Nick and Jessica's Family Christmas
December 4, 2004
Yes, I watched it. Yes, I took notes. You know you've hit a low point
when you're scribbling down Jessica Simpson witticisms and one liners set
to a laugh track.
Even sadder than the notes, is that this was a scheduled event on my
calendar. "Don't forget Nick and Jess -- Wednesday at 9!" Since learning of
it from Entertainment Weekly months ago, I knew where I would be spending the evening
of December 1. Not only would it produce easy fodder for this site,
Nick and Jessica's wacky family antics were sure to be a hoot. Wait -- it gets
better! The special marks the first time Jessica and her sister, Ashlee,
perform together on TV. Did I mention the mesmerizing reunion of 98º -- including
Nick's brother, Drew? Sweet baby Jesus, is this exciting or what!?!
The celebrity Christmas special is making a comeback. Nick and Jessica lead
the charge; however The Clay Aiken Christmas Special, which airs on December
8, follows closely on their heels. Despite the animal magnetism that is sure
to be the central feature of Clay's show, it is improbable that today's holiday
specials will reach the level of popularity they enjoyed during the 60's and 70's.
The classic TV variety hour had a little sumthin sumthin for everyone, big and small. All
sorts jumped on the bandwagon: Carol Burnett, the Star Wars cast (starring an
obviously coked-up Carrie Fisher), Judy Garland, Sonny and Cher, Frank and Bing,
Pee-wee Herman, the Osmonds, Lassie, Perry Como, the Brady Bunch. Even Neil
Diamond, AKA the "Jewish Elvis," aired an HBO special in 1992.
One duo deserves special attention: who can forget the string of happy
Christmases hosted by America's singing sibling sensation, The Carpenters?
For four magical seasons, Karen and Richard entertained such guests as Kristy
and Jimmy McNichol, Gene Kelly and Ella Fitzgerald. This was around the time Kristy and Jimmy
had a brother-sister hit, He's So Fine. The Carpenters particularly liked
the young McNichols; Kristy and Jimmy's presence raised fond memories of Karen and Richard's
own early success. These recollections harkened back to a happier time when
Karen still ingested solid food and Richard wasn't in a Quaalude-induced
fog. Unfairly, Karen takes all the heat for being the fucked up one in the
family. The Carpenters: A Christmas Portrait (1978), features Karen mixing up
a huge batch of brownies. "I'm giving everybody food!" she pipes in, all smiles,
as her anorexic arm barely manages to hold the spatula. As she struggled
with the eating disorder that would eventually kill her, her control freak
brother, Richard, was popping 'ludes like candy. He checked into rehab one
month after their final special, Music, Music, Music, aired in 1980. Ah,
It is on the Nick and Jessica special that I first hear Nick's last name, "Lachey," said out loud.
Taken from print, I had always interpreted it as "Latchey." Imagine how stupid I feel upon learning it is
pronounced "la-shay." I should have spent more time tuning in to the
Nick/Jessica MTV reality show. Why bother? Every retarded
thing she did was dutifully rehashed in daily papers around the country:
- Jessica Simpson thinks Buffalo Wings come from an actual buffalo.
- Jessica Simpson doesn't know if "Chicken of the Sea" is chicken or if it comes from the sea.
- Jessica Simpson farts a lot.
- Jessica Simpson was a virgin until she got married.
We get it; she's a moron. The Christmas special makes the most (and then some)
of her reputation for idiocy. Without it, the producers would only be left with
her gigantic boobies. Oh, and her singing.
The singing...what would a Family Christmas be without singing? I long for the
days when my own family gathered 'round the Yule Log to sing O Holy Night in
three-part harmony. (Mama sang bass.) Huh? Oh, right...that was someone else's
family. My memories primarily revolve around the Amy Grant and Anne Murray
Christmas CDs that were on constant shuffle on my mother's stereo. I'm grinding
my teeth just thinking about it.
Nick and Jessica are quite happy to oblige us with their stunning vocal
capabilities. The special opens with Jessica, clad in a skintight white
pantsuit, gold lame belt and knee-high, heeled boots, mincing about a rustic
"Christmas cabin." Nick emerges and they launch into a touching choreographed
rendition of Baby, It's Cold Outside. As she shimmies and he lumbers, the laugh
track chimes in at the "funny" moments. I'd love to provide specific
examples of the hilarity; however my notes are proving uncooperative at this point.
The duet ends when Jessica leaps into Nick's arms, the taut material of her outfit
straining noticibly. Dear Lord, her boobs are huge! I hope for a commercial so
I can refill my glass of wine. I could use a few Quaaludes of my
own at this point...a drugged stupor seems the only appropriate way to foster
new Christmas memories with Nick and Jessica. Before the show can cut over to
an ad for Pepsi Spice, one of Nick's gorky cousins appears on the screen
Real World confessional-style. He wins me over with tales of the
infamous "wrapping paper fights" that go down at the Lachey house come
Christmas day. Even Grandpa joins in on the fun! Good times, good times!
The rest of the show goes essentially like this: Nick hams it up in a dumb skit,
Jessica sings, a "special guest" comes onto the set and sings, Nick "acts" in another
"hilarious" skit, Jessica says something inane, she sings (her mouth contorts crookedly like the
famous "Cher grimace"), Nick and Jess appear in a "couples skit," more Christmas memories
are revealed, singing, the end.
Let's talk about the skits. Remember, this special aired at 9 pm on ABC; the
FCC would be watching and the producers had to keep it clean. Incidentally,
the Executive Producer was Jessica's very own daddy/manager, Joe Simpson.
With Big Joe at the helm, you knew that good Christian fun would be in store...or would it?
Scenario 1: Licking the Pole
Jessica runs about the set, trying to catch fake snow on her out-stretched tongue.
Are the snowflakes some sort of processed potato product? I can't tell.
But whoops, before you can say "glaring innuendo" her tongue is stuck to
a conveniently placed "frozen" pole covered with a thin layer of white froth.
Oh, whatever will poor Jessie do? She struggles, moaning ever so softly. Soon
Nick enters and chastises his unfortunate wife: "I told you not to stick your
tongue to that pole!" (He probably had to repeat the obvious in case any blind
people were tuning in to the show.) In her panic to free herself, Jessica grabs
Nick and -- yikes! -- his tongue becomes stuck as well. This scene
has a little something for everyone; the sight of Jess and Nick,
simultaneously tonguing the pole, provides girls, guys and gays with ample
masturbation material for weeks. Think of it as an extra special Christmas gift to all their fans.
Scenario 2: Lickable Deodorant
Nick, shirtless, walks into a locker room. He faces the camera, pecs all
a'glistnin', and applies a healthy slather of lickable antiperspirant to his
unshaven underarms. This deodorant is apparently so tasty that a perky
cheerleader walks up and licks away the white froth coating his armpits.
Why the anonymous whore licking Nick and not his dedicated and faithful
wife? Jessica must have been suiting up for her next vocal performance.
More likely, Producer Daddy drew the line at his little angel licking her
husband's armpits onscreen. Camel toe and cleavage are no problem, but
armpits...that's just dirty. If women aren't your thing, the
deodorant also attracts overweight, balding middle-aged men. One such fellow
exclaims, after sponging his tongue upon Nick's yummy crevice, "Ummm, tastes
like waffles!" Again, score a point for Team Gay.
Scenario 3: The Re-Animation of Bing Crosby
This isn't so much a "skit" as it is an abomination to anyone who holds the
institution of the "Christmas Special" sacred. As Nick gathers his buxom wife
into his arms, a Bing Crosby hologram suddenly pops into view behind them.
Bing, always the Crooner, joins the happy couple in the all-time holiday
fave, White Christmas. Even though Bing Crosby died in 1977, he was still
billed as a "special guest star" on Nick and Jessica's Family Christmas.
At least there was no licking in this segment.
As another special guest, Brian McKnight is the Token Black Man. He
arrives a la the canned doorbell chime, enters and embraces Jessica Simpson
awkwardly. I've failed to mention that one of the show's major schticks is
Jessica's fascination with a remote control that "can make snow fall outside
or presents appear" at the push of a button. This same hand-held remote can
also magically make twenty black back-up singers appear. It's a Christmas Miracle!
For the life of me, I can't tell you what song they did (and I'm sure it was
incredibly soulful and moving); I was too taken with the Black Man's Bling to
pay much attention. One sleeve of Mr. McKnight's blue turtleneck sweater is
strategically rolled up to reveal his enormous Rolex, while at the waist,
the sweater is partially tucked in to show off his gargantuan bling bling belt
buckle. He must be doing well for himself.
I can't conclude this exclusive coverage of Nick and Jessica's Family Christmas
without touching briefly on the much-anticipated 98º reunion. The
doorbell chimes again and -- what lo -- Justin, Jeff and Nick's brother Drew
saunter onto the set. I had to look up their names on the "Official 98 Degrees Website."
The website has all sorts of intriguing facts about the guys. For instance,
Justin (every boy-band has to have one) favors "orange juice" and "donuts,
pizza and chili." He also favors hats, as he never seems to appear without one.
He can't let the 10-year-old girls and their mothers see that he's balding.
A shiny pate doesn't do a whole lot for the "teen heart throb" rep.
Jessica scampers out to "play in the snow" (Nick advises her "not to eat the
yellow stuff"). A blue light bathes the foursome as they gather around a piano
to sing...something. I get up to refill my wine.
The hour of Family Christmas fun is nearing its close; I realize the promised
Jessica/Ashlee "never before seen on TV" performance is still to come. The
sisters do not disappoint. During their rendition of Little Drummer Boy,
family photos of Simpson Christmases past drift across the screen: Jessica and
Ashlee as children, Ashlee pre dyed-black-helmet-hair, grandparents, laughter,
heaps of presents. A tear trickles down my cheek as I think about the sleigh
rides and roasted chestnuts I used to enjoy with my own family...until I
recall these "memories" happened in a Lifetime movie I saw last week.
Nick and Jessica's Family Christmas concludes with a heartwarning version of Silent Night.
Not only do we get one more Nick/Jess duet, but dozens of representatives from both
the Simpson and Lachey clans gather on stage to join them. Judging from their faces, most of the
relatives look like they'd rather be somewhere shoveling horse manure. I wonder how
much they were paid.
If you missed Nick and Jessica's Family Christmas, never fear; MTV
will begin replaying (and replaying and replaying) it on December 12. In the meantime,
I need to mentally prepare myself for Clay's special this coming Wednesday. He's
so dreamy...someday he'll make one lucky girl (ahem) very happy.