*Welcome guest Babbler Whitney Sanderlin as she reviews the queen of all reality shows, The Hills.
My first draft of the MTV series The Hills, was long and monotonous and a bit on the philosophical, mouth-full-of-werds bent. I was working the “what could possibly be Ms. Montag’s motivation” angle within this ‘scripted reality’ TV show . I still am but in a much more palatable version. I just can’t see how, especially if I’m late to “The Hills” party, I could possibly discuss the show from a completely serious POV. Trust me when I say that this draft = much better. Alright … first, my disclaimers:
- I am discussing the first 3 seasons of “The Hills” from the perspective of an almost (ahem) 34-year-old woman who hasn’t met a make-up regime or accessories that I did like.
- I am fully aware that the producers/editors/writers of this show allow us to watch MAYBE 1% of their lives. It’s probably more like .01% so I’m forming opinions based on very little information.
Ok, so the reason that I wanted to review “The Hills” after so many years was precipitated by Ms. Heidi Montag’s extreme makeover last fall. I have Netflix (i love!) at home and watched the first 3 seasons. I also had some curiousity about the vitriolic intensity with which most media outlets hated Mr. Spencer Pratt. No really, they really don’t like him. It ends up being a weird sense of morality.
I know this review comes at about 5 years too late but please bear in mind my age and lack of cable and also that I am principally evaluating Ms. Montag’s motivation for so many surgeries so in that case I’m only 9 months too late, instead of 6 years. And whether we think she looks like a Barbie doll or a science experiment is irrelevant to the discussion (I think).
Ms. Montag starts off as just about any other college student with a roomie and a job. I didn’t start the Laguna Beach season which introduced her but I have to believe that she was even less LA’d back then. I refer to “LA’d” as a concept of beauty and success that I cannot understand. The pressure of being more beautiful than every other human being on the face of the earth with better stuff, better cars, more money and more life drama is based on a reality that I will not understand ever, I hope. Throughout the first 3 seasons, you can see Ms. Montag’s progression of make-up application, boob size and drama which culminates in Season 3 with the apartment and Spencer and break up of her friendship with Lauren Conrad. While we see probably less than 1% of their lives, I can’t imagine that Mr. Pratt was not at least an indirect cause or catalyst for her negative self-image. I place most of the onus on Ms. Montag herself. She is 21-years-old by Season 3 and she is a grown up by anyone’s standard. She could not have allowed herself to be “LA’d” without buying into an image that Hollywood presents (and dare I say we demand?) as perfection.
I am baffled at how such a pretty girl could make such a wholesale change of her appearance. But any sympathy I could have had went the way of her good sense. Throughout the seasons of “The Hills” you can see that she loses friends, along with any grounding influences, and replaces them with her desire for perfection, as defined by the town in which she lives. Ms. Montag had no boundaries anymore by which she could gain perspective. Let’s face it, we all lose perspective from time to time. Imagine, if you will, how difficult it must be for her to gain some. But her life and her perspective are not beyond redemption; nothing is impossible for God.
All these opinions are based on the assumption (and you know what happens when you ass-u-me) that the less than 1% of their lives we actually do see is a representative sample. I can’t speak to the most recent 3-4 seasons as I have *heard* that the show becomes pretty scripted. But even if the show is not a representative sample, I think we can safely make the following conclusions:
- Mr. Pratt is amazingly good at manipulation. Like, on the Olympic level good. Like GOLD MEDAL Olympic good.
- Ms. Montag was once close her family and friends who cared about her and then she met LA and Mr. Pratt.
- Ms. Montag has had a LOT of surgeries, including but not limited to the 10 last fall.
- Ms. Montag once claimed an association with Christianity.
Now she carries around a rock. No seriously.
I think it would be impossible to remain objective about … well anything for that matter. But I know I carry with me the idea of who Ms. Montag could have been and the good she could have done with her fame and there is a certain grief for me when I see what she has become. I believe that MTV has done a tolerable job in portraying the lives of people that are not necessarily living on the same planet as we are but … which at one time were real people. The high for me would be the series as a whole making the philosophical conclusion (be it intentional or not) that has to come from watching rich and beautiful people NOT be happy. The low was wanting to strangle people for being human. I need to work on my compassion.