17 June 2016 | VinnieRattolle
Who's the boss, again?
Sara Campbell (Judith Light) is a Martha Stewart wannabe who decides to buy a farm and broadcast the show from her new home, much to the chagrin of her family (Florence Stanley, Ashlee Levitch), TV producer (James Patrick Stuart) and local farmhand Luke (Brett Cullen).
It's really hard NOT to compare this short-lived show to the better-known "Who's the Boss?" Again, Light is at odds with (and obviously attracted to) suave man-of-the-house Cullen. And again Light has a horny mother (Stanley)... who's a bit more unrepentant in her blatant lust for the farmhand than Mona ever was for Tony. And Luke takes care of his dead sister's kids (Ross Malinger, Eliza Dean), who are there merely to be precocious.
Looking past the obvious similarities between the two shows, "The Simple Life" was enjoyable, albeit forgettable. Light and Cullen really did have undeniable chemistry. Stuart was hilariously on-the-mark as the weasely, brown-nosing British TV producer; sex-starved Stanley was a riot, as always; and the delightful Sara Rue had too-small a part in a recurring role as Sara's stalker-turned-personal-assistant.
In an obvious ratings ploy (the sort that creates confusion amongst TV fans), there were two crossover episodes with "The Nanny," which directly preceded "The Simple Life" on the Wednesday night CBS schedule. No, this wasn't a spin-off... and it seemed like the scenes of Fran Drescher in the pilot were tacked-on as an afterthought.
Six months before this hit the air, word spread in the Hollywood rumormill that Martha Stewart, whose own show was on CBS, was furious about "The Simple Life" and "Style & Substance," both of which featured send-ups of her public persona. Despite decent ratings, "Style & Substance" (the better of the two) was yanked off the schedule after a month and canceled; "The Simple Life" was held back until summer, when networks "burn off" shows that they have no intention of renewing. It was fluffy, forgettable and probably didn't stand a chance of renewal anyway (7-episode midseason replacements seldom do), but "The Simple Life" wasn't really offensive enough to incite Stewart's wrath, unlike "Style," which (probably accurately) depicted her as a psycho control freak.