And it's also like, I don't know. I think that economically it's like there are many seemingly more reasonable industries that it's much harder to get into with any kind of a future than like, become an Instagram influencer and sell vitamin gummies somehow, you know. Like that's not that easy to do either but everything is so scarce. And so it feels like we have more cultural literacy around kind of the emotional problems that any degree of fame produces. And it feels like one of the parallels we can see is like, yeah, if the public expects you to occupy a certain facet of your personality, maybe to exclusion of all others, like you will. And you maybe won’t even notice that that's why you're doing it until later.
Mike: Right. And what's interesting about the last two scenes of the show as they get more into their roles is that their marriage is just completely falling apart behind the scenes. I mean, this is wild that she's doing all this stuff to keep her body like as quote unquote, perfect as it can be, but he's lost all interest in sex. They barely look at each other anymore. They don't cuddle. She doesn't feel attractive at all.
Sarah: They have that quality in this show. I mean, I remember it's hard to put my finger on it, but I remember like when it came out, what I saw that was kind of one of the first things that made me feel like, I don't think marriage sounds that great, actually. And I guess they don't seem to have that much to say to each other, like it does feel like that thing where like, you're on like a romantic vacation that you, like, you arranged like a long time ago and you're like, well, we're probably going to break up, but let's, let's do the vacation and then you're there and you're like, we shouldn't have done this.
Mike: Yeah. And also the fights are getting nastier. So sometimes where they're sort of getting into it, she'll throw that back in his face and be like, well, Nick, if you actually had something to do, maybe you wouldn't be at home waiting for me all the time. And then he will retaliate by saying things like, Oh, where are you on tour with your friends, Jessica, your friends who are all actually your paid employees, because he knows that's something she's really insecure about, that all of her friends are also her employees and she's always kind of paranoid that like, what if they don't really like me? And so to me, this is a milestone of a lot of relationships turning really sour. When people start saying mean things to each other, not because they believe them, but because they know it's the most hurtful thing they can possibly say. There's also an interesting thing where she starts getting more paranoid as the, they have become like huge stars now. And the paparazzi has started following them around because the paparazzi has discovered that they sell papers.
Sarah: It’s interesting. How, like a show that is just endless sequences of them doing boring everyday stuff would create a market for more media about them, you know, going to the cell phone store or whatever.
Mike: Yeah. And so she describes this scene where, because the paparazzi is reporting, you know, they're having marital troubles, he's cheating on her, whatever. So this gets into her head. So she talks about how they're going to some nightclub in LA, they're walking in, the security person, whatever pulls the rope back, they go in and then she's like, do you know that security person, you just nodded at her? And Nick is like, what do you mean nodded? And she's like, that's a different nod than you normally make I’ll bet you know. And like, maybe she's being paranoid, maybe it's true. But she says, cue the cycle. I would accuse him of having a wandering eye and he would rip into me, making sure I knew I was the one causing the problems in our marriage. Everything was my fault. In a real way, I agreed there was something Nick wanted from me that I no longer had an emptiness I couldn't fill. And neither could he. They're just sort of going through the motions. They actually tried to get out of doing season three of newlyweds, but the contract, like they had already signed the contract. She's not allowing herself to consider divorce because of God. And he doesn't want to go to therapy because he's nervous that the therapist is going to rat them out to the tabloids.
Sarah: Yeah. Well, I mean, which is a reasonable fear.
Mike: He also thinks that they can work on it themselves and it's not a big deal. And then once they're actually doing season three of newlyweds and like, it's pretty obvious to everybody that like their marriage is on the rocks. And some of their little bickering show up in the footage and the paparazzi is catching them fighting. The producers of newlyweds start trying to create fights between them. So at one point they're filming at some like lodge, chateau, whatever, the producers are like, Hey, did you see this in the tabloids? Apparently Nick Lachey was hanging out with like some porn star and like some city did, did you happen to see this? And Jessica is like, it just dawns on her that like, this is what they're doing, right. That it's like, they've created this scenario where they're away from everybody else. It's just the two of them in the cameras. And they're just trying to pick a fight between the two of them.
Sarah: It's like a social science experiment.
Mike: I know, you know, like here's the shitty thing that your husband may or may not have done.
Sarah: And we're rolling.
Mike: So at this stage as her marriage is floundering, this is when her movie career picks up and her love life picks up. So she starts filming the movie Dukes of Hazzard. Do you remember this movie?
Sarah: Oh yeah, I do. I remember seeing a bunch of trailers for this, for whatever reason.
Mike: Do you remember who her co-stars were in that movie?
Sarah: Yes. Sean William Scott.
Mike: Yeah. Of whom nothing is said in the entire book.
Sarah: I feel like he's like very of that time. Right. And then Willie Nelson. Yes. And I believe Linda Carter?
Mike: Who we're going to get to. I have a whole thing on Linda Carter. Yes
Sarah: Oh my gosh. Amazing.
Mike: But you're missing somebody. Was there another male lead?
Sarah: There was, and I can't remember who it was. Was it like Luke Wilson or somebody?
Mike: It was Johnny Knoxville.
Sarah: Oh my God. Of course it was right.
Mike: So what do you know about Johnny Knoxville? Tell us, tell the children.
Sarah: I feel like Johnny Knoxville. Now, that's a name I have not heard…
.Mike: I know that’s how I felt too! He’s also very like 2005.
Sarah: He’s very 2002, I would say, that's really his time. He's another great tank top wearer. Johnny Knoxville children had a program called Jackass, which was about a group of guys doing dangerous and or gross things together. And people loved it. I never watched it because I thought it was gross and it stressed me out.
Mike: That's why I didn't watch it either.
Sarah: And so he was like a big legit celebrity and then he transitioned to acting and he did a bunch of comedy movies in like the early and mid-2000s. And then I feel like I don't know what he's been up to, but I would love to know, just tell me all about all, about everything.
Mike: Well, he actually comes off as like a pretty good dude in this book compared to other dudes, we will meet later.
Sarah: Sure. I can see that. I can see someone who's like my professional career is going to be about getting in a giant shopping cart and being pushed off a cliff with my friends. Being like weirdly well-adjusted because their professional life is like all id.
Mike: Apparently, she's his costar, she goes to Baton Rouge where they're filming the Dukes of Hazzard. They do a scene together. And afterwards he says, “Great job, lady”, which becomes his nickname for her. And he goes in for a hug and she notices that he holds the hug just like a little too long. And she's like, Oh, what's going on?
Sarah: Hello? Or Luke Duke.
Mike: So she starts filming this movie. It's a nice break because she's away from Nick and LA and filming Newlyweds for three months. And so it's sort of like kids that study abroad.
Sarah: Yeah. I bet being on a movie set would be really nice. Cause there's like the time when you do your scenes and then you're like, cool, I'm going to go to my trailer and I'm going to eat my tuna in peace and no one's going to be rude to me about it.
Mike: She starts hanging out with Willie Nelson, who apparently just shows up with his tour bus, like he's not living in a trailer. And so she'll just go and hang out on his tour bus with his wife.
Sarah: Why not? If you're Willie Nelson
Mike: . Yeah. And so they start singing songs together and just like hanging out all the time.
Sarah: Oh, she gets to hang out with a real musician.
Mike: Who's like really supportive and cool. It seems like, and his wife also seems really nice. Importantly, she hangs out with Linda Carter who was in the Wonder Woman TV show in the late seventies, but just like a super dope lady. She has been playing in bands and touring in bands since she was 14. Apparently she was a waitress and she saw a band performing at the restaurant where she worked and she was like, how much did they make? And they're like $50. And she's like, I'm joining a band. Fine. She was Miss Phoenix. Then Miss Arizona, then Miss World. Then she bounced because she didn't want to like cut ribbons. She was like reading a bunch of Gloria Steinem apparently, and was like, fuck this. I don't want to do this. And so she just like left the pageant scene because she thought it was gross and she like takes Jessica aside. And this is what she says is what Jessica says in her book. “Get ready. She warned me. People are going to want you to be in those Daisy Duke shorts, the rest of your life. Putting on the shorts on the set and having a group of people lean back to see if my butt looked good enough, Linda had been there, fighting for our rights in her set and tights, but she also told me to embrace playing such a strong, forthright character, such as Daisy or in her case Wonder Woman. There were times she said slowly, I think she saved me.”
As she's doing this, she's away. She's at summer camp. She starts having what she describes as an emotional affair with Johnny Knoxville. According to her, it doesn't go anywhere. He is married. He has a daughter, and they commence this like relationship or like neither one of them are talking about what's really going on. But they just have to start like having these intense conversations and just hanging out a lot and becoming really important to each other.
Sarah: Yeah. He's her camp boyfriend. They are at summer camp.
Mike: Yeah. And so in my notes for this part, I wrote, oh no, they're drinking whiskey and talking about books. Because like, they're talking about like his influences and his time in show business and his upbringing, you know, he's from Tennessee, they both sort of ended up sort of feeling like outsiders as celebrities.
Sarah: So it's not just a clever name.
Mike: She talks about how, it's also funny how, because she's in this marriage that has been so dysfunctional for so long, he's basically clearing this extremely low bar, like he’ll ask her about her day and you know, what did you think of filming today? And she'll talk and he'll listen. And just like, no one has done that for so long that she's like, oh my God, this guy, like, we have this really intense bond. And it's like, no, you've just been in like a really bad marriage for a long time. And you haven't had like a normal conversation with somebody.
Sarah: Well it’s like she's been on the emotional equivalent of like her constant crash dieting. And Johnny Knoxville is like a bagel with hummus. And he's like, this bagel is like the greatest thing. And you’re like, it's just a bagel, but like bagels are amazing. And like you're in a state to really appreciate one.
Mike: She says, this is so sad. She says, I could share the deepest, authentic thoughts with him, and he didn't roll his eyes.
Sarah: Oh that’s terrible! And I'm so glad that Johnny Knoxville was like this relationship angel for her that’s so sweet.
Mike: I know it's wild. He actually ends up leaving his wife a year after this. So it seems like they're both going through the same thing. Like they're both doing the study abroad, like I'm going to explore something else thing at the same time. One thing that is really interesting and like, because I'm so interested in like friendship as an institution, I think a really important thing that your friends do is tell you when you're being immoral. And so at this time she's telling her friend Casey, who worked for the record company and was sort of in charge of getting Jessica, her GED and they became friends.
And so she's gushing about Johnny Knoxville to Cacee one night and she's like, I think he's saving me. And her friend is like, you can save yourself. You're building this up way too much. And then Casey, her friend kind of like takes her aside and is like, you are being chicken shit. If you want to leave your husband, leave Your husband, if you want to stay with your husband, stay with your husband. But what you're doing now is this in-between thing. It's really inconsiderate to your husband and it's, you're wasting everybody's time. You know what you're doing is wrong because you're not telling your husband about it. So you should probably just decide to do one thing or the other.
Sarah: And not put yourself in the state of continual discomfort of being sort of deceptive to everyone, including yourself.
Mike: Yes. After this conversation, she's like, all right, you're right. I'm going to try to save my marriage. She ends up spending. $150,000 on a birthday party for him to be like a grand gesture to like, maybe this will help fix us. And then of course she says like, ladies do not do this. Like don't, don't spend $150,000 on someone thinking it's going to like fix the fundamental problems between you, because it won't. Eventually Nick moves to Baton Rouge to be closer to her. He's like recording an album there's studios in Louisiana so he moves there. And she says, it's like, it's the worst time. Because like, she's a summer camp, you know, and then ultimately her previous life, and she seen this sort of the possibilities of a world without him.
Sarah: A Jessica divided against herself cannot stand.
Mike: Yeah. They're also, they're fighting with the producers of Newlyweds because they're trying to get footage and Jessica and Nick are fighting so much now that apparently it was a rule that they could tell the producers at any time, like stop rolling. Like we need to have a real conversation right now. And they're saying stop rolling to the producers so often that the producers are like, we don't have any footage. You're not giving us anything. Like if you keep doing this, there's not going to be a show because like they cannot interact without fighting anymore. It's becoming this thing where they're both just completely faking their way through this quote unquote reality show.
Sarah: Yeah. Is it when, what period is the chicken of the sea comment from? Is that from-
Mike: That’s season one.
Sarah: So that's when things are going well?
Mike: Yes. Which is kind of dark.
Sarah: Wow. So that's like the high point.
Mike: Yeah. It's like, it's still kind of cute. Then at this point it's like not cute anymore.
Sarah: I guess, like, you know, that you can tell when people have unspoken beef with each other.
Mike: Yeah. Yeah. And so they tried couples therapy. I mean, as we've talked about on the show so many times there's so few role models for adult conflict resolution, it's actually really useful for them to get like communication skills and the therapist gives them like, again, like normal ass advice. Of like, you need to listen to each other, you need to like, make I statements, try to say, like, I'm feeling this, like, what's a better way for us to communicate, what are you really thinking about? And so they start working on it and she says he just stopped showing up for the therapy.
Sarah: Like literally he stopped coming?
Mike: Like he literally stops coming. And so I guess we're not doing this anymore. And so apparently sort of she's in like desperation and she goes into Willie Nelson's tour bus and was like, Willie, like my relationships coming apart. What's your advice? Should I stay? Should I go? What should I do? And Willie Nelson's basically like, I don't know you, I don't know the situation well enough. Like, I can't tell you what to do, but he picks up a guitar and he starts strumming and she starts singing, Will the Circle be Unbroken, which is like this really beautiful, like funeral song. And so she's like crying and singing the song and it just like clicks with her that like, she's going to have to leave this marriage. Like, that's kind of like, what does it.
Sarah: I feel like singing Will the Circle be Unbroken with Willie Nelson is the kind of thing that would like make you have a breakthrough. Wow. It's like a song that sort of makes you feel buoyant to hear, to sing, and it is about death, that sort of acceptance of death as part of a larger story. And, you know, and I think you can kind of experience thinking about the death of a relationship that way. I feel like Willie Nelson is like the Gandalf figure and he's, I know what to do.
Mike: He’s this wise presence in her life. The movie comes out, she moves back to LA. Apparently the movie's a hit and Nick sort of sees it as competition. So he can't really be as happy for her.
Sarah: Nick be happy for her.
Mike: And then her and Knoxville end up getting in like kind of a fight because she sort of goes to him cause like she's not at summer camp anymore.
Sarah: She's like, I'm attending to my like grown-up life and that’s a lot.
Mile: She stops answering his emails. They stopped calling and then he sort of confronts her of like, that's really rude what you did to me. Like you could have just, we could have talked about it. And then she does the thing of like, what are we doing here, dude? We both know what this was.
Sarah: Right. Like, what do you require from me? We have never discussed what is going on.
Mike: We’re both in failing marriages. And we're both using this as a break from our failing marriages, but we've never talked about it. What, what do you expect from me, man? So the night of November 22nd, right before Thanksgiving of 2005, she tells Nick that she wants to get a divorce. He later says that like he was blindsided, and he wasn't expecting it, which she takes to be is like a huge dig on her of like, how the fuck were you not expecting this? All we do is fight. We have been to couples therapy. We barely interact anymore. We haven't had sex. You're at strip clubs all the time with your boys. You're in the paparazzi. What did you think was going to happen, dude?
Sarah: Yeah, which I think again, speaks maybe to his expectation of marriage where there are a lot of people who are like, yeah, sure, this marriage is like unpleasant and everything, but like it's whatever.
Mike: And so apparently, she tells her dad and her dad of course is like, Oh, I think this was the right thing to do. It's like, he's always wanted the marriage to be over so he's like, yes, I agree with your decision.
Sarah: Well, if she has that support, I guess.
Mike: The very next morning, she says, we should put out a statement saying that we're getting separated because this will help me stick to it. Like if we announce it in the press, it'll feel real. And I can't just like, call a mulligan and get back together with him.
Sarah: That's very smart.
Mike: Yes. And so she's getting on a plane from LA to go visit her grandparents in Texas. And she's on the phone with her dad or whoever. And she's like, yep. Let's put out a statement. Like let's do it. She gets on the plane and she's just like blubbering for the entire flight. Like we have all been in this stage of the breakup. Like for most of us, it's like crying on the bus. But for Jessica Simpson, it's like crying in first class.
Sarah: But either way you're staring at some rain.
Mike: She also is, this is again, like very relatable and very unrelatable, that the movie on the plane, cause it was back when flights are like one movie at a time, the movie on the plane is the fucking Notebook. So she's like, I have to watch the goddamn Notebook, like, while I’m in like the worst breakup. And she also mentioned like casually she's like, it was also weird to be watching the Notebook because they had actually offered me the role, but I turned it down because of the sex. Like I didn't want to do a movie with a sex scene. And so, and also it's like Ryan Gosling, who like she knew when he was 11 in like the worst moment of her life.
Sarah: Oh, Jessica.
Mike: It’s like, we all feel weird when we watch the Notebook, but like, Jessica Simpson feels like triple weird when she watches the Notebook.
Sarah: Yeah. There is a story about Elizabeth Berkley once sat in business class next to a guy who watched Showgirls, and apparently didn't recognize her.
Mike: That's dark. One of the weirdest details is she says, by the time she lands in Texas, like that's not that long of a flight. she can see on CNN is reporting her breakup.
Sarah: Wow, that's so weird. And then it's like you land and you come out of the gate and the TV is like, announcing your breakup. And you're like, I know.
Mike: Yeah, because she comes from this super conservative family, it's right before Thanksgiving. Right. So she hangs out with her grandparents who tell her to give it another chance. Her mom tells her to basically smile and get through it. I wrote ‘ew’ about this margin. Her mom says, you're America's couple, get back with him. It's going to be fine.
Sarah: Ew, indeed. I concur.
Mike: It's like the apotheosis of her parents' transformation. These are the people that they are now, of like, oh, for PR reasons, you should stay in this marriage that you're really unhappy in.
Sarah: And also, I guess it's so weird for your mom to be like, you're America's marriage, sweetie. And it's like, well, it's not like I'm leading the resistance. Like, is this really so crucial? I need to sacrifice my personal happiness for it. Like tell me mother.
Mike: Yeah. So she goes back to LA. She moves out of the house. She talks about the house, that it feels like a studio because that's where they filmed this fake ass show about their fake ass marriage. And she's like, I don't, I don't want to live in this house. It's not really my house. And so apparently she just like gets the dog and leaves and she gets a house in a gated community in Beverly Hills where Nicole Kidman, Penelope Cruz, and Cameron Diaz also live.
Sarah: I wonder if they jog together every. And because of when this is taking place, I'm picturing them all in like juicy couture jogging, suits.
Mike: She starts dating other guys, but she doesn't name any names or give any specifics. She's just like, I was dating a lot, like, a lot. I just want you to know. I saw a lot of guys.
Sarah: Good for Jessica.
Mike: I know. This is the first time in her life she's been single, like she's hot, she's single. So she's super independent. There's a scene where she goes to a bookstore and she buys a bunch of like old, like Lord Byron and Elizabeth Barrett Browning books. Like she comes up to the register with a stack of books and she's, you know, no makeup, her hair's in a ponytail. She's wearing a baseball cap and the checkers like ringing her up. And the checker apparently is like, don't take this the wrong way, but did anyone tell you that you look like a smart version of Jessica Simpson and she's like, Thank you. I get that a lot.
Sarah: Because ponytail equals smart.
Sarah: And so her, and Lachey sit down to finalize the divorce. At the time they got divorced, she was worth roughly $35 million, and he was worth $5 million. So a complete inversion of where they were at the beginning of their relationship and like much larger sums. They spend months in like lawyers going back and forth. And eventually Jessica Simpson just like, fuck it. Like whatever we need to give him to get this over with, let's do it. So it sounds like it's somewhere between 10 and $15 million that she gives him to just get rid of him, like half of her net worth. And one thing that's very interesting is he's actually weirdly cool during this period in front of cameras, like the public facing self. He does some shitty stuff. He makes a music video featuring his new girlfriend where she's like dressed up as Jessica Simpson, kind of like the Cry Me A River video. It kind of casters like this ice queen, which is like, don't, don't do that. But he also gives an interview to Rolling Stone in 2006, as all of this is going on. And there's this interesting thing where like they sort of pushed him because there's all these rumors that Jessica Simpson was cheating on him with Johnny Knoxville. There's apparently a rumor about Adam Levine.
Sarah: Is he in Good Charlotte?
Mike: Oh, he's the Maroon Five.
Sarah: Maroon Five. Okay. This is, he's just like in my head, in the category of like music I didn't listen to.
Mike: Yes. Yes. And one thing that Nick Lachey says that I appreciate, like on grading on the curve of the other men that we have met on this podcast, the journalist is like, do you think that she was cheating on you? And he says, first of all, I don't think she was cheating on me. And secondly, if she was, it's a symptom of a larger issue in the relationship.
Sarah: Aw! Nick Lachey! I love that.
Mike: It's like actually pretty mature.
Sarah: Oh totally.
Mike: And also, he doesn't take the bait as an excuse to slam her.
Sarah: Right. Cause they're just teeing all these golf balls up for him. And he's like, no, thank you.
Mike: You know, they, they present him with a rumor of like, was she sleeping with Adam Levine? And he's like, you know what? I was assigned, like, whatever celebrity function thing, Adam Levine was there too. He says they weren't dating while we were married. And I believe him. And it's like, again, could have done like a petty, you know, oh, his band sucks, bleh.
Sarah: It just speaks to how morally complex humans are that you can have someone who's like, you know, who really turns into like no picnic to be married to, but he still understands how to behave honorably. Once things, you know, are ending.
Mike: It also sounds like, as this sort of like always is that like things hadn't worked out with Johnny Knoxville, even though she's broken up now, it's kind of like-
Sarah: Shyness off the Apple.
Mike: It was never really going to happen. Right.
Sarah: He was her camp boyfriend.
Mike: Yes, exactly. And so the last time she sees Nick Lachey, he's got a new album out. Apparently like all of the songs on the album are about her. It's clear that he's like working through some stuff. She sort of sees him giving these interviews , in the Rolling Stone interview he's like crying a lot and like clearly not over it. And so she kind of feels sorry for him. And so she gives him a call and she's like, hey, you know how holding’ up. It's now been, I think like six, three, six months since the divorce, he's like, Ooh, you know, back and forth. And she invites him over. She's like, why don't you come over? We can like, get some takeout and like chat and catch up, whatever. So he comes over and apparently, he like plays her his album. And she's kind of cringing. He's playing these songs where it's clearly an attempt to work through his feelings about her and like maybe get her back. And he's sort of singing along and being like, yeah, like wait for when the drums to kick in. And he's just like being kind of a douche. And she says like, she doesn't sigh in the book, but you can like hear her sigh where she's just, he's doing all this. And she's like, *sigh* so I slept with him.
Sarah: So he would stop singing.
Mike: And it's like, yeah, you did Jessica.
Sarah: Yeah. Sometimes that's just what happens.
Mike: It's your ex, it's so easy. The food is there, the music is there. Right?
Sarah: You're like, I remember this. I like things I remember.
Mike: I have been both people in that exchange, the person who sleeps with their cringey ex and I have been the cringy ex. So I like, on every level, like this appeals to me.
Sarah: Oh yeah. I feel like this is pretty classic,
Mike: Then also very typically, the minute they're done having sex, he's just like, okay, see you around. He doesn't sleep over. It's very clear to both of them, apparently that like, this is not rekindling something. This is not us, like, let's give it another shot. It's like, it's over. It's like the sex you have when you both know whatever was there, isn't there anymore.
Sarah: Yeah. It's like setting Boromir’s canoe on fire, you know, you just got to send it off.
Mike: Yeah. And so what she says is “when he walked out the door, I knew I would never see him again.”
Sarah: Goodbye. Boromir.
Mike: And that's it he's out of her life. That's where we're going to leave it.
Sarah: Okay. So what are we going to talk about next time?
Mike: We, Oh my God.
Sarah: What aren't we going to talk about?
Mike: We're going to spend some time with John Mayer.
Sarah: Your body is a wonderland.
Mike: His personality is not a Wonderland. We're going to learn this next week, but I think, what do you think? What are your Jerry's final thoughts?
Sarah: Oh, well, what was the thing Jerry always said? Be good to each other. I mean that always, and just that, I don't know. I like hearing this as the story of like someone's first marriage. I think, or just, you know, like first serious relationship stories or the sys of relationship stories.
Mike: This is a lot of people's first relationship stories.
Sarah: Totally. It just makes sense that a lot of the time, if you commit to something when you're young in age or experience like that, if things continue to go well in your life, that you're going to likely grow out of that relationship. And then it comes down to like people being able to be honest and constructive enough to figure out how to move on. And these people did. And yeah, it's really nice to be talking about one of those stories. So I'm glad we did it.
Mike: And one where they don't destroy each other. I mean, they, you know, he acted terribly, I think she was also quite inconsiderate to him, but like there wasn't anything serious enough that's like really going to break the other person as a person, you don't get into any rage. We don't even technically have infidelity.
Sarah: Well, it's just, it's like two people who just were like jerks to each other for a few years, you know, is kind of the most severe thing you can say about it. And you're like, yeah. And it sucks to waste time in your life with someone who doesn't make you feel totally appreciated and secure and loved. And this is about the process of figuring that out.
Mike: Yes. With like a little patina of like weird like Notebook script approval on top of all of it. But yeah, I think this is an important story to tell, even though it is an extremely common one.
Sarah: I think that's why, and yeah, and I'm excited. I'm just really excited, honestly, for having learned this much about Jessica's life. Hearing about, you know, what does she do after getting divorced? How does she find her way to where she is now? And then how does she arrive at writing the book? What does the industry do to her? All of that. I’m very invested.
Mike: So that's, that's all we have, I think. If you're ever in a relationship, go film a movie in Baton Rouge for three months, and if it ever gets really bad, find a guitar and Willie Nelson. And just start strumming.
Sarah: If you possibly can, it’s probably a good idea.