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Hotel Heiress Paris Hilton, and notorious party girl Nicole Richie drop their money and pick up some working gear in this one of a kind reality series. The girls are asked to give up their money, credit cards, and cell phones to live what they call "The Simple Life." However, they later discover that things are not so simple once they arrive at a farm in Arkansas for the first season of the show. In the second installment to the show the girls travel from Florida to Beverly Hills and along the way they take numerous jobs in exchange for money. The third season of the show brings the girls to a bus where they travel in upper Manhattan and take on jobs as interns. Wives of America were quite alarmed when they heard that for the fourth season that the girls would be taken on the task of house wives/moms. It was also known by now that Paris and Nicole hated each other and were no longer friends. In the final and fifth season, Paris and Nicole made up and were also Camp Councilors for the ... Written by
Coming so close on the heels of MTV's 'Rich Girls' it's in danger of being confused for the Hilfiger buddy comedy, 'The Simple Life' proposes the novel idea that we take rich young born-into-money socialite buddies Paris Hilton and Nichole Richie, throw them on a farm in a Midwest, country setting and watch the culture shock hilarity ensue. Unlike 'The Apprentice' in which everybody knows who Donald Trump is, Fox was faced with a nagging problem to their novelty - nobody knows, or cares, who Paris Hilton is. A problem made just as easily into a solution by the nick-of-time, what-a-coincidence release of the best Hollywood publicity grabbing machine of them all: the all-important sex tape. The change seemed to come in almost the dead of night, but one day we woke up and everybody was supposed to care who Paris Hilton was and what idiot thing had she said next. Entertainment Tonight was beating down the girls' doors. Paris Hilton is, of course, heir to the Hilton Hotel family fortune and Nicole Richie is, of course, Lionel Richie's adopted daughter.
That is exactly what 'The Simple Life' is all about. Despite producers from 'The Real World' and various other MTV drones, this show is born more out of the celebrity tabloid culture of hype and E! network star-worship than it is out of the reality genera. It is a novelty series but as much as it claims to be poking a little fun at the girls, at the same time it is feeding the beast - making household names and 15-second celebrities out of Hilton and Richie.
The girls are taken in by the Leding family (credited as a group on the intro), much to the chagrin of the mother and eternal, admirable patience by the father. It's hard to get a handle on it. We're supposed to laugh at the ineptness of the girls to do real work and yet, at the same time they are put to choirs, such as castrating a bull, that most people wouldn't still wouldn't touch with a 10-foot pole. The show promotes itself as another Look-at-the-Freaks rubberneck series but that's a hard pill to swallow (no pun intended) when the show is taking the views of Hilton and Richie as the protagonists as they gawk at Midwestern country life with condescension and disbelief. Those that want to see nepotism get it's comeuppance will be horribly disappointed. In the end, the concept appears to be mute as nobody learns anything and Hilton and Richie gratefully go back to their lives. 'Simple' manages to be as loud and obnoxious with it's depiction of middle America as Fox's 'King of the Hill' is rich and nuanced. Who's kidding who here?
Then there is the show's biggest lumbering dinosaur of a problem: Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie. The two are the most unlikable leads you could possibly imagine. If David Caruso and Jim Belushi where thrown on a farm together it wouldn't be as cringe-inducing. And I don't need my TV leads likable. Anti-heroes almost always make for more complex and interesting characters. But anti-heroes have personalities of their own
something Hilton and Richie sadly lack. They are like pop culture
sponges who have soaked up what the MTV culture has told them is cool and now spit their vapid, shameless personas back at us. Hilton, in particular, wears all the brand names she should, is rail thin and has long blonde hair. Not to be mean, but the girl puts herself together like an alien who had a general idea of what an attractive women looks like but horribly mangled the project in the details. She sure as hell thinks she's something though. Richie doesn't come off as the disgusting pig Hilton does. Not walking around with jeans riding so low the show has to blur out the resulting a** crack makes her look like the classiest of the two. But she's just as spoiled and lifeless. Her idea of being cool is to constantly say that everything and everyone is sexy.
So saddle up the tumbleweeds, race on down to the swimming hole, wrap the tin foil around the rabbit years and check out Fox's view of middle America.
Any serious discussion on the show's concept (will rich girls be able to survive in the country?) gets wadded up and thrown in the trash because Fox took the simplest approach to this show. It has the opportunity to play with a demographic (2 actually) rarely seen on TV and be giddy, bubble gum fun in the process. Instead it is dully handed to us sounding like a cartoon and riddled with stereotypes. It would seem by sheer happenstance everyone around them is living a country boy cliché and the show makes it look as 'Green Acres' as possible. It all wraps up with over-the-top twangy narration by David Richards.
'Simple' is also another reality show where the editing team behind the camera shamelessly jockeys with their celebrity leads for the limelight. The show is constantly calling attention to itself with the goofy sounds of springs and slide whistles. This is the tacky, crude, devoid of imagination novelty that the Fox network has re-invented itself to be known for. Way to go, Gail.
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