The Simple Life 2: Michael Yarish/FOX
Nicholas Fonseca
July 06, 2004 AT 04:00 AM EDT

‘Simple Life’: Paris and Nicole kiss a lot of frogs

There are weeks when I watch Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie wreak havoc on the lives of publicity-hungry Southerners and actually feel a bit of a kinship with them. After all, who among us hasn’t relived moments from their youngest, brattiest days as they watch the girls flagrantly flout the rules of their host families, charm exasperated sales clerks and hotel maids, and cruise the locals out of sheer desperation?

This was not one of those weeks. It’s week four of this second go-round of ”The Simple Life,” and I gotta say, their petulant brat act is really starting to wear thin. This stems, in part, from the fact that their experience with last week’s Skinner family — anybody forced to look at Grandma Skinner’s dentures and James’ obnoxious Doughboy destruction manners was gonna elicit automatic pity from yours truly. And, really, could this week’s adorable hosts, the Mequots, have been any cuter? I mean, I could barely understand a word she was saying in the first place — silly Cajun woman! — but Mama Laurette’s perky bob of a ‘do and overprotective vibe with her budding 13-year-old daughter, Jenny, was unmistakably heartwarming. Jenny was readying for her first date, and you could see the streak of terror in Laurette’s eyes when she saw the impressionable girl’s latest role models. In one of the show’s more heartbreaking moments, Laurette smiled tightly and said Jenny was excited because she likes ”makeup and fancy clothing.” Goodness, I hope there’s not a ”Thirteen” scenario brewing here!

Laurette, who appears to work as a park ranger (but may just be dressing in some sort of official Swamp Country uniform, for all I know), unwisely handed over the plastic so that Jenny and the girls could start the search for hooched-up date gear. They ended up at a lonely department store called Stage, which looked a lot like the Mervyn’s where I spent too many extra-bored hours in my youth. There, the trio plowed through racks of clothing and created their own ”Pretty Woman”-style fashion show, eventually devolving into total parodies of themselves with a runway show right outside the dressing rooms. At one point, Paris wore what I felt was a sexy-yet-tasteful, black-and-white checked dress that could easily have passed for a Marc Jacobs original, and I kept waiting for her to stuff it in her purse after some sort of bumbling fight with an ink-filled security tag.

No fight, though — just another inexcusably high credit card charge of nearly $490 — ON A LAURETTE-DICTATED BUDGET OF $75, PEOPLE! Paris and Nicole, who really love spending anybody’s money but their own, shrugged off their ridiculous adventure and sent Jenny straight into the soft-core center of Laurette’s wrath. Barely raising her voice, Laurette informed Jenny that she’d have to return nearly all of the clothes; after further deliberation, Mitch agreed to let her keep the ”makeup kit,” a sad, multipiece gift set of nail polishes and lipsticks that looked like it was manufactured over at a Bonne Bell factory roughly 14 years ago.

And just when the show got semi-interesting, the girls had to go to work! This time it was something about catching crawfish in the local swamps, but I started to tune out the task because, let’s face it, it was only being presented for formality. I’ve stopped believing that Paris and Nicole do anything more than the requisite five minutes of squirming and squealing in the presence of animal carcasses and minimum-wage workers before the producers feed them with explicit directions on how to foul it all up. ”Fisherman, Trapper, Musician” Bradley Richard informed them to join his son Boo Boo to catch ”hunnerds of pounds of crawfish!” (he didn’t say actually say that on screen; just assume it hit the editing floor) so they could earn money to get out of Britney Spearsland. They were instructed to throw two or three pieces of sun-soaked fish guts into nets that would be thrown into the mucky water to attract crawfish; according to Bradley, they could easily spread up to 65 nets out into the water. But since the gene that causes somebody to have patience skipped over both Paris and Nicole, only 25 nets — filled to the brim with guts — were haphazardly slipped into the swamp, all under the watchful (and seemingly stoned) eye of Boo Boo, who warned them that their efforts would be for naught come the next morning.

That evening, Paris attended a local fish boil where a neighborhood Jimmy Buffett sang a tune about ”crawfish and gumbo.” Quickly realizing that she could avoid Bradley and Boo Boo’s dismay if she just stole a bunch of ready-to-eat crawfish, Paris repeatedly asked for heaping plates, blaming her starving tummy. Yeah, like anybody would believe that rail-thin Paris Hilton gets those abs by attending all-you-can-eat fish feasts! She got away with it, though — exiting the party with what appeared to be an entire Hermes bag of cooked (and, one assumes, stinky) crawfish.

Paris told Nicole about her brilliant plan the following morning, though I also have a hard time believing that two large, open containers of cooked fish would not stink up that Airstream until Nicole barfed in her sleep. (Oh, shoot, I’m being too literal again.) Speeding along in a boat with their limo driver Boo Boo, Paris and Nicole quickly devised a plan to incorporate the already cooked crawfish and their meager winnings in the swamp: Nicole would work her charm on Boo Boo while Paris oh-so-slyly dumped the little boogers into the nets. It all went off without a hitch, of course, and the girls were duly rewarded with $78 from a local dealer who noticed — oh, timing! — that they’d stiffed him just as they drove away.

Their continual refusal to actually do any work would probably be more entertaining if once — just once! — we saw one of them pay a price for acting like goobers, and I don’t count Paris’ first-episode fall because I refuse to believe that riding a horse constitutes work. (Save the hate mail; I’m just not a fan, okay?)

The girls’ uneventful stay at the Mequots ended with Jenny’s date. Because Laurette and Mitch told Jenny that her attire couldn’t include high heels, short skirts, perfume, or too much makeup before they left her in the girls’ care, Nicole immediately chirped ”Let’s get slutty!” as soon as they walked out the door. And slut it out they did — putting the modestly cute girl into a heinous pink/black ensemble with, yup, heels and eye makeup that looked like a Kohl job gone berserk. After sufficiently spooking Jenny’s speechless date (”You’re a player,” sighed Paris) into submission, they watched as the two lovebirds sat quietly on the living room couch.

Here is the point of the show when I realized why Britney Spears has become such a phenomenally awesome mess in her Federline phase: If any of this sad, sorry excuse for a date resembled her younger days in Louisiana, well, it’s no wonder she’s smoking Marlboro Lights on the Hawaii beach with that boy! Paris and Nicole realized that the date was imploding before their eyes, so they suggested a ”frogging” trip in the swamp. I thought only crazy people with a death wish went riding the swamps after dark, and I was proven correct when the girls did just that, merrily playing along as giant frogs leaped into their boat. I’m saddened that Jenny and Matt’s first date couldn’t have happened at a more typically small-town destination — is it too much to ask if they couldn’t have just gone for deep dish at Pizza Hut? Or a quick twirl around the skating rink with Usher and P.O.D. playing in the background? And while I’m asking questions, isn’t it just so wrong that Paris Hilton doesn’t mind kissing frogs on national television, while I, who watch at home, couldn’t lift my legs off the floor in terror fast enough the minute one of those freaky animals hopped across my TV screen?

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