Monday, March 24, 2008

The Hills, or, That Hour of My Life I'll Never Get Back

With the sweet strains of Mariah Carey's overused voice slowly permeating from my roommate's wall, the memories of the hour I just spent watching MTV's cash cow The Hills linger anew. As I've previously mentioned, The Hills is one of the two reality shows I watch. After tonight's premiere, I am not sure I can stick it out.

If you're reading this post you need to have watched the show to understand. There is no way I can exert the energy required to rehash the "plot."

I experienced a vast range of emotions while suffering through the episode, disgust being the most prevalent. The first half was especially bad--forced and uncomfortable, with a several blatant voice overs to urge on plot development regarding Lauren and Brody. I'm sorry, what plot? What development? However, the worst would be the Heidi and Spencer interludes. Heidi has become a shell of her former self--physically it's noticeable in her Barbie-doll looks; the bleached hair, the swollen lips, the large chest and tiny west. She looks like a wax caricature. Spencer is little better, frighteningly wooden in his motions and flat in his speech. Watching the two of them bicker feels awkwardly forced, and sometimes a strange wall seems to deteriorate and a creepy, almost real Spencer emerges, as his stares and tone become maniacal and abrasive. If I hadn't been watching in real time I am not sure I could have endured these scenes (note to self, watch on delay next time, if only for the fast forward option). The Heidi/Spencer moments are the most manufactured--so uncomfortably fake it is as though the exist in some alternate universe--I can hardly watch.

Let's take a brief moment to explore the contrived nature of the entire production. Even the commercials were staged and awkward. What was that odd sketch with Alicia Keys? I thought we were watching a condom commercial, and then it was a never ending advertisement for deodorant... or something.

But I digress. Ultimately the plot did improve, if only briefly. The perfection in casting Lauren as our heroine is that the girl is a complete dimwit. She's endearing, certainly, but is perfectly stupid. Take the incident with the Alberta Ferretti dress and the curling iron. Her reaction to her grave error seemed genuine, although the disaster did not. It was interesting to watch Whitney, the most underrated cast member, go into crisis mode, perhaps further emphasizing Lauren's incompetence. In any case, crisis averted as all was returned to perfect with a new $2,000 dress. Ah, the trials and tribulations of young girls living out their lives on "reality" tv.

A fun twist to the show was that this wasn't The Hills at all--this was Paris and Crested Butte, two locations that couldn't be more different, yet both stunning in their extreme forms of beauty. (I still find it interesting that a small ski town in Colorado is where Heidi calls home, as she seems to have been formulated in an LA gene factory.) I wish there had been more scenes of Lauren and Whitney in Paris, more interaction with the people of that alluring city. Audrina was noticeably absent, popping up just once to inform Lauren of Brody's love life. I can't say her presence was missing.

The show was capped off with some bits from the awkward after-party, including the aforementioned Mariah Carey performance. (Is it just me or is Mariah losing her voice chops? Her legs look great, as usual). Now I am sitting here with conflicted thoughts. The entire hour I spent watching I wanted nothing more than to not watch. Yet I couldn't bring myself to turn off the television. I had to step out at one point when the Heidi/Spencer subplot became too painful to sit through, however, I easily returned, unable to be distracted. All the while, I was hating every minute of it, and I think if I never saw another episode of this drivel again, my life might be better for it.

Here's the thing--in spite of my utter dislike, I am stuck, I am in it for good--hook, line, and sinker. I am going to have to endure this nauseating crap every Monday at 10 pm for the next eight weeks, and then for the next season, whenever that starts. The Hills may be a mindless crapfest but it has become a part of our social psyche, and is a guilty pleasure turned into a necessary evil. The Hills is the flawless love child of the current generation, reveling in its glory and narcissism, propelled by adoration and obsession, its followers helpless to watch anything else. I've been swept up into the movement, like a good portion of my friends. There's no turning back now...

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