For the most part, the narrative was constructed so that Simpson made Lachey seem exceedingly normal or sanguine by virtue of her own shortcomings. But CaCee allowed Jessica to seem like the wise one. With her best friend, Jessica could scold Nick behind his back or talk about life in Los Angeles from a place of authority.
CaCee was there to make her friend look good. It was a new side of Jessica — though, ultimately, CaCee was the real revelation. She arrived in L. CaCee Cobb is a pioneer. She was the proto—celebrity best friend, a second banana for the reality TV era. In the 10 years since CaCee arrived in L. For example, The Hills had Lo Bosworth. And maybe even more important, she contributed a level of authenticity that The Hills lacked.
For all of the obviously staged scenes, the show did not have to work hard to convince its viewers that Lauren and Lo were choosing to spend time together. Laguna Beach had done that work. Their scenes were free from the scrutiny that burdened the characters and the show itself — they were natural together. Characters like CaCee and Lo have become staples of the reality TV economy, even as the genre has changed. In addition to their utility, actual friendship is still one of the most compelling relationships that these shows can depict.
All the Housewives franchises become less interesting when new characters are imposed on existing friend groups. Their commonality was choosing a lifestyle that predated the TV show, as opposed to living in a way that the TV show dictated. Even on The Simple Life, the fun in watching was derived not just from seeing Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie embarrass themselves, but seeing how they did it together, too. Even though there are plenty of fake love interests and artificial plotlines, best friends abound.
Khloe is the most obvious: She married a basketball player, too, but seemingly for love and not publicity. What was she thinking?
She separated from Lamar Odom amid accusations that he is a crack addict. Even if you hate Kanye, the dude makes good music. Khloe makes her sister look good, but not by being an available sounding board — she makes Kim look good by making worse choices, which would seem difficult considering that Kim skyrocketed to fame after a sex tape she made with Ray J surfaced.
Kim also has companions outside of the family. She has Jonathan Cheban. He was moderately famous before Keeping Up for his work as a publicist for people like Puff Daddy. Recently, on the show, he was accused of leaking information about Kourtney and Scott Disick to the press.
He is fueling a story line, and, if the accusations are true, seeding rumors that keep the Kardashian name lucrative. Together, Khloe and Cheban do for Kim what a former Texas bumpkin used to be able to accomplish. No matter how hard you try, these people will not let you forget about them. The plotlines develop over social media before we see them on television, and magazines like Us Weekly keep the stars relevant between seasons.
Meanwhile, the notoriety of these supposed no. In the case of Cheban, being the best friend has allowed him to transition from celebrity adjacent as a PR professional to a celebrity in his own right.
He even employs his own security guard! Imagine all of the Instagrams she could have posted! A reality star and her second banana live in a new kind of symbiosis. These reality TV second bananas are no longer just servants. They exact their own hegemony. If Newlyweds resembled an unscripted sitcom, the genre has evolved into something more structured. With this new kind of programming comes a new kind of star.
And we should be afraid. Kendall is coming for the crown, though.