The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
Email This Page
Super-rich socialites shun it all at dairy farm
- Show pokes fun at village folk

Two young, super-rich socialites, famous for being... young and super-rich, are the stars of the latest US reality show in which they abandon their party lifestyles to slum it for four weeks on a dairy farm.

The show stars Paris Hilton, an heiress to the Hilton hotel fortune and her friend Nicole Richie, daughter of pop star Lionel. The simple premise of The Simple Life is the plight of the city-slicker confronted by the harsh realities of making a living in rural America. A sort of Beverly Hillbillies in reverse, the show takes Hilton and Richie, both 22, from their luxurious Los Angeles homes and flies them — in a private jet — to a farm near the town of Altus, Arkansas (population 817).

Once there, they squeal at insects, milk cows while in full make-up and generally flaunt what they clearly consider to be the required level of wealth-induced ignorance.

“What is Wal-Mart' Is that where they sell, like, wall stuff'” Paris asks at the dinner table of the family that play hick hosts to the two celebrity cuckoos in their midst. Fox hopes that by mixing the reality genre with the public fascination for celebrity it will have a hit on its hands, but press reviews have been less than glowing.

“Artificial culture-clash events are contrived so the girls can carp and cavort and look silly while somehow making the farm folk seem weird as well,” said the Washington Post, which described the show as an “adventure in pointlessness.” USA Today questioned why the US broadcast industry seemed so intent on “inventing ever new ways to humiliate people on TV and ever more forums to celebrate stupidity.”

The Boston Globe saw The Simple Life as part of an alarming trend, fostered by other reality shows like MTV’s Rich Kids and Newlyweds, for promoting images of apparently clueless, wealthy young women. “The new dumb bunnies of reality TV are a prime-time mini-spectacle of self-involvement, vapidity and social unawareness,” the newspaper said. “The most empowerment these reality chicks project is in their ability to put on their blinders and whip out the plastic.”

For Hilton, the genuine “reality” of living the celebrity life hit home when a video surfaced on the Internet of her enjoying a “sex romp” with a former boyfriend. The resulting scandal saw the media-friendly socialite scurrying for seclusion. Richie left Altus for rehab having pleaded guilty before filming to a charge of heroin possession.

Email This Page