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Scalpel! Sponge! Forceps! Nail polish... No, that's not exactly the way things go on The Simple Life: Interns, the latest version of Paris Hilton's and Nicole Richie's adventures across America, but it could be.
We dropped in on Paris and Nicole again recently, three years after visiting the original show, (go ahead, call us masochists!) currently being screened on Star World Thursdays at 8:30, and found that the more things change, the more they pretty much stay the same.
Whereas the first series had the girls headed down south for a long-term stay with a family, now the two starlets are strictly on the road, riding the bus from city to city for short-term stays with families who take them in and find them jobs as interns.
So it was that we met our dynamic if somewhat dopey duo headed for Wilmington, Delaware when disaster struck: the girls' lap dogs had an accident all over the bus floor. It's nice to know that even Hollywood hotties have to clean up after their pets, even if the bus line is called Greyhound.
After arriving at the McGivneys' home in Wilmington, the girls settled down in teenage son Brendan's room, which featured his religious figurine collection. "Are you religious?" asked Nicole. "Only when it comes to figurines," snapped Brendan.
If any viewers thought the FOX Network's stooping to pooping for entertainment value was over with the scene on the bus, they clearly underestimated its producers. For this week's "internship" was at the Small Wonder Day Care Center, and the first order of business was, naturally, changing diapers.
Gearing up for the awesome task, Nicole turned to the puzzled youngsters and declared: "Today is no-poop day. Don't go poop until you get home, okay?" That didn't faze the little tykes, however, and before you could say Pampers, it was time for the girls to get down and dirty.
"How do you put them on? Are the cartoons in the front or the back?" asked Nicole. Paris simply screamed, adding: "I'm going to barf."
"Here's your bleach and water," noted their supervisor as she handed them the materials. "What do you do with the bleach and water - spray it on their butt?" asked Nicole. "NOOO!" yelled the horrified Paris.
Once they got the diapering down, however, the girls were surprisingly efficient, making handprint "turkeys" with the kids and asking them important questions about life, like Nicole's queries: "Do you pick your nose and eat it? Do you pick your nose and put it in your ear?" The kids, of course, lied and said "no" to both questions. Ultimately, their efforts earned them an A- from the center's co-owner, and $100 each for their efforts.
No, there are no current openings.
Of course, the producers don't want us to think our ladies are just crazies; they also have their soft side. So we watched as they hauled themselves to the local Goodwill, where they collected odds and ends to schlepped back to the McGivneys'. They then organized a gift for Liam, their host family's youngest son, who'd been sleeping on his 13-year-old sister's floor for years: his own room. Their hosts were amazed.
SO THE question is - after three years, is this show better or worse? The formula's pretty much the same: See spoiled-rotten crazy ladies get their hands dirty and live off the land, cut off from their usual creature comforts. But by moving them from town to town, the producers have also cut off any sense of continuity or tension in each place. After all, it's one thing not to be able to get into your own bathroom because Paris Hilton is hogging it. After a week, we got the feeling the southern family hosting these ladies would probably have fed them to the hogs. Now there's something we would've liked to have seen.
Alas, like the girls, fans of reality TV series have the attention span of... reality TV fans. So the girls lugged their incredible collection of luggage back down to the bus stop to continue their tour, ahead of their next "internship" - this time at a zoo.
While both women clearly use the show to boost their off-screen images - Richie is rumored to be battling an eating disorder, Paris just kissed off another Greek tycoon - the program's the equivalent of a snack of rugalach and a soda: Disturbingly satisfying, but totally empty.
But that's before the upcoming episode, in which the two get jobs at a mortuary.
Apparently the producers tried to land Capitol Hill internships for the two, but no one would have them. Still, years from now, when Paris and Nicole are members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for the day, we'll probably sin again and tune in. Because thanks to the plague of reality shows, it seems like we'll always have Paris.
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