Crucial Minutia
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Felice Belle
Stakes is High: Why I Won’t Watch “The Hills”
2 Comments | posted March 18th, 2007 at 06:29 pm by Felice Belle

The Hills Logo

I graduated from high school the same year as Brenda, Brandon and the whole gang from West Beverly Hills High. I rooted for Kelly when she hooked up with Dylan, while Sophie B. Hawkins’ Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover underscored their oceanside infidelity. I shouted “Donna Martin graduates” at my television when the principal threatened to keep Tori Spelling from getting her diploma because of her drunken prom night antics. I have even, on occasion, shed a tear during particularly poignant episodes of Dawson’s Creek. (Laugh if you must, but the writing on that show was exquisite, especially during the first two seasons when Kevin Williamson was still the Executive Producer). I just want to make it clear that I love a teen melodrama in all its glory. Yet and still, I cannot understand why people I know and love and respect are watching The Hills.

MTV is often credited with giving birth to reality television with it’s now famous franchise The Real World. Fifteen years after its debut, the show has degenerated into a house full of drunken frat boys and promiscuous party girls with substance abuse problems and intimacy issues. Current cast members use the show as a stepping stone toward fame and fortune or at the very least a slot on the next Real World/Road Rules Challenge. But what made the first season of The Real World infinitely more watchable than any subsequent season was that all of the cast members aspired to something more than their fifteen minutes. Kevin the writer, Julie the dancer, Eric the model, Becky the singer-songwriter – all artists living in New York City, pursuing their passion. It was essentially an adult version of the series Fame. And that I could support.

In contrast, the world of The Hills exists only for those who reside there. The characters have no discernable history beyond their on-screen personas. No home movies of what they were like at age five. No dysfunctional drug-addicted cousin asking to crash on the couch. There is no talk of light bills or dental appointments, only the latest on who’s dating whom and who said what behind so-and-so’s back. It’s almost as if the show’s sole purpose is to prime pretty young faces for a guest correspondent position on Access Hollywood.

Even if I could get past the conversations and conflicts created for the camera. The fake reaction shots. The lack of plot. The underlying problem with this new class of “lightly-scripted” reality drama is that placing real people in manufactured situations translates into poor acting. I have never once doubted the emotional depth of one of Joey Potter’s longing looks at Dawson Leery, but L.C. is another story. If one is going to put this sort of thing on TV, one should hire a writing staff and trained actors. But that show already existed. It was called The O.C.

This entry was posted on Sunday, March 18th, 2007 at 6:29 pm and is filed under General, Pop Culture, Random. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

There are currently 2 responses

  1. Nicole

    Miss Belle, don’t diss The Hills. Lauren & Aundrina totally rock. Heidi and Jen Bunnie not so much, but they are my distraction. My pseudo-reality stars need not talk about light bills, just fabulous parties,clothes and they should eat out for every meal. The Hills is a mini retreat where you can fall in a lose yourself in the riduclousness of it all.

    March 22nd, 2007 | 10:30 pm
  2. Steven Hawking

    I am not Ram Dass. But, if I were, I would say that Miss Belle has tapped in to something logical. All too logical, perhaps. You see, what Ram Dass may not know is that “real” moments have the potential to exist under the most ridiculous and absurd of situations. Although “The Hills” may be “lightly scripted” and edited for television, there is all too much “reality” in the sub-text of what is or is not said. If Miss Belle is nostalgic about Joey and Dawson, this may be too much for her.

    March 23rd, 2007 | 12:47 pm

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