On tonight’s episode, part deux of the scintillating premiere of The Simple Life, the hapless glamour girls learn a lesson about one of the foundational facets of life in the country: work. W-O-R-K, Paris, look it up in a dictionary. A dictionary. You know, the big book with all the words in alpha—oh forget it. Will Nicole and Paris subvert the stereotype of the idle rich, or prove wrong the preconception of them as vacuous vamps that have never worked a day in their lives? Will they finally show the world that they are capable of being more than useless ornaments by actually contributing to society? Hell no! This is FOX, people; do you even have to ask?
Ma & Pa Leding are no strangers to the concept of work, both having been forced to work from an early age. According to Albert (country diction left intact), “I think most people I knows’ always had two’er three jobs. You know, most at the same time, that type a’ thing.” Not so in the 90210. Flashback to an interview in front of an archetypal L.A. pool where a perfectly coiffed, bronzed, and lipglossed Nicole and Paris are forthcoming in regards to their work experience; they readily admit to their lack of it, anyway. “I’ve never had a job, ever,” Paris says (there’s a shocker). “I’ve never had a job,” Nicole accedes, but offers, “I’ve been a figure skater!” When asked how they feel about people who do have jobs, Paris answers lamely, “Um, I feel bad…I don’t know,” which causes even Nicole to snicker at her. As a spoiled rich girl, Paris appears not so much arrogant as purely pig ignorant.
Well, now that they’re in Altus, AR, population 817 (and zip code 72821, according to the narrator), things are going to be a little different. Ma & Pa Leding have gotten the girls jobs at a friend’s dairy farm. “Gosh, I hope they do a good job,” Albert says, literally wringing his hands in nervousness. “Me too,” Janet says, looking at Albert with clouds of doubt shadowing her eyes. It is morning on day two of the girl’s sojourn in the country. An alarm clock rings as the two sleeping beauties snooze away in the same bed wearing satin sleep masks and silky spaghetti-strap negligees (exactly as I, and I’m sure the Leding’s teenage boys, would have imagined). Albert comes into the girls’ room to wake them up, informing them that it’s 5:15. “You should probably be going at 5:30,” he adds sternly.
Nicole & Paris rise from bed looking truly pained at having to wake up so early, simultaneously moaning, “I’m so tired.” Jump cut to an interview in which the two girls, in matching shades of pastel pink and baby blue (Nicole in a “Dude, Where’s My Couture” shirt, which I actually want to buy), declare, “We have nothing. No money, no credit cards. All we have to offer is ourselves.” The way these girls seem to say the same things at the same time, coupled with their preternatural ability to coordinate with each other’s outfits, strikes me as reminiscent of the Shobijin twin fairies in Godzilla Vs. Mothra. Which is to say, it’s already starting to give me a case of the wigguns. The girls head off to the bathroom together to put on makeup, lots and lots of makeup, as the rest of the Ledings, gather in the kitchen for breakfast. “The bacon smells so good,” Paris says, surprising all of America with the fact that she actually eats. “I know, they probably killed it this morning,” Nicole cracks, sending them both into peals of laughter.
What is no laughing matter to the Ledings, however, is the girls’ tardiness. Albert disparages their tendency to be “fashionably late” while Janet feels their reputation is on the line, explaining, “We’re settin’ up these jobs for y’all to do. I go ‘People’s gonna think bad of us for sendin’ y’all so late.’” We see Albert as he knocks on the bathroom door, saying, “Can y’all maybe speed it up a little bit, cuz they’s expecting y’all about six over there.” Paris nods her head with all the yeah-yeah-sure impassiveness of any teenage daughter, then closes the door only to return to the mirror, pick up her sable makeup brush and continue languidly stroking on more and more makeup.
“We’re really excited for our first day of work,” the girls say, “No one thinks we’re gonna be able to do it. But we’re gonna do it.” Shots of the girls putting on designer boots, couture camouflage coveralls, and trying on accessories. Albert gives the clock a panicked look, and at six o’ clock, the girls are just leaving the bathroom. Decked out in their couture cammos, Chanel sunglasses, and bright neon mesh Van Dutch trucker caps, they look like a drag queen’s version of a deer hunter.
“This isn’t even cute having to wake up this early,” Nicole says, as they trod off to the pick-up. We watch Paris yawning at the steering wheel, and Nicole put on her satin sleeping mask as the sun rises, until they at last arrive at Albert’s friend Danny’s dairy farm at 7:00am—that’s right, one full hour late. Danny rides up in a tractor and greets the girls with a pointed, “Running a little late, aren’t we?” As Paris grabs her Louis Vuitton Alma from the pick-up (that’s a $700 handbag in case you’re keeping score, fashionistas), Danny says he’ll take them to the office to get clocked in.
They walk to the office, and after introducing themselves, Paris fans her nose and asks, “Do you get used to the smell?” Danny, nonplussed, answers, “Oh yes. You get used to it. Anyway, we’re running late so we need to get you guys clocked in, so we can go and get the cows up.” The girls fumble with the cards for a while until Danny finally asks, “Have you ever clocked in anywhere before?” “No,” they answer in unison. “Have you ever had a real job?” he asks. “No,” they answer, again in unison. “So you’ve never been on a dairy farm?” he asks. “No,” they chime, as ever, in unison. “You don’t like the odor here,” he presses, to which they again simultaneously answer “No” (Mothra! Mothra!). “Well, it’s not near as bad as that perfume you’ve got on,” Danny remarks, with a completely straight face. Nicole’s mouth drops open for a second, before she laughs in disbelief.
Danny takes the girls out to the field, where there about 125 cows. He gives them cowbells, which the girls hold awkwardly. “What are we supposed to do with them?” Paris asks. “Well, they ring,” Danny tells her. “For what though?” Paris asks. HELLO, LADY! COWBELLS, COWS, WHAT DO YOU THINK? Danny explains that their first job is to get the cows up. “Who knew you could wake up a cow with a bell?” Paris says later on in an interview, as if she just discovered a new law of physics.
As they plod through the grass, Paris tells Nicole she is glad they bought the shoes, and they laugh imagining what it would have been like in heels. “Would you have died? I would have died,” Paris says. After running around and chasing the cows across an expansive field, an exhausted Paris tells Nicole, “I’m gonna die.” I am concerned over Paris’s preoccupation with her own death, as she seems to ponder the demise of her existence every five minutes. It has the odd effect of making me wish she would, in fact, just die.
Danny gets the girls and instructs them to yell at the last of the straggling cows to get them to come out. “Really get harsh with them,” Danny orders the girls. “You want me to yell at them?” Nicole asks. “Yes, harshly,” Danny says, sounding exasperated at having to repeat himself. All of a sudden, Nicole lets out a rip-roaring holler of “MOVE, MOTHER-F*****S, MOVE! MOVE! GET YOUR FAT ASSES DOWN THERE!” which, if it doesn’t get the cows going, is at least effective in getting me to soil myself. “That was probably a little more harshly than I meant,” Danny says, sitting down at the edge of a trough, cap off and head in his hands, looking defeated.
Meanwhile, we get a short montage sequence of Braxton (the 4-year-old) playing with Tinkerbell all day back at the Ledings’: Braxton chasing Tink (dressed in a little printed tee-shirt) around the house, Braxton swinging Tink around in the $1500 Dior Logo dog carrier, Braxtion putting Tink (dressed now in a pink Chanel sweater—my God, this dog has as many costume changes as its owner) on the kitchen table and feeding it a sandwich made of American cheese on Wonderbread—which Tink doesn’t seem to mind, although I’m sure she’s more accustomed to caviar on toast points.
Back at the dairy farm, Paris has snuck into the office to make a phone call to her mother. It hasn’t been 24 hours, and already she’s crying to mommy, and on her employer’s dime, I might add! Outside, Danny asks Nicole if she’s ever driven a “Polish Pick-Up”, and Nicole says no, but gamely asks, “Can I drive it?” “I guarantee you, you can drive it,” Danny says. He then asks if she can drive a stick shift, and she answers, “No, but I can learn,” in very kind, sincere manner. Danny finally busts into the office where Paris has been chatting with her mother all this time and says, “Okay, in fifteen seconds, I’m pulling the plug.” He gets Paris out of the office and authoritatively says, “You’re going to wash the barn while Nickie drives the Polish Pick-Up.” Peevishly, Paris pouts, “So I get to wash the barn while she drives a car.” “No, the Polish Pick-Up,” Danny corrects her, and points outside…to a wheelbarrow. I almost feel sorry for Nicole, because that was a dirty trick, not to mention offensive to Polish people. Danny hurries them up, saying they need to finish before the milk truck arrives, then walks off. Paris and Nicole just stand there, dumbfounded, sipping silently on their colas. “Paris!” Danny yells from off-camera, with the harshness he probably uses on the cows. This finally jolts Paris from her torpor, and Nicole laughs.
“Danny…He hates us,” the girls say, in an interview snippet. Cut back to Danny instructing Paris on how to wash the barn, all seriousness without a hint of humor. “I’ve never worked like this in my life,” Paris admits, over footage of the girls learning to milk cows. “I’m so tired it’s not even funny,” Nicole says. Maybe not for you, but to me and some 13 million viewers, it’s comic gold to see two rich beeyotches get their comeuppance in the form of reaching out to grab swollen udders, hosing down dirty barns, filling a trough with feed, and getting sprayed with cow poop, all while screaming their heads off. “I’m never drinking milk ever again. I’m never eating hamburger either,” Paris declares, though from the looks of her she’s not eating much of anything, so avoiding these two things shouldn’t be that hard. As Nicole’s full wheelbarrow tips over, spilling feed all over, we hear her yell, “I hate this!”
Back at home, the adventures of Braxton and Tinkerbell continue. He takes Tink out to meet the cows, and then over to a swing set and play area for more fun. He plops a terrified-looking Tink onto the top of a slide, and pushes the trembling creature off the top. She slides down in her pink Chanel looking not in the least bit happy, and yips petulantly as she lands, before limping away.
Time to fill the milk bottles. Paris asks Danny if the milk is pasteurized, and he answers no. “Who drinks it, people?” Paris asks. Danny, who appears to be holding back the urge to lock his hands around her neck and strangle her to death, answers tersely, “People” before he takes out the hose and demonstrates the proper bottle-filling procedure. He warns them that each bottle is 75 cents each, and if they break any, the cost will be taken out of their paycheck, “and you won’t be able to go to the tanning bed.” Ouch! This man pulls no punches.
There are 200 bottles, all of which need to be filled by 11:00, when the milk truck arrives. Danny lets the girls know that whatever they don’t fill will need to be compensated later, because the people picking up the milk bottles don’t like to be shorted. With that, Paris sticks the hose in the bottle and bottle-filling begins. It quickly becomes a mess. They start pouring milk from other bottles to top off bottles they didn’t fill completely up, which is clearly a bad idea. They’re spilling milk all over the place, for which Danny roundly chastises them. After some time, he tells them that the driver is coming soon, so they need to start putting the bottles into crates. In their hurry, they end up spilling a massive amount of milk onto the ground. Fearful of Danny’s wrath, Paris instructs Nicole to get water to wash off the floor. Nicole spills some of the water into the bottles, at first by accident, then deliberately starts to water down the bottles that Paris is filling with milk with her water from a nasty bucket. “It’ll be less fattening, I’m doing them a favor,” she reasons. That’s if Danny’s customers don’t end up with a nasty case of E Coli poisoning.
They mess around with the hoses, spraying each other with milk, then come up with a scheme to hide the rest of the unfilled bottles from Danny, so they don’t get in trouble for not filling them. Horror movie music plays as Danny walks up, asking how they’re doing. “We’re almost done,” Nicole says disingenuously, as Paris frantically pours milk from one bottle into several others. Danny sees the mess they’ve made, which Nicole tries to pass off as “a little accident.” Angrily, he points out that they spent all morning getting that milk, and also that they’re “getting dirt in our milk-holes.” I have no idea what that means, but it sounds bad. He also points out that people are going to drink this stuff, which gives me a shiver of fright at the thought of inadvertently chugging down a bottle of milk the girls filled, mixed with bucket water and who knows what else. “You’re kind of a screw-up, you know it?” Danny spits, before storming off in aggravation.
In a later interview, Nicole says, seeming sincerely sorry, that “This was a lot harder than I thought it would be. I’ve done a lot more work today than I have my whole life. I’m gonna cry.” Cut to the girls in a bathroom, taking a break and freshening up. “This is so brutal, I’m gonna die,” Paris says, picking up a lipstick tube. “Did you see the hot tub in the back yard?” Nicole asks. Wait a minute, hot tub? Like this was not a calculated move by FOX. Next thing you know, the girls are strutting out in their bikinis (Nicole’s bottom reading “KEEP YOUR BANANA OFF MY MELONS”), rubbing lotion onto their limbs, displaying their tattoos, body piercings, and total and complete lack of cellulite. I’m surprised to see Paris using a drugstore brand of lotion like Vaseline Intensive Care, as opposed to L’Occitane or Kiehl’s, but perhaps this is part of their roughing it. Danny rides up with a huge hay bale on his tractor and hollers, “Y’all mind if I work while y’all rest?” Coltish limbs splayed across the deck, Paris answers, “We’ve been worker harder than all of you today.” After hearing Paris say that Danny is rude to them and treats them “like animals” we watch as the girls retreat into the house to lie down together on the couch. The animal it appears they most resemble is a lazy housecat.
Danny comes in and breaks the news, “I’ve decided to let y’all go. I think I can really finish up today easier by myself.” He figures out they’ve been there for nine hours, but only did six hours of work, so he gives them $42 each for the day. He hands it in cash to Nicole, who gets up from the couch, and Paris, who doesn’t even bother to rise. They both thank him, and he leaves them by saying, “I don’t know exactly what it is y’all are looking for in life, but I hope you find it.”
Excited to leave, they take off in the truck, but gripe all the way home about what little pay they received for all their work. They discuss minimum wage (Nicole: “Isn’t it $6?”/Paris: “From what I hear it’s like $1”), their hatred of cows, their disbelief at having gotten fired from their first day at work, and their fear of Albert’s reaction to the news. Little do they know he’s already gotten the news (yes, there are phones in the country).
The girls come home and greet Grandma Curly, who asks how their day was, to which they respond, “It sucked” and “Worst day of my life”. Albert meets them in the kitchen and they tell him it was “hell” and “terrible”. They then retreat to the bathroom, the perfect excuse to see them in nothing more than little pink towels. They gripe some more about their first day at work, worrying again over Albert being angry, until Nicole brightens up and says, “They say there’s a barbecue tonight.” “Tonight will be fun,” Paris adds. “Hot guys,” they speculate, “Justin’s friends.”
Cut to the sound of crickets and the Ledings, Nicole, and group of local boys standing around in awkward silence. Body language: crossed arms, hands in pockets, goofy stares. Some guy finally asks how they like it out in the country so far, and Nicole answers that it’s “boring”, but not without a smile and a laugh. The guy says, “You need to have Justin take you for a drive to the mountains.” Justin shuffles his feet, and hunches over reflexively (probably one of the strategies of hiding his “wood”, as Sher speculated).
Where is Paris? Cut to Paris in her favorite place, in front of the bathroom mirror, applying makeup and making pouty model-faces at herself. We also see her in front of a full-length mirror, trying on clothes and walking back and forth as if on a runway to the tasteful musical selection of Right Said Fred’s “I’m Too Sexy”.
Back in the yard, Nicole is telling everyone that she does musical theater, and is recording an album. “We don’t know much about musicals here,” the local guy says. Finally Paris comes out of the house. She appears at the top of the porch steps in an ethereal handkerchief hemmed dress and camel colored hat, like a vision from the pages of Vogue. The men appeared stunned. She descends the steps like a swan…before tripping over the final step, and stumbling onto the yard.
One of the guys inscrutably asks the girls if they’ve ever been to Motel 6, garnering another one of Mama Janet’s disparaging looks. Much shuffling of feet ensues, but then as quickly as Paris came, she takes off, with Nicole in tow. Back in the house, they laze on the sofa and disparage the fact that it’s Saturday night in Los Angeles, and they’re “missing out on so much”. “They’re all getting ready [to go out]…I’m gonna cry, I don’t want to think about it,” Paris laments.
“Did you get cold out there?” Janet asks, coming into the living room holding Tinkerbell, who’s in a little coat and booties. Janet says she dressed Tink because she was shaking (my God even the dog is high-maintenance). In a moment of possible connection, Janet tries to talk to the girls who feel that Justin’s friends think they’re “weird”. Janet reassures them that it’s just because they don’t know what to say, their lifestyles are so different. The girls appear to ruminate over this. In an interview, Janet says with some sympathy that “The girls are really struggling to fit in.”
The girls go out for a walk together. They seem to have warmed up to Janet, but are still fearful of Albert. Paris points out that he was nice about them getting fired from their first day at the dairy barn, but Nicole says that calm people make her nervous, because they might snap someday. She expresses the feeling that he might be the type that would strangle her in her sleep, to which Paris breaks out in incredulous laughter.
Back in the house, the girls are lying down in the living room (Again! They are like conjoined triplets—Nicole, Paris, and sofa). They have a heart to heart with Janet, and confess their fear of Albert, claiming, “He hates us.” Just then, he walks in with cheesecake for everybody. “Stay scared,” Albert says with a slow smile, “But know that I like you.” He then chews his cheesecake in silence. Okay, that was kind of creepy.
In their room and lolling about in bed, the girls deem Albert is “cold” and “way too strict”. “We’re going out, so I really could care less,” Paris states plainly, as Nicole breaks out into mischievous giggles. At 12:46am, in matching skimpy pink satin outfits, they sneak out of the house for a night on the town. The show ends with an ominous shot of Papa Albert looking disapprovingly out the window as the blue pick-up speeds away. 27 Days to go, a caption informs us. That’s a looong way to go.
Questions? Comments? You can contact this big city girl at SnowflakeGirl@fansofrealitytv. com. I’m from L.A., we’re not all like that here, I swear! *totters off to buy Crème De La Mer at Barney’s on Jimmy Choo stilettos*