"Newlyweds" Nick & Jessica Now Newly SeparatedNick Lachey and Jessica Simpson have announced their separation in a statement released Wednesday.
Yes indeed, the stars of MTV's "Newlyweds: Nick & Jessica" have confirmed what the gossip rags have been whispering about for months: Jess attending sister Ashlee's 21st b-day alone, Nick prowling the clubs for girls, both appearing in public without their wedding rings -- reality TV's happiest couple is happy no more.
Their story itself is the stuff of B-list legend. The couple met back in 1999, when fledgling pop singer Simpson performed as the opening act for Lachey's boy band, 98 Degrees. The then 19-year-old pastor's daughter (and Mickey Mouse Club reject) caught 26 year-old Nick's eye (he predicted she was the girl he'd marry), they sung a duet single ("Where You Are"), and dated for four years (technically they took a break in 2001, but reunited after the September 11 attacks). The duo was married in 2002 (when Jessica became a model for abstinence, making it public knowledge that she'd waited for her wedding night to have sex).
Of course, Nick and Jessica only truly reached superstar status once they landed their own reality show: "Newlyweds" first aired in 2002, following the couple as they struggled with their careers, and each other, in their Calabasas, CA home. The low-key, behind-the-scenes drama and hilarity of their daily lives proved astoundingly popular with viewers, most notably thanks to Jessica's "dumb blonde" routine (Chicken of the Sea? Buffalo wings?). The show became a hit and went on for three glorious seasons.
Cut to 2005. Many speculate the rift between the Lachey-Simpsons can be directly attributed to one thing: namely, fame. Hers has skyrocketed with chart-topping singles, a new acting career as Daisy Duke in 2005's "The Dukes of Hazzard," and a multi-million dollar fragrance line of dessert-flavored products. And Nick's career? No film roles, no cosmetic line, and one disappointing solo album (2003's "SoulO"). In fact, his most recent exposure (besides the Sonny & Cher-esque "The Nick & Jessica Variety Hour" and similar joint productions) has come as a guest sports commentator for ESPN and a small role on "Charmed."
Heartbroken fans may take solace in the fact that the Newlyweds have only announced a separation, and not divorce. Nick can continue making out with random girls in hotels. Jessica can keep denying rumors of affairs with "Dukes" co-star Johnny Knoxville, "Jackass" imp Bam Margera, or anyone else the tabs spot her with. The estranged couple can keep posing together for photo ops, feigning happiness before going their separate ways. In the end, true fans know that somewhere there's a love song -- a love duet, even -- that will reunite Nick & Jessica in sweet, pop music bliss, forever.
"Newlyweds: Nick & Jessica - The Complete Final Season" comes to DVD December 6, and already cites the Hollywood marriage in decline -- a perfect gift for that oh-so-special someone this Christmas!