La Vie rurale
September 2004
Early next fall, television viewers will be treated to a Québec adaptation of the hit American TV show The Simple Life. Ever heard of it? It’s a reality TV show starring Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie, a pair of 22-year old celebrities, who, having led a silver spoon existence, never had to do anything more than provide for their own comfort. One of the stars is Paris Hilton, great-grand-daughter of Conrad Hilton, founder of the Hilton chain of hotels. The other, is Nicole Richie, adopted daughter of famed pop singer Lionel Richie. The premise for The Simple Life is that both girls must live on a farm, with no credit cards or cell phones – the inhumanity! – and they must work at a variety of low-level jobs to support themselves. That’s pretty much it. The show was such a great success that a second season is already on air, and this time the girls travel across America in a trailer.

The Québec adaptation will be called La Vie rurale (Rural Life) and will be taped on a farm in the Eastern Townships. Where exactly? On a dairy farm in a tiny municipality. At least, that’s what I concluded as I read an article in La Presse in which Hugo Dumas wondered if Anne-Marie Losique, future star of La Vie rurale, could “find true enjoyment milking cows and shifting hay in downtown nowhere!” The second half of this duo is someone named Jacynthe. Jacynthe, no last name. They say she’s a singer, but I’ve never heard of her. And word is that New York is her favourite shopping destination.

I guess that worked in her favour for this kind of role.

However, there’s something I just don’t understand: why produce a show called The Simple Life – literally: life made simple – on a farm? As if life were that simple on a farm! I’ve worked on a farm, and frankly, I didn’t think it anywhere near simple. Having to adjust your schedule to the weather’s whims and work with people, animals, crops… It may be stimulating, fascinating, and even enlightening, but it is definitely not simple. It would seem rather complicated, especially when compared to life as a precious and privileged princess. Oh my, could I have misunderstood the meaning of the word ‘simple’? The more I think of it, the more I think I may have done just that!

I think ‘simple’ is not meant to describe the simplicity of life, but rather a statement of intellect, as in life for the simple-minded. In fact, no need to watch the whole show to figure out who is simple. Believe me, if the Québec version is a reflection of the American show, the girls will be the object of ridicule and the rural community has nothing to fear. This is particularly true for the Hilton heiress, who places metal cans in the microwave and is puzzled by the fetid smell that results, or is clueless when confronted with the complicated task of filling up her car, or attempts to ride a galloping horse – no hands!’ Nicole Richie doesn’t fare any better on the IQ scale. She’s crude and rude. Let’s say that these two girls with their long, flowing, yellow locks provide great material for dumb blond jokes.

Who knows how our own version is going to turn out with Losique and Jacynthe? Besides, I may not know Jacynthe, but Losique… eeeeek! I guess we’ll just have to see. The show is sure to attract a lot of young viewers. And I can’t wait to see which farm will play host to our two celebrities. Anyway, I hope the agricultural producers who’ve been granted this particular honour will take advantage of the opportunity, and clear up the many misinterpretations surrounding modern agriculture. No more Green Acres, and a little education could go a long way. While we’re at it, I hope they send Losique and the whole camera crew shopping at the neighbourhood cooperative, wouldn’t that be great?

In case you’re interested, the first episode of La Vie rurale will air Tuesday, September 7 on Musimax.

Colette Lebel, agr.
Director of Cooperative Affairs
La Coop fédérée
Fax: (514) 858-2025


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