If The Real World were any real-er, Judge Brett Cullum would flee to Laguna Beach.
"Jessica, he's cheating on you! Take it from someone who used to cheat on her boyfriend. Those are signs of him cheating!"—Kristin Cavalleri
It's a world where Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton would be intimidated as they meet their clones sprawling in bikinis on the beach. A place where Kelly Clarkson and Hillary Duff songs are epic instead of simple pop. Laguna Beach is a show about beauty married with the ugliness of high school. The locale of the show is eye popping, the cast is a group of young attractive rich kids, and we follow their machinations as they back stab, date, and fall in and out of love. The first season told the simple story of a group of friends in their last semester of high school, but Laguna Beach: The Complete Second Season ups the drama considerably by expanding the cast and stumbling across more romantic intrigue than the simple love triangle at the center of the inaugural season. Are you surprised? LC or Lauren narrated the first year, but in this second round we have Kristin Cavalleri as the ringleader. She's a heartbreaker, and drama follows her wherever she appears. Throw in new stud Jason accompanied by just-moved-to-Laguna bombshell Casey, and you have a volatile concoction ready to explode all over the palm tree lined streets of Laguna. The producers figured out the show, and the kids learned how to exploit being in a reality drama. A return trip to Laguna Beach proves to be a guilty pleasure, and thankfully MTV provides a ton of extras to make it a solid DVD purchase.
I've given up trying to "judge" this show on any rational level, because it defies logic as to why the series has caught on like wildfire. Like its leading lady Kristin, Laguna Beach is unstoppable. MTV knows how to make teen reality shows (witness the granddaddy of them all The Real World), and they know their demographic backwards and forwards. The show features overpriviliged kids who have no reason to whine, but somehow they find plenty to kick and cry about. They are attractive, popular, and seem to not care much about school or getting in to college. Perhaps it's the way the season is edited, because the first year did contain stories of the kids trying to get in to schools they wanted. The cast is so uniform it's hard to keep who's who straight at the start. I can't tell one pretty rich blonde girl from the other, and I doubt many will at first. Yet by the end of this season I did start discerning names and relationships. The kids fight to find themselves, and at the same time we fight to find out who they are behind blonde manes and tans.
The widescreen television presentation is solid, and the DVD perfectly captures the awesome visuals of Laguna Beach which is filmed in one of the most beautiful cities in America. Trademark to MTV the stereo audio track is chock full of sugary pop hits as well as alternative soft rock ballads. Technically the three disc set delivers a pleasant experience. The real reason to buy the set is the final disc devoted to extras. Deleted scenes, cast interviews, memories, and featurettes devoted to behind the scenes fill out the massive amount of extras found here. It shows a lot of how Laguna Beach is made with peeks at the photo shoots, the making of the finale, and glimpses at the filming process. You can skip the highlight reels "Girls are Vicious" and "The Two Triangles" unless you want to catch an abbreviated version of the show in a manageable chunk. The audience who loves Laguna Beach will feel the same about this set. I would suggest checking out Laguna Beach: The Complete First Season before jumping in to these episodes. There is a level of continuity you need to understand the relationships which spin out of the first year even if only a handful of the original cast is back.
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