How Close Is 'Loosely Exactly Nicole' To Nicole Byer's Real Life? The Title Says It All
I have suspected it for awhile now, but thanks to Nicole Byer's new scripted TV show — Loosely Exactly Nicole — I am certain that she is supposed to be my best friend. Byer's life is very similar to Loosely Exactly Nicole because the MTV series is pretty much based on her real life. No, it's not just a straight autobiography (what's the fun in that?), it's a semi-autobiographical treat and when it premieres on Monday, Sept. 5 at 10:30 p.m., you're going to want to be Byer's friend too.
What started out as a sitcom about Byer accidentally setting fire to her apartment and then having to move into her sister's house with her sister's kids has turned into the much simpler premise of Byer and her life experiences. While I would not be opposed to getting my hands on that pilot (Byer told The Hollywood Reporter that no one will ever see it, but I can be patient), I'm much more excited to see Byer play a version of herself rather than be forced into sitcom tropes (it would have inevitably happened because it happens to the best of 'em).
After reviewing the pilot, Byer explained to The Hollywood Reporter that the team behind the show changed the direction of the series. "We decided to make it more a situation about Nicole rather than Nicole in a situation," Byer said. And this type of comedy that features a version of a comedian just going about his or her life, à la Louie, has the potential to be much more original and hilarious. (Just don't expect Byer to be doing stand-up on the regular.)
Like many people, I was first introduced to Byer through MTV's Girl Code, but she was doing comedy before then through UCB and even was on an episode of 30 Rock. Despite her talent, Byer has also had some not-so-pleasant experiences in the industry, which will be highlighted in the series and should add another level to the comedy.
As she told USA Today, one particular real-life moment that's showcased on Loosely Exactly Nicole is when she auditioned for a role named "Big Butt Bertha." "That is a spot-on parody of the name of a character that I had to go out and audition for," Byer said. "And the way they wrote this black woman was like, 'Where the (expletive) is my money at?' And it's like, I can't. And that's not to discredit (other black women). There are black women who sound like that, but I'm not one of them." I think that the scene spoofing Big Butt Bertha is in this clip called "Troy the Pimp" that you can check out below.
"Semi-autobiographical" really is the most accurate term to describe the series in relation to Byer's real life since as she told Splitsider in an interview, "The writers would interview me and ask me questions about my life and I would tell them stories and then we would take a nugget from a story and then put some fiction in it. Or we would take a full story and turn it into an episode." And based on her comments to The Hollywood Reporter, the only change from her true life is that some of the character names are different from their real-life counterparts. It's like Loosely Exactly Nicole is channeling the opening line from Dragnet: "Ladies and gentleman, the story you are about to see is true. The names have been changed to protect the innocent."
Obviously, a simple name change isn't going to stop people who have interacted with Byer from knowing they are being portrayed on her series — and she realizes that. "The guy I date on and off throughout the season is literally based on a guy I just ended a relationship with in December," she told The Hollywood Reporter. "His name is so similar to his real name. If he watches it, he'll definitely know that it's him. And there are things he said that I wrote in the show verbatim because it was just so wild."
Yet, whether the people who have inspired some of the moments on the show know it's them or not doesn't really matter to Byer. "All the situations are all from my past and I'm not ashamed of anything I've done," Byer said to The Hollywood Reporter. "I've led a pretty fun, interesting life and I'm happy to share it." For example, that "pretty fun, interesting life" included her being a correspondent backstage at the 2016 VMAs.
Something to consider though is while Loosely Exactly Nicole is an accurate representation of Byer's life experiences, it's not necessarily how she is living at this exact moment. The difference in lifestyle between on-screen Nicole and off-screen Byer are due to the demanding shooting schedule, but also because she has obtained major success as a comedian now. "It was interesting to play a character living a very full life where I was like, 'I'm not doing good,'" Byer said in her Splitsider interview. "I truly go to work. I went to the writers room and maybe I do a show. I didn't do anything. I was just tired. It's a lot of hours."
Byer might be busier working in real life than she is on her show, but seeing any version of Byer's life is good enough for me. So if you've loved Byer's brand of comedy for years, you're going to love Loosely Exactly Nicole since it's like her essence wrapped up in a show. And if you're new to Byer, her TV series will act as the most perfect introduction to this funny lady.