Judge Brett Cullum is, like, so totally into watching a bunch of rich white kids be boring. Not.
Lo's Mom: Lo, it's not a fashion show…
Laguna Beach: The Complete First Season is a collection of eleven episodes of the reality series MTV started showing in September of 2004. It's full of beautiful people in beautiful surroundings, living in "the real Orange County." Seven over-privileged high school seniors allowed MTV cameras to follow them for six months as they prepared to graduate and leave for college. It's silly, shallow, sad, and oddly addictive.
Facts of the Case
The cast for the show is as follows:
• Lauren Conrad, nickname "LC"
• Stephen Coletti, nickname "Pretty Boy"
• Kristin Cavalleri, nickname "Slut"
• Lauren Bosworth, nickname "Lo"
• Morgan Olson, nickname "That perky Mormon girl"
• Christina Schuller, nickname "The Preacher's
• Trey Phillips, nickname "The Political Activist"
• Talan Torriero, nickname "The Himbo"
The story is:
The same channel that produced The Real World conceived and created Laguna Beach. It was MTV's answer to The OC, and aimed to "reinvent" reality television by simply following kids around with cameras and allowing the drama to unfold naturally. Someone forgot to tell them this isn't really hip or fresh, and documentaries have been around since the invention of film. The problem is the cast knew when they were going to be taped, and we never see any of them with their guard down—except for one notable drunken night in Cabo, when Kristin suddenly decides (after two margaritas) she's Elizabeth Berkley in Showgirls. A pole dance is the height of outrageousness in this squeaky-clean reality soap opera.
The best thing I can say about the show itself is Laguna Beach looks like paradise. These kids are living smack in the middle of one of the most affluent and picturesque part of the country. Screw Beverly Hills 90210, I want to be in the Orange County zip code. Odd the kids seem so squeaky clean and conservative when you consider Laguna is a pretty liberal place, despite the fact that the community is so affluent. The kids themselves are so generic and uncool, the geography easily becomes the star. These kids only care about fashion, surf, and the next party. Nobody ever expresses interest in becoming anything professional, they all just want to inexplicably move on. Nothing too dramatic ever happens, and we're left with a pretty but ultimately drab story. Nobody pukes, ends up passed out naked, comes out of the closet, gets into a fistfight, or gets arrested. Where's the high school I remember?
Still, something about Laguna Beach: The Complete First Season is addictive. The eleven episodes seem to fly by even without any dramatic revelations. It captures a time in everyone's life when you feel like you're standing still waiting for life to start. It reflects the ennui commonly known as "senioritis" perfectly. Rich, poor, pretty or not, those last few weeks in high school seem oddly quiet and drama-free for everyone around the world. California is the perfect place to just chill and wait for The Real World to finally start. With Laguna Beach, MTV has accidentally created a prequel to their most successful series.
The DVD set is as beautiful as the locale. Widescreen transfers glow and shimmer without a hint of problems. The stereo soundtrack is aggressively loud and robust. There's even an extra disc that is truly loaded with all kinds of extra footage, music videos, and featurettes. Fans of the show will be happy as clams to learn about behind-the-scenes secrets, and also finally learn how Morgan got into BYU despite being rejected early in the show. Laguna Beach: The Complete First Season is a marvelous set that offers some true value in the extras and presentation.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
This is what MTV has been reduced to? I will be the first to admit I have outgrown the channel's demographic, and have happily graduated to VH-1 so that I, too, can love the '80s nonstop. I remember the time when videos played on MTV; now it seems to be wall-to-wall reality shows starring teenagers I never could have related to. Maybe this is this generation's statement. If it is, it's sorta sad. The kids living in Laguna Beach seem to have no style of their own, listen to middle-of-the-road pop and rock, and want little more than a new Volkswagen to tool around in. It seems a poor substitute for the days when kids were just a little wilder, and determined to freak their parents out with alien fashion trends and punk or new wave music. I'd rather see videos than montages of vapid teens pining for each other while the latest Five For Fighting or Blink 182 song plays.
Something tells me the kids hid the real drama somewhere else, safely away from the cameras. They knew they were being filmed, and reined everything in to look "cool" on television, which in the end makes them look bland. Sad part is, Kristin came off the best because she seemed to stop caring the most. Her drunken night in Cabo is a series highlight, if only because I caught a glimpse of a real teenager reveling in her power to make everyone crazy. She busted the show open wide by letting go for one night. I kind of hated her bratty personality for most of the series, but she at least let us see the real her. Thankfully, MTV has jettisoned most of the original cast, and decided to let Kristin narrate the second season. Maybe in the next release we'll have something better to talk about than the pretty beach. Shake it up girl, a whole generation is waiting for you to show them that even in California teens aren't perfect.
Laguna Beach: The Complete First Season is a watchable, tepid reality show with some breathtaking visuals and a wonderful amount of extras. Fans should eat this set up. I'm far too old to see anything deep or moving in the series, but it entertained me enough. It makes a great rental if you want to see scenic Southern California, and for fans it's loaded with enough extras to make it an easy purchase.
Guilty of being a shallow pool of drama rather than an ocean of interesting developments, Laguna Beach: The Complete First Season is like your stereotypical vision of a California girl—blonde, pretty, without much to say. Problem is we know most California girls are a hell of a lot more interesting than this series. It's all posing with hardly any real moments, but at least it's pretty, and the soundtrack is full of Hillary Duff pop bliss.
Give us your feedback!
What's "fair"? Whether positive or negative, our reviews should be unbiased, informative, and critique the material on its own merits.
Other Reviews You Might Enjoy
Scales of Justice
• Deleted Scenes
Review content copyright © 2005 Brett Cullum; Site design and review layout copyright © 2016 Verdict Partners LLC. All rights reserved.