"Rich Girls" and "The Simple Life" Reviews
By Shawn McKenzie 12/15/2003
Since both MTV’s “Rich Girls” and FOX’s “The Simple Life” have the same basic theme of following the adventures of rich girls, I thought I’d review them at the same time. I’ll tell you right off the bat…they may both be about a pair of spoiled rich girls, but they certainly differ in concentrating on what the audience may actually care to see.
In “Rich Girls,” we see the everyday lives of 18-year-old socialites Ally Hilfiger and Jaime Gleicher. Ally is the daughter of clothes designer Tommy Hilfiger, and Jaime is the daughter of Leo Gleicher, the founder of Innovation Luggage. Not much is known about Leo, except that he divorced Jaime’s mom and is really, really old. Tommy and Ally’s mom are separated. Shopping occurs at least once an episode.
In the first episode, Ally and Jaime get ready for their prom. Jaime wants to lose her virginity after the prom. They do a bunch of shopping, go to their prom, Jaime’s date gets sick, and Jaime never loses her virginity (which she is glad about in hindsight.)
In the second episode, the girls graduate from high school. The whole episode is about Jaime’s drama over Michael (the guy she took to the prom) and their problems that I don’t understand, all taking place at a big graduation party thrown by Ally’s dad.
In the third episode, Ally and Jaime go to a premiere of a movie that Ally produced and then they go to Nantucket to celebrate the Fourth of July. That’s about it, if you include the shopping and their desire to raise funds for Ethiopia.
In the fourth episode, nothing significant happens…I swear! Unless you count more shopping, a trip to the Hamptons, Tommy buying a car, and the girls reviewing Tommy’s latest line of clothes. Actually, the best part of this episode is their lunch with Jaime’s octogenarian dad, and the fact that he thinks everyone is a bad person.
In the fifth episode, Jaime’s dog gets sick, and it actually takes up the whole episode, so let’s move on to episode six. Ally whines about not being independent enough, and her remedy for that problem is to attempt to make her own burritos (not kidding!) When Jaime’s computer crashes, she buys a new computer instead of trying to get the old one fixed (must be nice…) Apparently the burrito thing didn’t cheer Ally up, so they visit Jaime’s aunt in Seattle, and I guess that worked.
In episode seven, the girls meet a couple of guys at a Chipotle (they do like their burritos) in L.A. They give them their numbers and later hook up, but then go back home to deal with another drama. They apparently greatly upset their friend Liz by stiffing her on their plans to go to Greece with her. They make lame excuses to Liz, eat dinner with Randy from “American Idol,” and invite the guys over to hang out again.
In “The Simple Life,” we get shopping only once, at the beginning of the first episode. After that, the exploits of Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie are pure hilarity. Paris is the heir to the Hilton Hotels fortune (I’m not even going to get into the sex tape thing) and Nicole is legendary R&B singer Lionel Richie’s daughter. While Ally and Jaime were somewhat grounded in the real world, these two have never known it. They are incredibly spoiled, and in a vain attempt to try to understand the real world, they have subjected themselves to this FOX “social experiment.” They will spend thirty days with the Leding family in Atlus, Arkansas. They have no cell phones, no credit cards, and no spending money. Paris is bringing along her teacup Chihuahua, Tinkerbell. The Leding family is a multi-generational one that has lived on their farm since 1882. The head of the family are the grandparents, Richard, 76, and Curly, 72, who have been married for over fifty years. They live with their youngest son Albert, 41, and his wife Janet, 38. Albert and Janet’s kids are: Ryan, 20; Justin, 19; Cayne, 15; and Braxton, 4. Ryan is currently away in the military, while the other three live at home. I believe at one time this show was going to be called “The Real Green Acres,” but because of the trouble CBS went through with “The Real Beverly Hillbillies,” they probably changed the name to avoid the same scandal. Make no worries though, because this show doesn’t make fun of Arkansas life, but instead pokes fun at the clueless-ness of these girls.
In the first episode, the girls head off to Arkansas. When they get there, they are immediately at a loss at what to do. They have to drive a pickup truck to the farm, and they have trouble doing that. They get there, and they learn that they will live on the porch with a well in it (Nicole doesn’t know what a well is) and that there is one bathroom. They are sent to the grocery store with $50, and they don’t know what the word “generic” is or what a soup kitchen is supposed to be. Back at home, they have chicken (which they had refused to kill themselves) and wonder what a Wal-Mart is. After fighting off a spider in their room, they joke that they should have a threesome with Justin.
In the second episode, the girls get their first real job ever. Albert sets them up with a job on a dairy farm milking cows. They predictably mess everything up, and are fired after almost one whole day. Meanwhile, Braxton practically tortures Tinkerbell while playing with the spoiled dog. The episode ends with the girls sneaking out of the house past midnight, after knowing Albert’s strict midnight curfew rule.
In the third episode, the girls get their second real job ever. This time it is at Sonic Burgers. At the dairy farm, they seemed like they were at least trying to do the job, but at Sonic, they spend the whole time screwing around. They flirt with customers, purposely mess up the marquee, and flip off drivers in their Sonic Drink costumes. Back at home, the Ledings are frustrated that the girls never do any chores. The episode ends with the girls partying at the local sports bar.
One show bored me to tears and one show made me tear up with laughter. Can you figure out which was which? Before either of these shows had premiered, I saw a fascinating documentary on HBO called Born Rich. Jamie Johnson, the 23-year-old heir to the Johnson & Johnson fortune, filmed it. In it, he explored the meaning of being born into money rather than earning it. Some were ashamed, some didn’t care, and some wanted to use it to further themselves (I believe Jamie himself fell into that last category.) I think Ally and Jaime straddle between all three, while Paris and Nicole are clearly in the second category. The problem with watching Ally and Jaime is that they think we care about their lives. I want to be rich myself someday, but I don’t think I would fool myself into thinking anyone would care about seeing my everyday life.
What makes watching Paris and Nicole so different is that it is your typical fish-out-of-water story. I’m surprised MTV didn’t realize this with Ally and Jaime’s show. The best “day-in-the-life” reality shows are usually filled with something outrageous and/or humorous, such as “The Osbournes” or “Newlyweds,” both on MTV. The cool thing about Paris and Nicole is that they seem to be fully aware how clueless they are, and they just don’t care. I just saw Nicole on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” and she said that the producers originally came to them with an idea that sounded similar to “Rich Girls,” and they thought it sounded boring (good thinking...maybe they aren’t so dumb.) It was when the “Green Acres” concept was brought to them that they thought it was a good idea.
Fortunately, “Rich Girls” has just one episode left, while “The Simple Life” is just getting started. The ratings for the latter were huge, and they are already negotiating a second season (though the “Green Acres” idea might get old after one season, so I don’t know what they are going to do.) Believe it or not, Ally and Jaime brought the idea of their show to MTV and produced it themselves. It’s too bad they couldn’t get some objective eyes to watch the footage and tell them how boring their lives really are. On the flip side, I wouldn’t want to work on a dairy farm or a Sonic Burger joint myself, so it is so much funnier to see Paris and Nicole doing it instead. Now…if Ally and Jaime were forced to stop shopping and work on a farm…nah.
“The Simple Life”:
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