“Laguna Beach”, without a doubt, was the greatest thing to ever happen to me/MTV watchers everywhere. The on-and-off again romances of Kristen and Steven, poor good-girl Lauren always getting shafted, and my personal favorite, Lo, just bein’ sassy all over the place. There was nothing NOT to love about these young, attractive high schoolers who both represented me in my youth and inexperience but also society as a whole and its fascination with things they cannot obtain.
“Laguna Beach” became old news when in 2006 MTV introduced its most genius brainchild yet, “The Hills”. Super-Crier Lauren Conrad in the big city working at Teen Vogue and living with her best friend, Adorable Pre-Plastic Surgery Heidi!? WHAT WHAT! Of course I’m going to watch this. And watch it I did.
I am all too ready to admit that I have watched “The Hills” in its entirety about 4 times. A scripted “reality” show as vapid as this does not usually lend itself to have so much rewatchability, but that is where “The Hills” defies all convention. There is a very distinct way to watch “The Hills” so you can derive maximum pleasure, and makes for a pretty awesome evening drinking with your best friend.
Watching The Hills Rule #1: Watch the Title Theme
I can’t stress this one enough. Watching the intro to the show is crucial to the overall experience, even if you have been watching the whole series back to back. Every time you watch it you will uncover subtlties in what the producers and directers intended. The song speaks to you in a different way. In the case of “The Hills”, title song “Unwritten” has some very serious insinuations. Are they suggesting illiteracy among the girls, or are they driving home the idea that the show is, in fact, un-scripted? If you fast forward through the opening credits because you’ve “already seen/heard it a million times,” you are cheating yourself out of the first chance you get to add depth and meaning to your crappy TV watching experience.
Watching The Hills Rule #2: Love or Hate, but Nothing In Between
I am not a huge sports fan, but every so often I do love picking a team to love or hate. I root until my lungs are sore just for the hell of it. In this way, The Hills is like my sportball. I have strong feelings about every single character for reasons that are very real to me. These perceptions change as I grow and learn new things about life and love and hair. Looking through this lens reminds you that even though the girls are plastic, you are a living, breathing, changing human.
Watching The Hills Rule #3: Please Don’t State The Obvious
Recently Maddie and I were watching, well, guess. We had all the necessary equipment: snuggies, glasses of wine, homemade curry, and popcorn. We were occupying our friend’s bedroom so we ever so kindly invited him to join us while we watched with glee. Maddie and I laughed and laughed, oh how we laughed while we rooted for LC to FOR THE LOVE OF GOD put the headbands down. But he didn’t get it. He didn’t laugh once. Why? Because he was doing it wrong. He just saw a bunch of vapid girls he wanted to call stupid. Once again, I say DON’T STATE THE OBVIOUS. Of course they are stupid. WHO CARES? They are pretty and on TV. Just watch them! There is so much else to the show to pay attention to! There is Heidi’s ever molding face, Spencer’s slow decent into crazy-town, Lauren’s constant cry sessions, Whitney’s reaction shots, Audrina’s non-committal comments….the list goes on and on. So don’t be a fool and pass on this reality TV buffet of wonderful. There is a smorgesbord of awesome.
Watching The Hills Rule #4: Remember These People Think This is Their Real Life
This is where it is going to get a little tricky. Don’t for a second think I am asking you to empathize with these characters, but don’t discount their feelings and struggles either. Here, you have to take the mental high road and think a little critically about the choices that have lead these girls to be on this show that is on for YOUR entertainment. That is a critical element: real or not, remember the lives of these people are now repurposed for your entertainment. These girls either now believe everything that is happening to them REALLY IS HAPPENING, or it isn’t happening at all but they believe they are making you believe it is happening. Have I lost you? I think I am lost myself. So lemme leave it at this:
Laugh because these girls believe that what happens to them on the show is real OR
Laugh because these girls think YOU believe what happens to them on the show is real. Or maybe just laugh because MTV approached Lauren, Heidi, Audrina and Whitney and told them the idea for the show and they willingly agreed. Think about that.
Watching The Hills Rule #5: Don’t let the show end just because the show has ended.
The best part of The Hills is that this “real life drama” doesn’t end—their lives still going and the fun never stops. Have you seen what Heidi and Spencer have been doing since leaving The Hills? And WHY does Audrina Patridge think she is a real person now? BAH.
Watching The Hills while it was on not only provided me with hours of entertainment, but has introduced me to a cast of people who continue to give me the gift of laughter and self validation–this too can be yours! All you have to do is swallow your pride, steal your neighbor’s Netflix login, and say goodbye to all your credibility as a pop culture consumer.
AND DON’T FORGET THE VINO!