Most people don’t usually equate young, blonde, beautiful heiresses with dying, although haven’t we all had moments watching this series during which we prayed for the sweet relief of death to release us from the pain of this canned mess of so-called “Reality TV”? No? Okay, just me then (hey, it’s mere a half hour for you folks, but pity the poor recapper who must relive the experience all over again). Actually, this week’s episode, which takes our errant heiresses to a funeral home, is surprisingly entertaining, if a smidge farfetched. Besides, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger—so read on if you think you have the stuff to survive.
On the way to their next destination (New Jersey), our girls and their fellow paid actors—passengers, I mean!—are reminded that the first rule of Greyhound Bus is no one talks about Greyhound Bus. Ah, those fantasies about watching Paris and Nicole sweatily slug it out in some dank, dark basement à la Fight Club—they dissipate as we learn the real first rule of Greyhound Bus is there is no smoking on Greyhound Bus.
Why, what a perfect segue to the Hirrel household, a home where this rule doesn’t mean diddlysquat. Mom’s smoking, Dad’s smoking, hell I wouldn’t be surprised to see the damn dog smoking too, from the looks of the ashtrays and cigarette butts littering seemingly every corner of their home. One of our earliest images of Mom (Lynn) is her bending over the gas stove to light her cancer stick—Klass Act. Mom cackles with a rasp that makes her sound like the love child of Bea Arthur and Tom Waits, and frequently coughs with a nasty-sounding rattle in her chest that really makes me fear for her health.
Dad (Mickey) is even worse, he is seen puffing, and puffing, and puffing away—like a chimney, or a locomotive, or…whatever else smokes. There is a montage of the Hirrels smoking to their heart’s content (but lungs’ discontent) that lasts, I swear, like fully forty five minutes. Anyway, you get the point: these people are hardcore smokers. I’m talkin’ ciggy-dangling-out-the-side-of-the-mouth-while-eating hardcore. I sayin’ my-clothes-are-stinking-just-from-watching-this-episode hardcore. I mean their-lungs-must-be-pitch-black hardcore.
Mom and her lovely kids [damn you FOX again for your lack of captionage] pick up the girls from the bus stop, and welcome them into their home. They immediately notice the smoking (how could you not?), and Nicole asks, “Do you love the cigs, dear?” Dad reveals has been smoking since he was 14 and is now 46—longer than Paris, Nicole, or I been alive! “Does it bother you?” he asks them, “Because you will have to get over it.” You have to love a guy that can hold his own against the heiresses.
The girls get to know the family, how Mom & Dad met, where they hail from (Upstate New York and Brooklyn—but hey I coulda tole youse guys from the accents), etc. Dad reveals that both his father and mother had lung cancer, and the girls appear to really sympathize with plucky Pa Hirrel. He admits that he needs to give up the smoking, and the girls pledge to do all they can to help him and his wife quit in the next two days.
Paris & Nicole disappear, only to return bearing gifts. Apparently they did what their best at: shopping! But not for themselves. They went and got packages of nicotine gum and patches for Mom & Dad Hirrel, who are immediately concerned with the cost. Paris & Nicole assure them not to worry, “We bought them.” Nicole says, “There’s no price on life.” I feel a “More You Know” star shooting over my head. Still, it’s always touching to see the girls really take a shine to a family. Ah yes, they’ve taken such a shine that they took the liberty of buying a conspicuously censored item to “help take your minds off of [smoking].” It’s obviously some kind of sex toy or adult accoutrement—judging from the “boing” Benny Hill sound effects and Dad’s “That’s a whole lotta mama!” remark. But what is it? A dildo? A mechanical penis pump? A vibrator shaped like Ben Franklin? What? We’ll never know, thanks to the fascist censors at FOX. Anyway, Mom & Dad are ever so grateful, and the girls go to sleep with a heartwarming “Love ya, Bitch,” happy in the knowledge that they did their good deed for the day.
Six Feet Under
Morning at the Hirrels, and the girls make sure Mom & Dad have their patches on; Nicole makes Mom pinky-swear (aieeee flashbacks to Charla) that by the time they come back from work, she will have not had a single cigarette. On that note, the girls take off for their new internship. They arrive with a chorus of “ews” and “sicks” at Kohler Funeral Home in Woodbridge, N.J.; though Paris must first ask, “What’s a funeral home?” We’re not falling for that WalMart trick again, Paris. As they walk up to meet John Pedesta, the funeral home director and their new supervisor, Nicole professes to be so “scared of dead people” that she can’t even watch Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video. It’s a silly thing to declare, but I suppose that’s better than the opposite; imagine if Nicole turned out to be a necrophiliac, spanking corpses’ booties, and telling them they’re “sexy.” *shudder*
Paris & Nicole are invited to sit in on a service in-progress, which I’m sure is REAL and GENUINE (and not filled with the same actors as on the Greyhound Bus in different clothing, pretending to be sad). Then the girls are asked to move the coffin, which I’m sure is REAL and ACTUALLY FILLED WITH A DEAD BODY (and not filled with, say, foamcore or a light manikin that our precious princesses can lightly carry without fear of putting out their backs), into the hearse for transporting to the cemetery. The girls, though creeped out, do their best to carry out the corpse, although with their usual savoire faire, end up fumbling and bumping it against walls (hey, it’s hard to turn a corner with a coffin) despite the funeral home employees’ warnings not to scratch the casket, which I’m sure is REALLY GOING TO BE BURIED IN THE GROUND WITH AN ACTUAL BODY (and not carefully cleaned off and resold to the next suckah who walks into Kohler funeral home).
John, who will meet them at the cemetery, tells them before leaving, “There’s a body in the car, so drive nicely.” Oh yeah, well of course they won’t. Paris has a craving for hot chocolate, so Nicole drives the corpsemobile up to the 7 Eleven to grab a nice hot cuppa hot choco with marshmallows and peruse the baked goods. Why this is so funny, I couldn’t tell you, but I was dying (no pun intended) by the time John rushes into the convenience store, panic-stricken, yelling, “What are you doing? We’ve got a body in the car, we’ve gotta go!” They leave, but not before Paris picks up the latest issue of Stuff magazine, which by an AMAZING COINCIDENCE has her sister on the cover (and was not planted by Dennis Publishing in association with FOX Entertainment Group in any kind of cross-promotional blitzkrieg).
Back in the hearse, they turn on the stereo and BY ANOTHER AMAZING COINCIDENCE just so happen to find a song her dad wrote, “Brickhouse,” playing on the radio. “That’s my Dad’s song!” Nicole declares proudly as they bop and bump in the front seat with a body in the back. Aw yeah, if the hearse is a rockin’, don’t come a knockin’, baby! They’re still car-dancing as they pull up in front of the cemetery, where John angrily flips of the stereo asks them to have respect. Again, another person who has apparently never seen or heard of this show or what it’s about.
So it’s time to unload. Is it funny to watch a couple of spoiled rich girls, made-up and dressed in their finest Chanel, struggle with loading a big, heavy casket onto a dolly? You bet your proletarian ass it is. Paris screams for help, and Nicole finds the dolly has rolled out from under the casket, which is on the verge of falling. “I thought you saw like an arm fall out or something,” Nicole says laughing her rapidly disappearing butt off.
They roll the casket out of the hearse into the cemetery, where the two hapless are then given the task of shoveling dirt into a grave and engage in gravedigger dialogue that’s positively Shakespearean:
PARIS: I don’t know what’s worse. Being buried in the mud, or being burnt.
NICOLE: I think being burnt.
PARIS: At least you get a pretty box.
They conclude their profound ruminations on death by saying, “Josh, we’re sorry that whatever happened to you happened to you. Shalom.” Paris adds, “Amen.” Nicole corrects her by mentioning he’s supposed to be Jewish because, “Look at all the Jewish stars.”
After a hard day’s gravediggin’ the girls are brought into the offices of the cemetery to try their hand at a different facet of the business of death: they will help a couple that has come to the cemetery to make pre-arrangements. “Make them feel comfortable,” John urges. The first thing Nicole says to the cute little old couple is “So which one of you is planning to die?” The couple, named Joan and Ed Sullivan (“Isn’t that like someone famous’s name?” Paris asks) say that while they’re not planning on it, it’s going to happen, which is why they’re here to prepare for it. “If she goes first, are you going to get another girlfriend,” Nicole tactfully asks, followed thoughtfully by, “Do you guys want to be buried in the same casket on top of each other or two separate caskets?”
Instead of running screaming out of the cemetery, as I might have, the Sullivans seem to take the girls’ silliness in stride, and allow the girls to give a tour through the casket showroom. The first model they show is a classy green one with shamrocks on it. “We can arrange to have you washed with Irish Spring before you’re buried, because you’re Irish,” Nicole offers. After showing off a few more caskets, Nicole then asks how they want their faces arranged: in a smile or, as she demonstrates with a pert flip of her hand, in “Hey hey hey!” surprised party girl fashion. After the paperwork is done, the girls wish the Sullivans “a nice rest of your life.”
Next stop for the girls on their Day of the Dead is the crematorium. There, general manager Gary Sciarrino greets them and explains the process of cremation. No, Paris, it doesn’t involve making them into cream; it starts with burning the body, then involves pulverizing the bones—“What’s pulverize mean?” Paris asks, stone-faced. “Have you ever heard anyone screaming?” Nicole asks. Gary looks as if he’s reconsidering being on this show.
He sends the girls back to where the oven is, where the girls must collect ashes to bring back to the funeral home. “That is sick,” Paris says as she sees the long, body-sized (or perhaps, extra large baguette-sized) oven and the “bone crusher” machine. Paris lifts the lid, “Is that bone?” Nicole answers that it really is. “That’s really hot,” Paris responds, unclear over whether she means it in the literal or figurative sense.
The girls collect several canisters of ashes to bring back to the funeral home where there final task is to fill urns with the remains of what I’m sure is ACTUAL DEAD PEOPLE (and not, say, the remains of some Nag Champa incense or some other powdery facsimile). Be careful and don’t sneeze, John warns them. Armed with little scoops, a funnel and a full battery of “Ews,” the girls set to work, sloppily spilling ashes. “You’re getting human stuff all over us!” Paris moans. Well you didn’t mind so much that in the video with Rick Soloman, now did you?
Nicole hunts around the desk looking for something to write a “goodbye note” to one of their ashy buddies, and in so doing, knocks over an urn filled with [screams like Chuck Heston in Soylent Green] PEEEEOOOOPLE! Oopsy. They get a vacuum to clean up the mess, and of course John walks in just in time to be horrified. That marks the end of this internship. John evaluates the girls, flunking them in every other area except an A+ in appearance. That’s just enough to give the girls a pass and $75 apiece, and Paris & Nicole walk away talking about how “fun” the day was.
They return home to the Hirrels, and over dinner ask how Mom & Dad did with their quitting smoking. “I behaved all day,” Mom insists, “I smoked one, whole cigarette.” Dad smoked 17. Time to call in the big guns, Paris & Nic decide, and so they get a house call from one Jacqueline LeClaire from the Results Hypnosis Center. She gets the couple on the couch and (does she have a hot date or something she has to get to?) rushes through her hypnosis schtick at the speed of a cattle auctioneer. After getting the Hirrels into a deeply relaxed state, Paris & Nicole assist her by chanting helpful mantras like “Sleep, bitch.” As Jacqueline does her thing, installing affirmations and non-smoking messages into the Hirrels, the girls have a bit of fun getting the Hirrels to touch their noses every time they snap their fingers. Even as Nicole snaps away and dances like a flamenco dancer, each time Mom & Dad put their fingers up to their noses.
The next morning it’s time to say goodbye. Paris & Nic say they really care and hope that they’ll stop smoking, as Mom Hirrel coughs in the background. Dad says Mom is doing great, but he’s had two cigarettes already today. After a loving farewell, the girls head off to their van (what, did they ditch the preposterous Greyhound Bus scenario so quickly?) and oh-so-unpredictably and spontaneously, start snapping their fingers and whaddaya know, the Hirrels touch their fingers to their noses. Oh ho ho, stop it, girls. You’re killing me.
Ashes to ashes, funk to funky. Will these girls be the death of me? Email me at snowflakegirl@fansofrealitytv. com.