The Simple Life: Michael Yarish/FOX
Josh Wolk
December 02, 2003 AT 05:00 AM EST

Are Paris and Nicole rich ditzes in the 1st ep?

Is ”The Simple Life” actually a public-service announcement commissioned by some sort of anti-lottery PAC? A ”This is your brain. This is your brain on wealth” kind of thing, showing the intelligence-atrophying dangers of having too much money?

Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie are 24-karat nincompoops. These two debutantes, with their complete indifference to everything that doesn’t come wrapped in gold foil, and utter confusion at the concept of exerting effort, are Exhibit A in the argument for a class war. But I suppose that’s the benefit of this show — it makes you feel better about your own status in life: Sure, you may not have billions of dollars, but you’re also not a bonehead.

It makes everything about being fabulous look ridiculous: Remember all those times you women thought, ”I could never wear the low-rise jeans that those models do”? Well, turns out that models can’t wear them either: when Paris had to trot around her truck with the groceries, her jeans sank so far down that they had to pixilate her butt crack. It was delightfully grounding, like seeing a princess with bird poop in her tiara.

When this show was first announced, there was an outcry in the South, saying that the ”Simple Life” premise was promoting the ”hick” stereotype. Frankly, the hicks — in the form of the girls’ friendly hosts, the Leding family — come off a lot better than the wealthy. It’s the Fortune 500 who should have protested.

After one episode, I have yet to discern a personality in either of these bead-and-bauble-heads, except that they both like to giggle. Nicole may show signs of being the bigger ninny, but that is only because Paris doesn’t show much of any personality at all, with her face frozen into a runway pout. You could swing a two-by-four at the back of her head, and the impact wouldn’t cause her to change her expression one bit… although Cristal might start leaking out her ears.

During the premiere, our little princesses learned many things: what a Wal-Mart is, what a well is for, and how to grocery shop. Of course, they likely forgot all these things immediately, as they were topics wholly uninteresting to them. Whereas in the ”Real World,” the staple snotty kid will eventually come to the epiphany that he or she is spoiled and must learn to take care of him/herself, in ”The Simple Life” (which, ironically, is made by ”Real World” creators Jon Murray and Mary-Ellis Bunim) the point is that our two heroines must never change. If they ever decided that doing their chores without complaint was the right thing to do, the show’s raison d’etre would evaporate. So keep squealing when you shove your arm up that cow’s heiny, girls!

Of course, there really is no way these two could ever acclimate to the upper-middle-class life, let alone farm life. When flying in a private jet to Altus, Ark., Nicole said, ”Wouldn’t it be nice if they wanted to surprise us and flew us to Paris?” At first I snorted, ”You idiot!” But then I realized that they live in a world where an unexpected swerve to France is as realistic a surprise as me accidentally getting two packets of M&Ms out of a snack machine when I only paid for one. (I did find it interesting, however, that with all their money, the only celebrity they could get to come to their farewell party was ”NYPD Blue” supporting actor Esai Morales. So we’ve learned that money can’t buy two things: happiness, and an RSVP by Mark-Paul Gosselaar.)

Though Fox is trying not to overtly promote the show by mentioning Paris’ sex video, I have to say that Paris’ taped romp does add an extra layer of enjoyment to watching the show. I invented a fun twist for added pleasure: Have you ever played that game at a Chinese restaurant where everybody reads their fortune out loud, but adds the words ”in bed” to the end? I’ve found that you can have a similarly bawdy good time doing the same thing to everything Paris Hilton says. For example, when they leave for the farm: ”We’re doing it to prove we can do anything… in bed!” Or on the shopping trip: ”Pig’s feet is worse… in bed.” Even when she’s asked to pluck chickens: ”I won’t do it. I’ll throw up… in bed!” See? Perversely, it all seems to make even more sense. Now if only they had shot the show in night vision, then we’d really have something… in bed.

What do you think of the show?

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