Over the last week, there has been a steady drip of leaks from Jessica Simpson’s new memoir Open Book—and today a piece of information has surfaced that pretty much rips a hole in the time-space continuum. You are forewarned to grab onto the fabric of this universe: In the book, Simpson alleges that she turned down the lead role of Allie in The Notebook. “I knew exactly what the movie was about because I had read the script but turned it down because they wouldn’t budge on taking out the sex scene,” she reportedly writes.
Clearly, this begs for the harrowing consideration of an alternate, parallel timeline in which Jessica Simpson starred in The Notebook alongside Ryan Gosling.
The film, as we know it in the current universe, is already very bad. It romanticizes abusive behavior on the part of both Noah (who only gets Allie to go out with him after threatening to kill himself unless she agrees to a date) and Allie (who repeatedly pushes and hits him during arguments). That is to say nothing of the inexcusably ridiculous dialogue (“Say I’m a bird,” screams Allie while frolicking on the beach. “Say it!” He mumbles, “You’re a bird,” and they kiss. “Now say you’re a bird, too,” she purrs). On the current timeline, the film has only three qualities that in isolation offer any kind of redemption or enjoyment: Gosling’s beauty, his chemistry with Rachel McAdams, who plays Allie, and The Sex Scene.
On the alt timeline, though, all but one of those qualities are gone. The Notebook isn’t just a terrible film, but an irredeemably terrible film. There is no sex scene, no racing through the rain, and we don’t see a shirtless The Gos stumbling up the stairs with his pants around his ankles, because Simpson has successfully advocated for it to be removed (as is her right and the deep loss of our alternate timeline selves). Yes, the movie still has Ryan Gosling’s pretty, pretty face as Noah, but none of the chemistry with McAdams—and that chemistry might have been its sole saving grace absent The Sex Scene. Of course, in this alt-universe, The Gos and McAdams also never fell in love after wrapping the film and didn’t go on to date for a few years. It means they never ICONICALLY ACCEPTED the Best Kiss trophy at the MTV Movie Awards.
More significantly to me: If The Notebook’s sex scene didn’t exist, I might never have found myself one day circa 2009 standing outside of a stage door after Gosling’s indie ban played a local show and asked to take a photo with him like a creepy dork of a groupie. (He hugged me, y’all.) I, therefore, wouldn’t have developed enough of a reputation as a Gosling fan for a friend to buy me a copy of the novelty photo book Feminist Ryan Gosling. Which means I wouldn’t have it on my bookshelf for my toddler to one day demand as a bedtime story, which means my sweet, dear child never would have stumbled upon a photo of Gosling slightly grimacing and declared, “Ryan Gosling has poop! Ryan Gosling has poop!”
On this alt timeline, my toddler’s understanding of bodily functions lacks any star power, The Notebook is a film that went straight to video, and Ryan Gosling is just some former Mouseketeer.