The Hills: New Beginnings had its place, and it's not in 2019
Some nine years after MTV left a Justin Bobby shaped hole in our lives, the ultra-preened, ultra-privileged cast of The Hills is back.
The show is set to remind us that even the prettiest and richest among us have loser ex-boyfriends, unbearable bosses and four bedroom LA condos with pool houses too small for our roommates.
That’s right, on June 24th, Speidi, Audrina, Whitney, and everyone’s favourite combat-boots-at-the-beach-wearing lothario, Justin Bobby, will return to our screens, complete with new dramas, their own actual children, and uh, Mischa Barton?
It may be difficult to imagine The Hills – with its white-washed, blonde-highlighted, trust-funded version of Los Angeles – being made in 2019
In a time when Juicy Couture tracksuits are literally couture and TV execs are tripping over themselves to reboot TV reboots, how will the show fair in the era of Instagram, geo-tagged locations and austerity?
Sure there will be ‘oh my god I didn’t know she was going to be here’ moments, as well as social media commentary, branded clothing deals, and umpteen product placements (Blackberry handset revival pending), but what of the show’s actual content?
The 14 year old fashion worshipping, Chanel bag craving me would have been thrilled at the news, so when my resounding reaction to its return was ‘meh’, I was shocked.
Maybe watching rich people complain wasn’t entertaining anymore.
The Hills arrived on our screens in 2006, bringing with it shiny LA aspirations and meritocratic views of adulthood success.
Here were just-out-of-high-school young adults, with seemingly accessible entry-level 9-5s or internships that seemed but a well-written email away.
Sure, Lauren Conrad may have driven to her new LA life in an 06 plated Mercedes convertible, but there she was, scrambling for safety pins and double-sided-tape on the Teen Vogue closet floor – just like I’d always dreamed of.
For a generation who grew up on a diet of Paris Hilton, and an OG Obama ‘Yes We Can’ outlook, The Hills towed the perfect line between real and fake, humble but luxe, working towards something, but hardly working at all.
The show was like a guidebook for everything I wanted and was sure adulthood would provide, like a US work permit, a job at a leading fashion magazine, and a floppy-haired boyfriend called Cameron or Brody.
But pick it up and place it in 2019, and the very things that made the show so special then are the reasons it might just be unbearable now.
There was, of course, its brazen lack of diversity, which may have had viewers convinced that cast members were literally unable to find non-white friends in California, or were perhaps banned from associating with a human above a size 10, but there was also its unspoken and silenced privilege.
The cast wasn’t flying around on private jets or holidaying every weekend (in seasons one to three at least), but they were portrayed as struggling through the trials and tribulations of early adulthood, without ever really struggling at all.
Heidi didn’t worry about how she would pay her rent after quitting school and being repeatedly late for her job as a club promoter, Lauren’s housemate crisis of 2010 came when she had to share a pool and garden with her once friend (try a kitchen and a shower), and no one ever brought lunch from home.
The Hills sparked a phenomenon of glossy-lit reality television, and with its privileged cast changed the way we looked at its stars – not as people to scoff or laugh at, but as people to aspire to be.
With adult eyes, it’s easy to see the show for what it is – escapism, but for younger me, that escapism was also an aspiration, and its very specific view of beauty and success was the only one that mattered.
That’s not to say the show’s revival is a bad idea, it has a place. I just hope it comes with a huge batch of irony, self-awareness and maybe a ‘rich-parents-not-included’ disclaimer message.
How to watch The Hills New Beginnings in the UK
The Hills: New Beginnings premieres Monday, 24 June on MTV.
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