The Simple Life 2: Michael Yarish
Nicholas Fonseca
July 21, 2004 AT 04:00 AM EDT

”Simple Life 2”: Paris and Nicole shag

Friends, I have seen Texas. I have driven a powder-blue 1988 Oldsmobile across Texas; I have been shepherded in a rusty, broken-down RV across Texas; and I have spent the better part of a hot, misty May in the southernmost tip of Texas — which also serves as my paternal family’s home base. And friends, I understood what Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie were going through last episode when at the front end of their drive across what I lovingly call the Bad Place, Paris asked, ”Where are we?”

Where, indeed? Well, where else but Texas would you find Dr. J.L. Cash and Family, a well-meaning clan of Jesus-centric folks who live for their guitars, their Bibles, and their family dinners, brimming with indistinguishably mushy casseroles. Last night’s episode began with Paris and Nicole’s arrival at the Cash home, which looked not unlike the lovely spread owned by Cleo McDowell in 1988’s Coming to America. (Seriously, J.L., what’s with the threads, man?) The girls’ uneventful whirlwind visit (which lasted about ten minutes in Fox airtime) can only mean that the house rules — no profanity, no halter tops, no short shorts — so frightened them that they couldn’t stand to stick around for much longer than the requisite evening layover. Even when Nicole rudely pronounced, ”I’m a black folk too — I’ll fit right in,” at the dinner table, it was clear J.L. and his family wanted nothing to do with the sarcastic potty mouth.

I was really looking forward to a full-fledged blowout with J.L.’s daughters, Janice and Yolanda, but the tentative, timid twosome could only muster up the courage to ask Paris and Nicole if they’d ever attended a Bible-study class. (Of course they hadn’t, but I still loved Nicole’s take on religion: ”I think as long as you have spirituality, then it’s all good.” And lo, God replied, ”Ya heard?”) Surely the girls — who’ve never met a shy woman they couldn’t either (a) scare into submission or (b) douse with a quart of, say, bleach — wanted a tussle with Janice and Yolanda, but their desires were thwarted by the lady of the manor, Betty, who shrieked in horror when she saw their filthy Airstream trailer and ordered it cleaned up immediately.

The following morning, J.L. sat the girls down for a pointless lecture about their behavior, rambling nonsensically about their need to cool it with the profanity and how their ”sumpin’ sumpin’ ” would get them farther in life than bad behavior. A futile effort, sure, but you had to admire trusty ol’ J.L., who then gathered the Cash clan on the sidewalk to sing hymns as the girls peeled away and on to their next job assignment. Nicole, God love her (and it appears that he does!), shrieked her version of a simple goodbye: ”Byyye! You guys f—ing rock!” Seriously, does this girl have Tourette’s syndrome?

The next stop was more to the girls’ liking. When they pulled up to the Dell Diamond, in Round Rock, Texas, to spend a hard day of, um, work with a minor-league Houston Astros baseball team called the Express, you just knew it was only a matter of time before the ass pinching and cup grabbing would ensue. Nicole immediately asked their superior, Reid, about the stadium crowd’s usual male-to-female ratio (it’s 60-40, you pervs) and requested that all female fans be sent to a remote corner. Every time they were told that they would have to ”shag” as part of their duties, the girls giggled and the show’s out-of-control sound editor inserted the umpteenth annoying ”doiiiing!” into the action.

Before they could begin the brutal tasks of rubbing ball players’ thighs with muscle cream and running onto the field to grab errant bats and balls during the Express’s game, Paris and Nicole had to prove that they could even understand the sport. (Fat chance!) The players engaged them in one-sided games of catch, and it was at this point that I had a few traumatic flashbacks to those painful nights in the front yard with Dad (a baseball lover and, sadly, an Astros fan): He’d throw the ball, I’d wince and wait for the pain, and he’d yell, ”You can’t be afraid of the ball! You can’t be afraid of the ball!” Paris, displaying the smarts that got her on TV in the first place, simply failed to attempt a catch and cooed ”Oopsie!” each time. Damn, I should have used that trick instead.

The evening’s game, against the New Orleans Zephyrs, was a typical ”Simple Life 2” debacle — Paris and Nicole, who were now serving as batgirls but spent most of the game acting like fools in the dugout, did their best to distract players on both teams. Each time she was called upon to fulfill her batgirl duties, a pigtailed Paris skipped onto the field like a flouncy fawn, putting on a show for the unamused — but catcalling! — spectators. Nicole, meanwhile, was busy cussing into the dugout phone when a player feigned surprise and told her she couldn’t use that sort of language. Um, excuse me, sir, but since when is dirty talk prohibited in a skanky concrete pit that’s usually filled with sunflower seeds, tobacco spit, and crotch grabbing?

After the Zephyrs took the lead, the Express needed a distraction. Paris and Nicole — tiring, as always, of their piddly jobs — ran over to the other dugout on cue to cause a commotion. It’s no secret that baseball has never been female-friendly, and the looks of disgust on the Zephyrs’ faces were evident. By the time Nicole threw an Express jersey on their coach, it was obvious that had the cameras not been trained on their unamused faces, the entire team would have piled atop the girls in one of those infamous ballgame melees — and I’m not talking about any sort of kinky group activity here, people. These girls were not wanted on the field, and their little-seen dogs, Honeychild and Tinkerbell, only fueled the fire when they followed mommies? lead, ran onto the grass, and popped a squat in front of the umpire.

Alas, the girls’ hopes for a home-run hookup were dashed. They were kicked out of the Dell Diamond and sent packing, with more wildly unexciting Texas flatlands residents awaiting the next torturous visit on Paris and Nicole’s Tour of Destruction.

Was this episode a hit or a strikeout?

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