America's hottest celebutantes, Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie, are back, and this time, they're taking over the country one family at a time! With their heated rivalry in high gear, the girls compete fiercely to see who would make a better housewife. Each hilarious episode brings a new family, a new challenge, and a new excuse to party! Never mind the fact that there are diapers to change and houses to clean when there are tequila shots to down and strip clubs to hit! Reality television has never been this wild...Simply put, it's simply outrageous!
For being one of the shows that's often thought of as an example of reality TV's origins, there's never been much reality in the overly long-lived series The Simple Life
. This two-sided, single disc of the fourth (and last) season has even less to do with reality than any of its preceding installments. Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie are still acting their parts of simpleton celebrities thrust into the "real" lives of regular folk, but during the contractually obligated production of what had become an astonishingly popular show, the poor little rich girls were in the midst of a bitter feud. They hated each others' guts, weren't speaking, and thanks to the machinations of their individual publicity experts, the whole world knew it. Consequently, the two rarely share screen time together except for ample sequences of split-screening, which makes for an even more bizarre pairing for two dim-witted million-heiresses who remain famous for nothing more that, well, being famous. Season four consists of a variety of slices of suburban Los Angeles family life with the wife/mother role being taken over on alternate days by either Paris or Nicole. As usual, they sneer and make fun of the lower class that they visit--all the while showing absolutely no class of their own. Their feud is vaguely addressed in the first episode, with the other nine being fairly rote imitations of their earlier-season forays into the humdrum of screaming kids, grocery shopping, preparing food, bill-paying, and every other mundane things the girls have been coached into criticizing and laughing at by the show's producers. We're invited into some parts of the girls' "real" lives with glimpses into their homes amidst their psychological destruction of others'. But as with the prior seasons, the can't-look-away-from-the-train-wreck aspect is the thing that keeps our attention. They hate us and we hate them, so it's the very definition of symbiotic entertainment. Since they also hate each other there's an extra element of amusement; only don't think too hard lest the fine line between amusement and contempt disappears. Who knows if their feud was real or made up by the genius publicity machines behind their fame. One thing that's not made up and definitely not comical is the gruesome change in Nicole Richie's body as her issues with low body weight reveal itself over the course of the episodes. No matter how much Paris despised her, she should have taken her ex-friend to In-N-Out for a few late-night burger binges (without the purging). --Ted Fry