Judge Brett Cullum loves it when people say "That's Hot."
Paris: That's hot.
After three seasons on Fox and one on the E! cable channel, there wasn't much left to do with Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie…and yet here we have The Simple Life Goes to Camp. They lived on a farm, performed internships, road tripped across small town America, and become surrogate wives for unlucky husbands. For year five, the two reunited friends were sent to a summer camp for five weeks. But this was no average Meatballs adventure of kids out in the woods with socialites. No, most of the visitors to Camp Shawnee were more colorful than Paris and Nicole as counselors. The rich girls help Susan Powter run a weight loss education camp, prepare pageant girls for beauty contests, run a drama workshop, learn about survivalist techniques, and work with porn star Jenna Jameson to bring couples back together. Sally Kirkland shows up for the final two episodes, and even Tinkerbell makes a cameo. There's yet another manufactured Paris "showmance" with a buff camp counselor named Hunter, and the girls destroy the camp more than they help run it. The Simple Life Goes to Camp seems more scripted than ever, amidst bigger problem facing the series. Let's face it, our two reality superstars were far more interesting for what they experienced outside of a show they were contractually obliged to complete. 2007 won't be remembered as the year these girls became camp counselors, it will be the year they both went to jail.
I championed The Simple Life for three years, as it was a cute diversion for Fox. Even the fourth season on E! was interesting because the feud between the two girls provided some dramatic tension. Unfortunately, now the series just seems weak and stale. It still has funny moments, but has never felt less real. We've known for some time the girls are putting on an act, but the camping episodes are where the seams start showing far too much. The Lucy and Ethel antics are staged and the participants well prepared for whatever happens. And why shouldn't they be? We've seen this four times before, and we know these girls are far more trouble let loose in real life Los Angeles than they could ever be out in the woods. Reality has ruined the fantasy, and it's impossible to buy these sweet naive images.
The Simple Life Goes to Camp could have rocked it out if the cameras just followed Nicole and Paris through their respective legal woes and subsequent jail terms. The real lives of these rich party girls is anything but simple, and that's the world we clamor to see. How many people watched CNN as Paris walked out of jail and into her mom's waiting Suburban? Way more than those of us who watched this season of The Simple Life.
The DVD provides exactly what has come before, collecting all ten twenty-minute episodes on one flipper disc with half on each side. There are no extras, the episodes are presented full screen format, and all remain edited for television with bleeps and blurs covering anything truly offensive. It looks better than Season Four thanks to improved production values, but there's nothing remarkable about the transfer or the soundtrack.
The Simple Life Goes to Camp was a reality show trumped by the real world, aired while both girls faced criminal charges. Watching Paris act sweet, Nicole stuffing her face, and the "campers" acting shocked by their counselors' bad behavior is all too calculated and coy. Fans will find much of the same from previous seasons repeated here, but will anyone find this new? The camp setting is different, but the show looks like last year's fashions. And we know these girls wouldn't be caught dead wearing anything older than a week. It's time to say goodbye to The Simple Life, because we know better. Nicole and Paris are a lot more complicated and their fates much crueler than these silly scripted antics.
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