Do you wish you could go back and rewatch moments of your adolescence? That is what MTV offered recently during its 10 year anniversary celebration for one time hit show, The Hills. You may remember The Hills as the more dramatic, more surgically enhanced, and less plausible reality TV sequel to Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County.
The original series followed Lauren Conrad, or LC as she is more widely known, and her merry band of privileged, camera vetted, and heavily made up friends through their Hollywood hijinx. Jobs, break ups, fights, rumors, and vacations parlayed into the show’s favorite word: drama. And in the overproduced game of Life, that drama was the fuel the show’s producers used to move the pieces around.
MTV celebrated the decade, plastering The Hills alumni all over its slew of networks. An hour retrospective, The Hills: That Was Then, This Is Now, featured LC, the show’s lead personality, dishing on notable moments, with the benefit of perspective.
Would the gang be embarrassed of their former selves? Would they cop to how fake the show was? Would the show feel dated, 10 years in the rearview? And what are all those beautiful people and incredible messes doing now?
Unfortunately LC was the only celeb-reali-actor offered up for the special, which some frenemies did not appreciate. To be fair, LC was the show’s Hamlet protagonist. That characterization may trivialize Shakespeare, except that The Bard has as many questions regarding his legitimacy as The Hills always had.
LC comes off glowingly mature and adult, especially for someone who had been shown crying more times on television than all pageant contestants in history, combined. She bravely looks back at some intense break ups and frivolous nights just bickering for bickerings sake. LC offers thoughtful, reasoned thoughts, “Every argument to me just felt like the end of the world and I think that’s also a part of growing up looking back and being like that wasn’t really a big deal. I was just being dramatic.”
Besides revisiting show highs and lows, viewers got a look at current day LC, now Lauren Conrad Tell, a married, 30 year-old business owner. Though her doe eyes and slow developing, apprehensive smile still mirror the 20 year-old MTV made famous, LC is full of modesty and thirty-something wisdom. She laughs at her faults and continuously demonstrates the humility that often made her both a show victim and fan favorite. “I expected for The Hills, once it stopped airing, to sort of disappear and I didn’t ever think that people would be talking about it today.”
During its time, The Hills was widely panned as vapid, vain, and unimportant, all fair and accurate criticisms. But something funny happened on its way to becoming a cultural blight: LC and some of her produced pals became successful, smart, and decent members of society.
LC is the biggest winner today, something those oversized tears did not foreshadow. Her business offers two different fashion lines, she penned a New York Times bestseller, and celebritynetworth.com suggests she has $25 million. Not exactly the same girl who gave up an internship in Paris for some boy.
One of LC’s most notable antagonists was Kristin Cavallari, a high school mean girl before being a mean girl was fetch. Like most high school rivalries, the two competed for attention. First over boys, and later over friends, parties, and camera time. Kristin was always marketed as the newer model of LC, featuring added charisma, posher accessories, more capable minions, and always willing to go a length further to “win.”
In 2013, Cavallari married Chicago Bear quarterback Jay Cutler and is still in the public eye through the paparazzi lens or her charitable efforts.
Brody Jenner was the show’s male lead and a romantic ping pong ball that ricocheted between the paddles of LC and Kristin. Brody is the son of Caitlyn Jenner (previously Bruce Jenner), who at the time had been the only person whose fame pre-dated The Hills, as Olympic champion. Today, Brody sporadically appears on Keeping Up with the Kardashians alongside his far more narcissistic stepsisters, and is surprisingly the least famous Jenner.
Heidi and Spencer Pratt, the show’s most maligned duo fell farthest from the spotlight that once kept them as tabloid fodder. Heidi’s numerous plastic surgeries (brought to you by the bra sizes C, D, F and the face ARGH!) and Spencer’s tirades kept them nominally memorable but ultimately fizzled after the show wrapped. These days the Pratts, who always seemed like the producers’ favorite mistakes, cling to reality, instead of reality television.
The Hills featured Natasha Bedingfield’s “Unwritten” as its theme, and beat viewers over the head with its obvious, heavy-handed lyrics. “Drench yourself in words unspoken / Live your life with arms wide open / Today is where your book begins / The rest is still unwritten.” But 10 years later, life is more etched out for LC and company. Once mocked for trips to Cabo or sex tape rumor accusations, The Hills castmates, despite their youthful indiscretions, are mostly successes.
MTV, the channel responsible for enough shows about teen moms that they had to name one, Teen Mom O.G., might have actually created a legacy to be proud of. For the kids of The Hills, What seemed like mountains of bad decisions compounded with very poor public coping strategies, somehow managed to self-correct. And maybe that, 10 years later, is how the show is finally relatable to its viewers.