Britney Spears recently told the UK’s Telegraph that her worst career decision of all time was making the UPN self-docu series Chaotic, in which she filmed her own life during the time she was, um, courting future husband Kevin Federline. I remember it being a total disaster back in 2005 when it aired — mainly because this was the first sign we saw that our golden sexpot could be downright vulgar, swearing up a storm, constantly talking to her dancers and staffers about sex, making pig faces at the camera, and even using a much lower speaking voice than we were used to in interviews. I believe my sister said it best when she texted me (via flip-phone, of course): “This is like finding out Santa isn’t real.”

But rewatching some of the footage actually gives me a pang of nostalgia. Even moreso, it makes me wonder what could have been, if Britney had been allowed to let this phase (she was in her early 20s!) run its course and calm down while still keeping her personality intact. It reminds me so much of Miley Cyrus now. I hope Miley gets through with the parts of her that want to rile the establishment while realizing, say, that she needs to stop co-opting black culture to her own purposes. (Sorry, totally different blog post there.) Britney was a little nutty in her Chaotic days, but fun! She was funny and silly and full of personality. If you watch her perfectly nice, but totally void of personality, interview clips now, you’ll miss this girl, too. Of course, it’s entirely possible that the Britney we have now is the only Britney capable of staying sober, in which case, it’s definitely the best option. It’s just too bad her public persona seems to have been metaphorically electro-shocked, if not actually electro-shocked, to save her and/or her career. Just because she had a little more Ke$ha in her than we originally thought doesn’t mean it doesn’t belong there.

Below, the first half of the first ep. I find it strangely compelling.

P.S. I have the Chaotic theme song on my iPhone to this day, and it rules. Totally worth downloading.