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Sit Me Baby One More Time: Britney Goes the Sitcom Route
March 24, 2008  | By David Bianculli
 
As the first step in her career reclamation attempt, troubled pop star Britney Spears goes the sitcom route.britney-spears-on-how-i-met copy.jpg

She appears tonight (8:30 p.m. ET) in a guest spot on the CBS comedy How I Met Your Mother, playing a doctor's office receptionist who attracts the attention of both and Ted and Barney. It's not the first time she's appeared on a sitcom, but circumstances couldn't be more different from the last time.

The last time was only two years ago. But two years ago, in the life of Britney Spears, was a completely different universe.

Will-and-Grace-Britney-Spea.jpg

She had yet to file for divorce or shave her head when she appeared on NBC's Will & Grace, playing against type as a conservative TV talk host paired as co-host with Sean Hayes' Jack. In 2006, Britney was giving a big positive publicity boost to Will & Grace. In 2008, How I Met Your Mother is giving at least as big a boost to her.

In recent years, one of the best places to find pop stars and celebrities stretching themselves a bit by guest-starring on a TV show, playing someone other than themselves, was on the NBC period drama American Dreams. That series, recreating performances on American Bandstand as part of its 1960s narrative, made room for dozens of notable guest appearances.

Among them: Kelly Clarkson as Brenda Lee (singing "Sweet Nothing"), Hilary and Haylie Duff as two of the Shangri-Las ("Leader of the Pack"), and Jennifer Love Hewitt as Nancy Sinatra ("These Boots Are Made for Walking"). Even Nicole Richie did well, singing "Tell Him" as the lead singer of The Exciters.

american-dreams-paris-hilto.jpg

Richie's former BFF, Paris Hilton, appeared on American Dreams also, as Barbara Eden, and made guest appearances, playing other characters, on Las Vegas, The O.C., Veronica Mars and even the sitcom George Lopez.

The idea of pop stars generating more publicity by appearing on sitcoms is by no means a new phenomenon. In the 1960s, it was commonplace for stars such as Peter & Gordon to appear on Batman, where Lesley Gore even played an apprentice bad kitty to Julie Newmar's Catwoman. The Monkees, of course, owed their very existence to the TV sitcom genre, and Monkee Davy Jones played himself on an iconic Brady Bunch episode in 1971.

Recently, though, sitcom crossovers by pop stars have been more rare. Jessica Simpson guest starred as blonde beach bunny Annette in three episodes of That 70's Show in 2003, but that was just before she exploded as the dim-witted star of the MTV reality series Newlyweds. Mandy Moore guest starred as Zach Braff's love interest on two episodes of NBC's Scrubs in 2006, but that was when they were involved in real life.

mandy-moore-how-i-met-your-.jpg

A much better example of singer-to-sitcom movement is when Moore, last year, intentionally played against type by portraying a tough-talking, tattooed, sexually aggressive bar-hopper in an episode of a CBS sitcom. Which one? How I Met Your Mother -- the same one pointing the spotlight at Spears tonight.

Spears did appear on a TV comedy last week, by the way: The latest episode of Comedy Central's South Park. It was a typically audacious plot, in which Cartman and his pals crashed Britney Spears' hotel room to try and get a picture.

britney-south-park-shotgun.jpg

They upset her so much, as the last straw in a crushing barrage of intrusive unwanted attention, that she grabbed a shotgun, pointed it at her mouth and pulled the trigger.

Brutal? Shockingly so. But as it played out on South Park, it shocked and haunted the young boys as well,who felt totally guilt-ridden by what they'd done.

 

britney-spears-south-park-h.jpgThis being South Park, though, there was a lot more story to go. Britney, for starters, didn't die, and the boys visited her in the hospital, where she made gurgling sounds withwhat little was left of her throat (and face, and skull)... then, forced by her ruthless management, resumed her recording career.

 The end of the episode warned of the next object of smothering teen idolatry and media overkill: Miley Cyrus, who rose to stardom on Hannah Montana.

Which, remember, is a TV sitcom.miley-cyrus-hannah-montana.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

2 Comments

 

Hoppy said:

Dave:
In the interest of accuracy, wasn't Brenda Lee's song plural? And no, I don't mean Sweets.
Hoppy (In different sources, it's referred to as Sweet Nothing, Sweet Nothings, Sweet Nothin', Sweet Nuthins, and Sweet Nothin's -- which going deeper into things, looks to be the consensus opinion. So yes, I was wrong.. but thing Nothin's of it. -- David B)

Comment posted on March 24, 2008 7:05 AM


Anchorgirl said:

As for that Brainstem Britney episode of South Park: What hath Mike the Headless Chicken wrought?

http://www.miketheheadlesschicken.org/story.html

(Oddly enough, I read about this chicken just last week... Amazing. And amazing that you made that connection, because I didn't have enough of a brain to do so... - David B)

Comment posted on March 24, 2008 6:44 PM

 
 
 
 
 
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