The Simple Life 2: Michael Yarish/FOX
July 03, 2004 at 04:00 AM EDT

”Simple Life”: Paris and Nicole wreak havoc in Mississippi

”The Simple Life 2: Road Trip” is still the same vapid exercise we’ve been gobbling up shamelessly since spoiled rich girls Paris and Nicole first plopped themselves into our living rooms last fall — but there was something strangely fascinating about last night’s episode. Let’s visit its setting, for starters: Mississippi, a state that’s always at, like, No. 49 or 50 on those lists concerning things like Per Capita Income and Number of Vegans Per Square Mile. Really, when you consider that it’s perhaps best known for its funky spelling, it’s a wonder that Paris and Nicole — who never met a Deep South state they didn’t despise — even knew how to get there.

Consider, now, their latest in a rotating list of hosts: the Skinner family. I direct you to their last name. I point you toward the array of mounted animal heads adorning their living room walls. I nod toward their oafish, abrasive sons, James and Jarod. I alert you to Grandma’s dentures, and I remind you that the hairdo on matriarch Patty’s squat head is coiffed in a style last seen somewhere in the JCPenney shoe department circa 1992. This, friends, is what happens when celebrity ambition — in this case, a desire to be on TV — seeps its way into one of America’s seminal red states and infests an entire clan of middle-class rubes. Now plop Paris and Nicole right in the middle. It ain’t pretty!

Daddy Skinner, a.k.a. Jimmy, didn’t so much as put the girls to ”work” on their first day at the spread as he did pawn off the responsibility to his obnoxious, obviously horny son James, who instructed the girls to break down the family’s Doughboy above-ground pool with sledgehammers and not a bit of sass. The girls, naturally, hated the task before they’d even flexed a muscle, and James — in a fit of braggadocio — soon berated them for doing everything all wrong. Well, duh, James! Of course they were doing everything all wrong. They don’t have hand-eye coordination! Doughboys aren’t hot! You’re not cute and you’re not taking off your shirt! Why would they cooperate?!

Things didn’t get any better when James decided to refer to the girls as Dumb and Dumber…right in their presence. Really, doesn’t everyone who owns a TV set know better than to mess with Nicole? Not surprisingly, she let James have it in an expletive-filled tirade that ended with her promise of sweet revenge.

In a plot development that still mystifies me despite the fact that I’ve come to expect pretty much anything from ”Simple Life,” the girls soon enlisted an entire army of firemen to help Nicole with her plot. They came barreling out of nowhere and were soon parked on the Skinner spread, ostensibly to help Paris and Nicole with their task but seemingly more interested in taking pictures with the girls. By this point, the girls had, of course, changed into proper outfits (bikini tops! miniskirts!). Somewhere in the backwoods of Mississippi, there’s a local fire department that’s gonna make a boatload of money come the holiday season with a nice, fleshy 2005 calendar. All proceeds, I’m sure, will go toward the new uniform drive.

Nicole spent so much time flirting with the firemen that she wasn’t prepared for the next step in James’ never-ending assault: a big shot from a fire extinguisher, right on her Mistic Tanned back. The incident so upset Ms. Richie (whose hair was a nice trio of blond, red, and fire-retardant white) that she refused to join the Skinners for their carnivorous dinner; instead, she and Paris took off for the nearest…city to go dancing at the Beau Rivage nightclub. Of course, that’s all they were doing. Because, you know, we wouldn’t want them driving drunk or anything. And Paris and Nicole just KNOW better than to, like, break the law. Even so, those Shirley Temples they downed must have been filled with extra grenadine — did you see them dancing on the banquettes?

Apparently, the girls had enough money to take on the nightlife but not enough to get away from the Skinners — they soon found themselves at Rene’s Quality Meats & Cajun Specialties, where they would perform the tasty task of making sausage links to earn money. I’m not sure I want to go into detail here, what with the liver and guts and assorted sundry of body parts flying around Rene’s kitchen, but let’s just say that when the girls received their training, they were paying about as much attention as they always do when authority figures are speaking. Their task involved lots of heavy machinery and no shortage of foreign culinary ingredients; by the time Rene set them loose to begin filling the casings, poor Paris’ belly button ring was getting caught in the machinery. And in no time at all, they’d spattered his entire shop with gooey sausage clumps.

Rene, like all adults who enter the alternate reality of ”The Simple Life 2,” didn’t fire the girls; instead, he ordered them to sell (what I’m hoping was) a separate batch of sausages so they could make enough money to get the hell out of Dodge before nightfall. Since the girls know how to get attention by simply standing on the street — where the paparazzi usually hang — they took to soliciting passing motorists, all of whom seemed mystified. Of course, the drivers cooperated, buying every single sausage and earning the girls a mean $120. One can only presume that these folks were less intrigued by the prospect of a good sausage link and more taken by the scantily clad Cosmo girls flinging them around suggestively in the middle of the road on a spring afternoon.

Nicole still needed to prove to James that her life’s motto (Don’t F— With Me) is not to be taken lightly, so before leaving, she and Paris joined the Skinners for a sullen, loveless goodbye that included their parting gifts: freshly made sausages from Rene’s! The catch, of course, was that James would receive a special olive branch of a link, one that was presumably made out of peace, love, and understanding. But no, the girls filled it with dog food. Now, whether or not this sausage was actually brimming with Fido’s dinner is really a moot point; one only need ask if Rene would really allow his good name to be sullied on national TV like this. On second thought, since he allowed Paris and Nicole work in his shop in the first place, he probably would.

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