AV Club is making fun of Nicole Richie for getting a hip-mom sitcom. While I definitely find the daughter-of-privilege-jumps-the-creative-process-line thing annoying (one of the Kardashians recently did it too, landing on One Life to Live), I actually don’t feel as vexed by this news. More so than her buddy Paris Hilton, Richie’s drug problem appears to have been serious and debilitating rather than recreational. She But she also appears to have put the work into turning herself into a productive adult and mother. She broke with Rachel Zoe amidst rumors that the stylist was encouraging her to stay unhealthily thin. These days, she seems cute, and kicky, and a devoted mom, and if she wants to get back into working closer to full-time, who am I to mock her for pursuing something commercially viable?
Redemption narratives are, themselves, a commercial product. It’s impossible to know how genuine the changes in Richie’s life are, or what they mean to her. But they sell magazines, and talk-show interviews, and gossip columns. They sell us on the idea that we want to see someone succeed, and so we turn out to watch their television shows and see their movies to see if they really have it together, and to make ourselves feel good for supporting someone who has improved their life via willpower, by which we mean expensive rehabilitation facilities. We get to think we’re moral participants in their success, we’re virtuous for enjoying junk.