After six months with nary a sex scandal in the news, Paris Hilton made her way back to Fox with portly sidekick Nicole Ritchie cackling by her side in The Simple Life 2: Road Trip. Unlike the first season which saw the two girls tramping it up at a little farm in Arkansas for a month, this installment takes its act on the road with a pink pickup and a behemoth trailer set to terrorize every bucolic community along the Gulf coast. Normally I would feel bad for all these random hicks who are routinely mocked by our carrot and squash duo, but I kind of get the feeling that this time around, the joke’s on the gals. After all, we’ve now witnessed the glorious sights of Nicole having to don a spectacularly dumbass turtle costume and Paris being trampled – literally – by a horse, leaving her with a new brand of lipstick – manure.By the end of last season, I was ready to sign off on this whole abominable franchise. I had watched – as I imagine many had – due to the curiousity factor. Coming at the tail-end of the celebrity-reality craze, this show promised to be an amusing fish out of water roasting of the Hilton-Ritchie axis, but instead, it felt mean and stagey. These girls didn’t want to truly learn about the simple life, nor did they want to challenge their comfort zones. They just wanted to have fun at everyone’s expense. Paris and Nicole managed to embarrass everyone in the process, including themselves. The rich looked dumb for producing such obnoxious spawn. The poor looked dumb for putting up with it. And the viewers looked dumb for actually watching this.
Aside from the harridan stars of the show, one of the major undermining factors of the entire season was that every interaction, situation, and conflict felt pre-fabricated. We thought we’d be in for a fly-on-the-wall experience, but instead we got a big Potemkin village of a fakeout. At least this time around, the show’s pretensions have lowered from Osbournes to Road Rules standards. With the girls going from job to job, The Simple Life makes no qualms about being a structured and pre-planned adventure-type show anymore, which makes it, dare I say, slightly more palatable. And when I say “more palatable”, I mean I only want to gouge my eyes out with a fork, not a shotgun.
But I’m being way to academic for this show. Let’s get down to what we really care about, sort of, not really: Paris and Nicole. Continuing to bring shame to their families, the rich girls provided us with a few semi-entertaining moments in the premiere. We first reconnected with banana and pear in South Beach, Miami with the two prancing around on a shopping spree. They babbled about being ready for the road trip, but I wasn’t really listening because I was too distracted by Paris’s oversized George Burns sunglasses. I’d like to think that she was trying to assimilate with Miami’s blue-haired cataract surgery crowd, but sadly, these sunglasses are actually becoming the rage in Los Angeles.
Fox “suprised” our gal pals with the old “here’s your limo, oh wait, we mean RV!” trick and then sent them packing to a rodeo in southern Florida. I did have a certain schadenfreude in watching Paris navigate the cumbersome trailer down the interstate, and I tipped my hat to the producers for sending the girls to a toll booth with no money. Nicole Ritchie was fairly entrepreneurial in raising a dollar for the latter situation by flaunting her ottoman-esque figure around the toll plaza.
The girls eventually made their way to a little rodeo where they learned the definition of “britches”, and then a horse finally fulfilled the dreams of so many Americans by tossing Paris Hilton to the ground, trampling her, and forcing her face into a pile of shit. After an airlifted trip to the hospital resulted in nothing but a pouty exchange with the media, Paris and Nicole visited some chimps at an ice cream shack (listen, this is Florida. I don’t get it either) and went off to their next endeavor.
The second episode of the premiere featured Paris and Nicole training to be in a rinky-dink water show. While Paris donned a flattering mermaid getup, Nicole was stuck in a silly turtle outfit that seemed to say “Yes, Nicole, you are uglier than your friend”. In the middle of this, some terrible parent asked the girls to babysit her daughter. This of course resulted in the six year old getting a glam-rock makeover which proved you can never be too young to start whoring it up like Paris and Nicole. And as Paris naively heated up some soup in a metal pot – IN THE MICROWAVE – I began to wonder who really needed the babysitter.
By the end of the episode, Paris and Nicole had been cut from the water show spectacular, but they joined their new mermaid friends for a raucous night out at Coyote Ugly of Tampa (former employer of fellow Bunim/Murray star Robin of Real World San Diego). Paris and Nicole demonstrated a considerable skill for dancing on the bartop and letting guys peep up their skirts. Ah yes. Sometimes the Simple Life has its simple pleasures.