The Simple Life 3

The Simple Life follows the follies of celebrity socialites Paris Hilton and Nicole Ritchie. In this, its third series, the duo takes on cross-country living with a series of unsuccessful internships. The 20-minute episodes find them working in a mailroom, a dental office, a mortuary, a garage and an airline. Madness ensues as the girls apply their puerile naivety to the problems of the middle-class families they room with, often aiming their unchaste suggestions on the men they encounter. Theirs is an America decorated with the hardworking, the repulsive and the curiously eccentric. The first surrogate mother that they find themselves attached to collects gaudy clocks and mourns the recent loss of her dog. Later, interning as mechanics, they steal a police car to buy nail polish. The first series of The Simple Life found hotel empire "heir-head" Hilton and pop progeny Ritchie venturing into rural farm living for a month — a social experiment planned and executed by those responsible for MTV's The Real World. That series was marketed with images of Hilton and Ritchie posing as Grant Wood's American Gothic (Hilton was the wife), their grinning blankness substituting for dour honesty. Wood's American Gothic models were the artist's sister, a stenographer, and his dentist. Where the first season saw The Simple Life's stars depreciate the models' painted mid-western family dynamic, here they have turned their sights on the models' modern realities. Like Growing Up Gotti, which focuses on the current generation of the Gotti crime family, or Family Business, which follows pornographer Adam Glasser's search for romance, this repellent document of supplanted nouveau stars claims to exploit the idle rich. Instead, it is the audience's morbid fascination with celebrity that is being mined. In watching "reality" unfold, the viewer gains a false sense of control over Hilton/Ritchie, the Gottis and the Glassers, not unlike fervent contributors to gawker.com and the recently publicised stalker fad. Traditionally, reality television humiliates the stars. Here, the stars humiliate television. (Fox)