VH1 says Nicole Richie’s new show — “Candidly Nicole,” derived from her AOL series — “inspires people to laugh, learn and shake their head in wonderment.” Well, one out of three ain’t bad. Richie has been around a little too long to still be playing the airheaded waif she presented opposite Paris Hilton in “The Simple Life,” but that’s essentially where this not-quite sitcom positions her, heavily relying on Richie to approximate her Twitter feed through direct-to-camera musings. With apologies to dad Lionel — who shows up in the premiere — it’s hard to imagine watching the lady twice or three times after seeing her once.
Described as a fashion icon, actress, author, entrepreneur and philanthropist, more than anything Richie seems to have joined the list of people who are essentially famous for being famous, and can mine that status so long as there are niche networks looking to trade off it.
But what, alas, to do with such a flimsy personality once you’ve hired her? The producers tackle that by putting Richie through various heavily staged situations, from her aversion to parallel parking to helping out a friend by serving as her online-dating alter ego.
All of this ensues in sitcom fashion, but the emphasis is so skewed toward musical cues and pained reaction shots that even mediocre scripted comedies look good by comparison. Oh, “2 Broke Girls,” all is forgiven.
Although the press release promises viewers a “fun and intimate ride” through Richie’s peculiar view of the world, there’s scant fun and virtually no intimacy, inasmuch as everything Richie says and does comes with an implied wink.
From that perspective, “Candidly Nicole” is as misnamed as it is misguided — and reason enough, as advertised, to shake one’s head in wonderment.