Before there was Kim Kardashian, we had Paris Hilton. Before there was Keeping Up with the Kardashians, there was The Simple Life.
Everything the KarJenners are today, they owe to Hilton. She carved the path that her ex-assistant Kim Kardashian followed to fame. Like Kim, Hilton sought out paparazzi and tried to get photographed. When her sex tape went viral, she spun it into a reality TV show. The Simple Life wasn’t on air for as long as KUWTK, but it has almost as many memorable moments. According to The Things, getting those memorable moments on film wasn’t easy for Hilton and Nicole Richie. It even led to some serious health problems for Richie.
Nicole Richie and Paris Hilton never got a break from the ‘Simple Life’ camera
Keeping Up with the Kardashians is filmed on a schedule. That means the sisters have breaks from cameras. It also means some great stuff happens off camera, and the crew recreates it later. All reality shows have some level of scripting, including The Simple Life. But Hilton and Richie never got a break from the cameras, at least not in the beginning. According to Richie, “We were filmed 24/7: in the bedroom, in the car, in the living room. This changed later on, but at the beginning it was reality at its finest.”
That doesn’t mean everything was real. Although the girls were purportedly in the middle of nowhere, some of the show was filmed just a stone’s throw away from their California home. In one season, Richie and Hilton were working at a camp, but instead of being somewhere out west, camp Shawnee was actually in Malibu. Not only was it in California, but it was completely fake.
Nicole Richie reportedly became dehydrated during filming and had to be hospitalized
In the last season, Richie became dehydrated and had to be hospitalized. It seems like even though the camp was fake, the work Richie was putting into the show was very real. Producers didn’t want to delay production, and they didn’t have to. Richie went to the hospital, got treatment, and jumped right back into filming. Fans were unaware at the time that Richie had been sick, or that production had been interrupted at all.
That wasn’t the only wrench in season 5. The last season of The Simple Life saw Richie and Hilton serving jail time for driving under the influence. Hilton served 23 days, and Richie only four. But it was still an interruption to the filming. It was a good thing the camp was fake. Actors could come back and continue filming at any time, and the crew probably had to work after hours to make the show happen after all the issues.
Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie were technically acting
Even though Hilton and Richie were on a reality TV show, the producers asked them each to play a part. Hilton claims “Well, basically, the producers of the show told us to play these characters.” Hilton was instructed to play the airhead. Throughout the duration of the show, Hilton spoke in what she calls a “baby voice.” Basically, a ditzier version of her real voice. She doesn’t talk like that in real life, and she’s not as air-headed as she appeared on The Simple Life. Hilton played up her dumb blonde persona for the show.
As for Richie, the producers wanted her to be a troublemaker. Like Hilton, she leaned into her role. Richie became the troublemaker, although that’s not necessarily who she is. Just like the baby-voiced airhead isn’t who Hilton is.