Jessica Simpson returned to reality television last night with her new show The Price of Beauty. On it, Jessica is on a search for her own inner beauty, by traveling the world and discovering what different cultures consider beautiful. And we're along for the ride. So are her best friends CaCee Cobb and Ken Paves, the latter of whom is her hairdresser and makeup artist. Oh, the paradox of having your personal primper on an international tour focusing on inner beauty. (Paves basically built his career off selling people on Jessica's look. Shall we even bring up the Jessica-inspired ten-piece clip-in hair extensions that cost $295?!) But, ahem, let's continue.
The kickoff episode took the trio to Thailand, where they experienced a Thai massage, laughed at Buddhists, and ate a pig that they picked to get slaughtered. They also met a former singer who suffered from skin discoloration after trying whitening cream and met women who stretched their necks out with twenty-pound rings. What we can gather from Jessica's search is that sometimes finding inner beauty is a stunning journey, and other times the quest has an unattractive side.
• Jessica introduced herself: "People know me as a singer and as a fashion designer." Singer? Yes. Fashion designer? GIRL, PLEASE. No, they don't.
• When Jessica and Ken got Thai massages, we watched as petite female masseuses kneed them in their backs, butts, arms, legs, and everywhere possible. While reflecting on her pain, Jessica said: "I thought Thai massages had happy endings. I was just wondering where mine was." A corny joke gone sour! How can we not think of John Mayer when she says this? He already told the whole world about how happy her endings can be.
• Jessica complained about her heels twice. There were even close-ups focusing on how unpractical, tall, and uncomfortable her footwear looks. And when you start to think this woman is nuts for wearing five-inch heels to visit a Buddhist temple where you're not even allowed to wear shoes inside, a commercial comes on that says "Shop Jessica's Look." Because everything she wore was from her "designer" collection, at which point this show devolved into one big clothing infomercial. Papa Joe must be behind this.
• After riding in a tuk tuk around Bangkok and describing it to viewers as wagonlike transportation, Jessica stated that she has no idea what a tuk tuk is. Fail.
• After riding on an elephant, she said: "His hair looks like a scrotum" and "It definitely felt like you were high up." These are the kinds of profound, philosophical statements that lead to flashbacks of her MTV show The Newlyweds.
• She picked a pig that was subsequently slaughtered and cooked over an open fire. If she really wanted to use a metaphor for her relationships, this opened the door for it. Alas, she missed it.
PRETTY LITTLE THINGS
• Jessica sang the opening song, named "Who We Are," which includes lyrics like "Words can cut so deep / Weighing down on me / Time and time I see how vicious the world can be." Preach the truth, Jess! Words are cruel. This is like an anthem for the middle-school years, and we're pretty sure it's only a matter of time before every seventh-grade girl buys this for their ringtones.
• Sonia Couling, the trio's host in Bangkok, was the former host of Thailand's Next Top Model. She was so graceful.
• The tender, tearful moment shared between Jessica and a woman who was a singer and bleached her skin with black-market whitening creams. It brought attention to a very serious issue about what women do to their skin that causes major damage, and how it's different in every culture. While Americans obsess over tanning, Thais obsess over whitening. And in each case, it's dangerous.
• Jessica giggled during a meditation session with a Buddhist monk after she'd been sitting Indian-style for 40 minutes. That took patience! She only scored points because she didn't intentionally try to offend him, and because she was humble enough to admit that her chuckles were a huge, HUGE eff-up.
• In the Chiang Rai Province of Thailand, they visited women who, as part of tradition, stretch their necks out with rings that weigh twenty pounds, which alters the bone structure in their rib cages and shoulders. After CaCee and Jessica tried on necklaces, Ken did, too, and it sends the village women into a laughing fit because men don't traditionally put on the neckwear. At long last, Ken wasn't deadweight — he contributed!
• Jessica says "Tradition is beautiful in Thailand" at the very end. Sometimes it is.
What else was pretty and ugly about The Price of Beauty? Tell us in the comments.