MTV // 2007 // 247 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Ian Visser (Retired) // August 15th, 2007
Life in the Hills is no day at the beach.
Envy Lauren Conrad. With a job at Teen Vogue, a full dating schedule, and a busy social life, the girl is making her mark on Los Angeles. A posse of girlfriends at her side, Lauren continues to navigate the urban jungle looking for success, love, and happiness.
Lauren Conrad first garnered attention as the "good girl" on MTV's sun-and-sand teen reality show Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County. After high school Lauren (and MTV) moved from Orange County to Los Angeles to begin an internship at Teen Vogue magazine and attend fashion school. Complicating matters was Lauren's two-timing ex-boyfriend Jason (Laguna Beach), who also moved to L.A. and subsequently convinced Lauren to rekindle their relationship.
At the conclusion of the first season of The Hills Lauren faced one of the biggest choices of her life. Turning down a chance to spend the summer in Paris for the magazine, Lauren instead opted to join her boyfriend Jason in a beach house. As the new season begins, has Lauren managed to find happiness with her beau? And will refusing the Paris opportunity have any repercussions for her career?
MTV presents all twelve episodes from The Hills: The Complete Second Season on a two-disk set, with a third disk of bonus features. The episodes include:
Out With The Old...
When You Least Expect It
The Best Night Ever
Who Do You Trust?
One Big Interruption
You Have Chosen
With Friends Like These...
Enough Is Enough
New Year, New Friends
Apology Not Accepted
Goodbye For Now
If The Hills: The Complete Second Season can be summed up in one phrase, it's this: the more things change, the more they stay the same. Despite the exit of a major character and the inclusion of several new ones, the show continues to tick along as a not-so-real look at life and love in L.A. The changes to the cast of The Hills for this second season include:
* Jason is out. The O.C. "bad boy" finally gets kicked to the curb by Lauren, relegating him to low-end reality dating shows and C-List celebrity status.
* Spencer and Brody are in. Two "players" with no visible means of support, the girls will learn that most Hollywood men in their early twenties only think about one thing: getting on a TV show to become famous.
* Emily the evil intern appears. Tall, dark, and Connecticut-born, Emily is the Teen Vogue intern from New York City. She is also everything that Lauren isn't: knowledgeable, determined, and capable. Naturally, she immediately becomes the de-facto villain.
* Jen Bunney. One of Lauren's oldest friends, Jen gets plenty of face-time this season. It's largely because she is a two-timing backstabber who likes to stir up trouble, but hey, face-time is still face-time, right?
Despite these developments, things are still largely the same in Lauren's life. By day, she toils in the offices of Teen Vogue under the watchful eye of super-strict editor Lisa Love, an island of maturity in this ocean of unchecked adolescence. By night, she hops from club to club, trying to keep her love life under control while maintaining friendships with BFFs Whitney, Heidi, and Audrina. As in the first season, viewers get plenty of access to the quartet as they shop, eat, and sunbathe, their conversations inevitably turning to the various guys who jostle around them for both attention and screen-time.
Whereas the plot of The Hills initially focused on Lauren's entry into the world of fashion, the work and school aspects of the show have now been largely been abandoned. The second season of the show instead relies on the cast's personal and romantic relationships for tension and drama, which is ultimately something of a let-down. Romantic or otherwise, so little effort is invested into these pairings (and the show appears so heavily scripted) that there is no real interest as to whether or not they will succeed. If Spencer or Brody get booted we know that MTV will simply import some other fame-seeking drone as a romantic interest, and if any of the girls friendships fall apart it simply becomes more fodder for the show's editing staff.
Despite two full seasons of this show, it appears that nobody in the cast has yet managed to learn anything about themselves or why their lives are in such a constant state of disarray. Everyone continues to make the same bad life decisions over and over, while reassuring those around them that -- whatever it was -- this really was the last time it would ever happen. Well, don't believe it, folks. The women of The Hills continue to chase cute but unpleasant guys while the men (a term I use with some hesitation) continue to take advantage of the women, all the while crowing to their "boys" how well they have them wrapped around their fingers. It also appears that despite the constant flood of tears and consolations, the people in this crowd aren't actually that interested in being friends with one another. During various emotional crises (pick one), the person doing the comforting will inevitably nod and console the victim, but it remains clear that everyone is just going through the motions of what a friendship is supposed to constitute. How much attention can you really spare someone when the new club down on Hollywood Boulevard has got you on the guest list?
On the schaudenfreude front, the biggest change in The Hills: The Complete Second Season is with Heidi. Whereas in the first season Heidi's proclamations of her inevitable success (and her inability to identify mocking co-workers) were downright pleasurable, there seems to have been something of a change this time around. Heidi appears less like an L.A. glamour queen and more like a sad little girl, one who is saddled (once again) with a sleaze of a boyfriend willing to manipulate her for his own good. Heidi's inability to understand her place within her own world has changed her from being a laughing stock to an object of pity, one that I actually feel sorry for now. Where I once rooted for the shenanigans which plagued her to continue, I now hope that she will eventually learn from her mistakes and get off the "loser boyfriend" express as soon as possible.
And "loser boyfriend" is a class all to itself on this show. I've never been to Los Angeles, but if the men of The Hills are representative of the guys that women have to deal with out there, they can keep them. Not so much men as over-grown children, the male aspect of the cast are the kind of big-talking, look-at-me types that use "party" as a verb and exist solely to prove how "Hollywood" they are to one another. Flush with their parent's money and absent of any responsibility, the men of The Hills are as vacant and selfish as the women, albeit with lousier taste in jewelry and fashion. Chief amongst these are Spencer and Brody, two lunks with no jobs and a desperate need to be "famous." These two are the worst kind of people, sleazing about for any kind of fame and willing to exploit anyone in order to get it. If you have any doubts as to the character of these two, check out the recent Details article in which Spencer contemplates selling a sex tape he made with Heidi, or their admitted attempt to get Brody into the news by having him date Nicole Ritchie (The Simple Life) and getting her to eat something. Classy, dudes.
MTV continues to hit home runs with the technical aspects of their releases; this is undoubtedly one of the best-looking television releases to date. The anamorphic transfer is near-perfect and the show's bright palette of colors is represented well without any visible flaws. The pop-oriented soundtrack is clear and crisp, and the dialogue is only muted during loud club scenes, when sub-titling is helpfully provided. As with the first season, the packaging is also worth noting, as MTV has again provided fans with some gorgeous artwork and photos for this release.
Fans of the show will be glad to see that, as in season one, MTV has blessed this set with a plethora of extra content. There is an entire disk of additional material here, including:
Deleted Scenes: Forty-three minutes of fully finished scenes cut from the original broadcast. The deleted scenes appear to be presented in chronological order, although there is no information as to which particular episode each is taken from. Nothing of great consequence is included, but fans will be glad to get more gossip sessions and outtakes that range from a few moments to several minutes each in length.
The Hill Remixes: Sourced from MTV's The Hills Aftershow, these segments edit existing footage into humorous vignettes that make fun of both the show and it's participants. There are a few laughs at the expense of the cast here, but with seventeen segments back-to-back the effort wears thin after a few minutes.
Virtual MTV: The Hills: For those who want even less reality in their lives, MTV highlights it's online version of The Hills, where fans can create a character and interact in environments seen on the show. This feature is essentially just advertising, as the show's cast creates their own avatars and chat online with fans.
Previews: Previews for other MTV shows available on DVD, such as Laguna Beach, My Super Sweet 16, and more.
Cast Interviews: Cast members Whitney, Audrina, Heidi, and Lauren each sit down for a talk covering a variety of topics related to the show. Each interview is approximately ten minutes in length and acts more as a venting session for each girl than an actual discussion. It's best to watch all the episodes before starting on this segment, and there is often little reference to any particular event besides a title card.
Featurettes: Two brief featurettes detailing a photo shoot for the DVD art and the season 2 premiere party.
Cast Commentary: Essentially a collection of gossip sessions, the cast commentary feature puts two-girl combos together to address some of the show's more scandalous events. Audrina and Heidi (4 scenes each), Lauren and Audrina (9 scenes each), and Whitney and Lauren (8 scenes each) all get a go at various scenes from the show, resulting in a surprisingly vicious bunch of recordings (the word "bitch" pops up more than once). These commentaries are best viewed after the entirety of the show has been watched to ensure proper context (so you'll know why someone is being called names.)
This is the second season I've reviewed of The Hills; the first time I took the show to task for its worship of a consumer culture that MTV has become rampant in both creating and promoting. The show was empty, boring, and full of people who would be unable to care for themselves if dad didn't top up their chequing accounts each month. This time around, what more can be said? I could continue to rail against the show, but it wouldn't do much good. Up against an MTV juggernaut that assaults young people with shows like My Super Sweet 16, Laguna Beach, and Maui Fever, there isn't much that a 33-year-old guy from Canada can say to convince kids that there is more to life than a good tan, oversized Gucci sunglasses, and a new BMW.
Like a shiny apple with a rotten core, The Hills: The Complete Second Season is pretty to look at but tastes awful after a few bites. MTV continues to offer the public the equivalent of mental pablum, and somebody out there keeps lapping it up. I wish I could say that the show is harmless and that it merely presents a few hours of mental escapism. But when a show is targeted at a demographic so easily persuaded to adopt whatever message is aimed their way, there should be more being considered than just the cross-media marketing opportunities and ratings.
A repeat offender who refuses to clean up their act, the defendant is found guilty.
Review content copyright © 2007 Ian Visser; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 247 Minutes
Release Year: 2007
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Deleted Scenes
* The Hill Remixes
* Virtual MTV: The Hills
* Cast Interviews
* Cast Commentary
* Official Site