Britney Spears and I are the same age: both born in 1981, the year the first personal computer was sold in stores, the year that MTV was launched. From the moment that I saw Spears bouncing about with her fanned bangs on The Mickey Mouse Club in 1993, we have been locked in a lifelong battle (that she does not know about): Who is more successful? Who is having a more positive impact on the world? Who is creating better art? Who has skinnier arms?
Now we are both 35 years old, and a lot has transpired. We’ve both had our good and bad years, though she has still sold roughly 100 million more albums than I have (for the record, I have sold none). Our tender youth is gone, but we still have a lot of good years ahead. While I have accomplished some of my goals, however, Spears is already tallying one of the biggest marks of success in the entire universe: her very own Lifetime biopic. Yes, Britney Ever After will premiere this Saturday at 8/7c, and it will cover it all, from her sparkling rise to fame to her mid-2000s breakdown to her claw back toward the top.
As I raptly wait on the couch for Britney Ever After to air, let’s take a look back at our two lives, side by side.
Britney Spears and I were born on pretty even footing: neither of us could speak or walk, dance or sing. This quickly changed as Spears started taking dancing lessons and voice lessons, while I spent my early years playing Atari and picking my nose. Could I have been a superstar and pop icon if only my mom had signed me up for jazz lessons? We will never know, but I assume so.
Young Britney stars in The Mickey Mouse Club reboot along with future stars Justin Timberlake, Christina Aguilera and Ryan Gosling. The hit show gives Spears a chance to hone her talents while catching the eye of record companies and producers.
The very same year, I make a run for vice president at Dover-Sherborn Regional Middle School, only to lose to someone who had friends. I will never seek public office again.
Spears explodes onto the world stage with the release of ...Baby, One More Time. The album, which has sold 30 million copies and is one of the best-selling albums of all time, was paired with an iconic music video that featured Spears in a Catholic school girl outfit, midriff bare, with a pink fuzzy thing in her hair, entreating people to hit her. It was amazing.
That same spring, I graduated from high school. In an act of rebellion against social norms, and in preparation for attending a small liberal arts college, I began to part my hair in the middle.
Spears releases her second smash hit album, Oops!... I Did It Again, causing the world to wonder whether she could produce an album without an ellipsis in the title. She is nominated for her first two Grammys, one for Best New Artist and one for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. Sadly, she did not win either.
I also didn't win any Grammys that year, though I should stress that I didn't try like Spears did.
At the tender age of 20, Spears achieves my lifelong dream of publishing a novel, A Mother's Gift, which is about a very talented young woman who dreams of being a pop singer.
I am dumped on a park bench by a college boyfriend and fail Intro to Latin. Spears signs a $7 million advertising deal with Pepsi. I drink a Pepsi, maybe two, though not because of the Britney/Pepsi deal. I can't help but feel like I am falling behind when it comes to keeping up with Britney's success.
Spears gets married.
I convince my graduate school boyfriend to let me keep deodorant at his studio apartment.
A Grammy finally in hand, Spears starts a family with her new husband, Kevin Federline, and they settle down in a beautiful mansion as her first greatest hits album is released.
Across the country, in the throes of graduate school, single and struggling to complete my thesis, I wake up drunk in the back of a friend's car in the parking lot of a strip club. How will I ever catch up with Spears' success?
Finally, the tables begin to turn. Britney's marriage falls apart and she begins to struggle with substance abuse.
While I feel for Spears and what she is going through, I see a window of opportunity to close some of the distance between us. I graduate from graduate school with a useless Fine Arts degree.
Spears' life is unraveling before the world. She shaves her head. She has a disastrous performance at the 2007 MTV Video Music Awards; this was supposed to be a comeback performance, but she looks confused and distracted. Her body is not completely rock hard, as it usually is.
I don't shave my head in a desperate cry for help. I feel bad for Spears and how much attention her failures and issues get, but not quite as much as the Leave Britney Alone guy. When I woke up in a strip club parking lot, no one found out about it except for a stripper who let me use the club's phone.
Spears hits rock bottom when she is involuntarily checked into a psych ward.
I feel even worse. I start rooting for her. I get married to someone more attractive than Kevin Federline, buy a house and adopt an adorable puppy. Here I come, Spears!
Slowly, Spears launches a comeback. By 2014, she has a Las Vegas residency and eight successful albums.
I realize I will probably never catch up with that. I have a couple of kids, so at least we are tied in that respect.
Shortly after releasing her ninth album to positive reviews, Spears gets her roller coaster life turned into a Lifetime biopic, Britney Ever After, which chronicles her ultimately successful career.
I realize that the only way I am going to get a Lifetime movie is if I become a serial killer. You win, Spears.
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