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TV Series Review

With MTV's reality show The Hills (as in Hollywood Hills), viewers follow the beautiful, BMW-driving Lauren Conrad as she leaves Laguna Beach (land of her former MTV reality show) and migrates to Los Angeles. She moves in with her equally gorgeous friend Heidi, attends fashion college and works as an intern for Teen Vogue magazine. This isn't really about higher education, but rather how she and her chic brat pack (including new pals Whitney and Audrina) are really majoring in L.A. nightlife.

Picture it. Attractive teenagers and twentysomethings dressed in trendy T-shirts and impossibly expensive jeans lounge around a table at a dance club sipping drinks. They discuss one of the age-old problems of life: actually having to get up and go to work before noon. "Some people do have full-time jobs. Crazy thought, I know," says Lauren with a serious tilt of her head and a toss of her golden mane. The well-favored hunk next to her replies, "I have a full-time job. ... I go out every night."

With that, families get a perfect snapshot of where The Hills started and where it's going. Good drama? Hardly. But anyone who identifies with this empty-headed show's amoral depiction of reality probably won't care. How out-of-touch are these people? When the fashion college dean asks Heidi about her career plans she replies vacantly, "I wanna be, like, the fun-party-PR-girl-in-L.A. type of thing." This must be reality TV. It's hard to write dialogue like that this side of an Etch A Sketch.

The show is formulaically paced, with requisite amounts of sexual banter and scantily clad beauties in every episode to keep viewers titillated. Heidi's boyfriend talks to his roommate about one of the couple's spats. "We made up," he says. "How many times did you make up?" winks the roomie with a smirk. Later we see the lovers rolling out of bed in their underwear. Another exchange emphatically suggests that threesomes are common in California.

On the topic of anniversaries in dating relationships, Lauren casually remarks, "Remember how important six months used to be? If you were in high school and you were a good girl at six months, you gave it up." How many parents will want their teens to embrace that sexual ethic?

Variety's Brian Lowry noted, "MTV is peddling a certain lifestyle and image with its reality fare, and virtually all reality shows set in Southern California indulge in cartoonish stereotypes." Do teens realize this? Or are millions of young people watching a bunch of self-absorbed personalities struggling with their vacuous but oh-so-glamorous lives and thinking, "I wish I had their worries."

Episodes Reviewed: May 31, June 7, 14, July 12, 2006

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Bob Hoose

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