Why Are We So Fascinated With Britney Spears?

In anticipation of "Britney Ever After," Lifetime's biopic of Britney Spears, we explore five reasons why the pop princess has been able to survive and thrive in the public eye.
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Britney Spears Young Photo

Britney Spears backstage before her concert on the 'Ooops! I Did It Again' tour in Philadelphia in 2000.

Oops, Lifetime did it again! Known for its love affair with biopics, Lifetime is unleashing Britney Ever After this Saturday, the true story of the highs and lows of pop princess Britney Spears. Whether you think the network's storytelling is brilliantly juicy or a block of cheese, there's no denying that it has a knack for (melo?)drama. And that's what you should expect from Britney Ever After. Starring Australian actress Natasha Bennett in the lead role, the film will explore Brit's devastation over her parents' divorce, her budding relationship and eventual tabloid breakup with Justin Timberlake, her dysfunctional marriage to Kevin Federline, her Sinead O'Connor cry-for-help, and thankfully, her triumphant comeback to the music scene.

In anticipation of Britney Ever After's world premiere, we decided to explore five reasons why the pop princess has captured our attention since she came onto the music scene two decades ago.

1. She not a girl, not yet a woman. With her All-American girl looks, Britney offered what our celebrity-obsessed culture craved: youth and sex appeal. When she catapulted onto the pop music scene in the late 90s with her hit "... Baby One More Time," she packaged herself as sex on a lollipop — with pigtails in tow. But it was only a matter of time that her good girl image would take a bow to her explosive sexuality. . .remember the reaction to her 2003 Rolling Stone cover? Conservative parents weren't especially happy. 

Britney Spears Rolling Stone Cover Photo

Britney on the Rolling Stone cover, 2003. 

2. What Britney lacked in vocals, she made up for in performance. Britney wasn't just any cutesy girl who could follow a dance routine; she owned the stage. Not only did she have the moves, but she also had an instinct for nuance. She learned how to make a statement with the squint of her eyes and the quick jerk of her head. Her music may have been generic, but her body language was not.

Britney Spears Justin Timberlake Photo

Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake pose for photographers at The 29th Annual American Music Awards at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles.

3. Britney and Justin — need we say more? Justin and Brit were the Romeo and Juliet of teen pop stardom. Despite Justin's yellow ramen noodle hair phase and his participation in the transient hit boy band *NSYNC, his talents were as undeniable as Britney's. And so we worshipped them. Everyone knew the young couple were doing adult things under the sheets (no, Britney, we weren't buying your virginal confessionals), but we cooed at their Mickey Mouse Club love. The couple's inevitable break-up was like watching a juicy soap opera unfold, but the twist was that Britney was the alleged cheater (touring sure must make a girl lonely), and Justin got his revenge through his mega hit "Cry Me a River." You couldn't make this stuff up if you wanted to.

4. The Britney dichotomy. While Britney is a force of nature on stage, she is almost uncomfortably shy offstage. Even before her famous public breakdown, Britney has always nervously giggled her way through interviews. Aware of the public's perception that she isn't the most intellectually fine-tuned gal, she keeps the media at a distance by saying very little, hoping that her politeness will prevent her from being ridiculed. We think her strategy is kind of working, actually.

5. Britney the survivor. Despite her numerous growing pains (we'd think having been married to Kevin Federline is already one too many), Britney is the story of a good-girl-gone-bad-gone-good again (because hey, she was always essentially good). Her strength and frailty, as well as her hard work ethic and commercial music appeal, have managed to triumph over her embarrassing public drama and even elicit some pathos. Perhaps for all these reasons, Britney has cemented herself as one of the most famous pop music performers of her generation. Simply put: It's Britney, b*tch.  

"Britney Ever After" premieres on Lifetime on Saturday, February 18 at 8/7C.