‘Rewatching ‘The Simple Life’ made me realise reality TV just isn’t what it used to be.’

Australia has always shared an unusual relationship with reality television: stained by Big Brother, redeemed by The Block, and now settling happily for The Bachelors.

But I’ve just rediscovered a reality TV classic that paved the way for each and every one of them — and still puts them to shame two decades later.

I came across The Simple Life — the US series spearheaded by heiresses Paris Hilton and socialite Nicole Richie, which ran between 2003 and 2007 — by accident, and lost the next five hours bingeing one YouTube episode after another.

Watch Paris and Nicole mess with a sign on The Simple Life. Post continues below.

Video via 20th Century Fox.

I messaged my friends, I wiped away tears of laughter, and I wondered how I’d discovered this so late.

The idea behind the show is to watch two wealthy socialites face the reality of “real life”. Their money was taken from them, along with their phones, but their incredible naivety remained.

Paris and Nicole – perhaps accidentally – created two caricatures of wealth that soothed middle America with walking, talking proof that all the money in the world couldn’t buy common sense.

Viewers watched as Paris stumbled to comprehend how people have jobs, complete housework and live in rural areas.

Now, it would be easy to just enjoy the show for her apparent stupidity — “What is WalMart? Do they sell wall stuff?” Paris asks in one memorable episode.