It’s a sad truth, but The Simple Life 2: Road Trip is shaping up to be a formidable guilty pleasure. The episodes are getting funnier, the interactions more normal, and the staginess less prevalent. After last week’s impressive installment, Bunim/Murray seemed to top themselves yet again, although they did stumble in an awkward, if not amusing, segment at the ballpark. Still, it seems like the show has finally found its groove, and amazingly, we have the two gals to thank for it.Bunim/Murray dropped its usual sarcastic style – for about two seconds at least – as Paris and Nicole showed up at the doorstep of the Cash family, a gospel singing, God-fearing Southern black family. Once again, we were treated to the obligatory comments about how this clan was going to whip everyone right into shape, but if there’s anything we know about Bunim/Murray Productions, it’s that they do love their misdirection.
Paris and Nicole actually were pretty well behaved, except for when Nicole dropped a few F-bombs at the table, causing Mama Cash to level her down with an evil eye. The show’s sound editor most likely reveled in getting to use his little violin sound again, probably his favorite contribution next to the occasional “boing” that punctuates most scenes.
Despite moments of vulgarity, Paris and Nicole got along swimmingly with their hosts. They seemed to have pleasant dinner banter, and the girls didn’t even complain when the matriarch demanded that they clean up their trailer. I suppose it didn’t hurt that the two Cash daughters helped with the proceedings, but surprisingly, Paris and Nicole didn’t rest their tired bods while the other girls worked. Why this sudden change in attitude? Did Paris and Nicole actually grow as people? Not really. It just seems as though for once they actually had respect for their host family. So much so that after the cleaning was done, Paris and Nicole went so far as to bond with the daughters by sharing personal stories about friendship and growing up. The next day, Nicole even participated in an impromptu step show, and later, she and Paris demurely let the father preach to them. Whaa? So were these two shiksas finally gaining some emotional depth and perspective?
Don’t know really because Fox suddenly realized the show was veering into quality territory. Our meeting with the Cash family was over before we knew it and with a gentle wash of gospel music the girls went off to their latest shenanigans at a minor league baseball park. There, the girls helped with stretches, played catch, observed physical therapy, and traipsed along in a generally annoying sort of way. Since this segment was the official “work” portion of the evening, we knew some staged sabotage would take place. Tonight wasn’t so bad. After the team trainer was conveniently called out of the training room, Nicole used some taboo XXX massage cream on a player. I don’t think it really hurt him, as evidenced by Fox cutting away to footage of the stadium while all we heard was some clearly pre-recorded yell. If anything, he probably had a happy ending.
Still, despite producer intervention, Nicole managed to make the scene her own as she humorously groaned with the massage and then informed the trainer that she had been a masseuse twenty years ago in Korea. Even I laughed. I guess that’s what happens when you rely on wittiness instead of obnoxiousness. Meanwhile, as Nicole became a regular yukster, Paris spent a good deal of this episode hunched over in laughter. For some reason, I get a kick out of watching her cackle in the background. That girl is a giggler. For all her composed appearances with the papparazzi and media, Paris been more of a goofball than a hornball of late. Granted, who can blame her when the baseball guys kept talking of “shagging”.
At night, the team took to the field with Paris and Nicole serving as bat girls. Paris happily bounded onto the diamond to retrieve any discarded bats, but she applied about as much hustle as if she were browsing through a salad bar. I’m surprised no runner plowed right into her. Then again, maybe that’s what she wanted.
Back in the dugout, the girls grew restless. Nicole tried to pass the time by testing players’ cups. With the two gals in town, these guys probably expected some action in the groin area, but not of the kicking in the balls variety. Luckily for them, Paris and Nicole scurried over to the rival team’s dugout to cause chaos. This sabotage had noble intentions because the girls actually wanted to distract the opponents and cause them to lose. It didn’t really work. I guess that whole athletic focus and concentration got in the way.
Most likely at the producer’s urging, the home team solicited Paris and Nicole to do a little third base coaching. This team must really suck if they have to rely on tweedle dee and tweedle dum to haul in the players. Before the girls could cause any on-base craziness, Nicole’s dog took a dump by the foul line, and I don’t know how everyone else feels, but dog poop always makes me laugh. Fox cut to a shot of the crowd sort of staring blankly and tried to have us think that they were angry by playing “Booo!!!” on the soundtrack. It would have been more convincing if the crowd hadn’t been taking pictures of the starlets and smiling.
Just when you thought this moment couldn’t get any stagier, the umpire – not even attempting to hide his smile – approached the girls, uttered some forced lines, and ejected them from the game. And just like that, this episode which had started off so nicely came to a stultifyingly dumb conclusion. Bunim/Murray doesn’t really know when to leave well enough alone, but here’s to hoping next week continues the show’s upward momentum.