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Series / The Hills

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The Hills is a spinoff of the MTV reality show Laguna Beach, following a group of twentysomethings living in Los Angeles.

The show initially follows Lauren "LC" Conrad, one of the lead characters from Laguna Beach. As the series begins, Lauren arrives in Los Angeles, begins attending the Fashion School of Design and Merchandising and gets an internship at Teen Vogue Magazine along fellow intern Whitney Port. Lauren lives in an apartment with her roommate, Heidi Montage, and nearby tenant Audrina Patridge. Together, they try to navigate L.A.'s cultural and dating scene, meeting an assortment of residents including Spencer Pratt (Heidi's boyfriend, later husband), Brody Jenner (Lauren's former boyfriend) and Stephanie Pratt, Spencer's sister.

In Season 5, Conrad departed the show, citing that she needed to "emotionally recover" from the show's toxic elements and filming process. In her place came fellow Laguna Beach alum Kristin Cavalieri, who became the defacto lead character for the remainder of the show's run. In response to claims that most, if not all, of the show was faked for the cameras, the final scene of the series pulled a Gainax Ending, showing parts of a set being dismantled around actor Brody Jenner.

The Hills was a hit for MTV, with some of the highest ratings of any show on cable. Even though its ratings declined from its early peaks, it is still regarded as one of MTV's most popular shows. MTV Canada personalities Daniel Levy and Jessi Cruickshank hosted The After Show, which was often about The Hills and is credited with being one of the first post-show talk shows. The show was one of The Soup's favorite targets of mockery.

Two spinoff shows were created — The City, which followed Whitney as she journeyed to New York to work for fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg, and Audrina, a self-titled show focusing on Lauren's roommate. The former lasted three seasons before being canceled; the latter was not picked up by MTV, and subsequently aired its sole season on VH1.

The show was later given a Revival in the form of 2019's The Hills: New Beginnings, in which many of the cast members (save for Lauren, who declined to appear) are followed years later, having married or had children in the interim.


  • All Men Are Perverts: Brody Jenner and his posse are prone to this behavior, especially his friend Frankie. In one episode, Frankie declares that a woman will be able to go back into "his rotation" of women he dates.
  • Canon Discontinuity: The final scene of the original series, in so much as MTV actively refuses to air it again. Online versions of the ending cut the final scene off after Kristin leaves in a taxi, omitting the final shots of the set dressing being taken down around Brody Jenner, and The Reveal that the scene (and possibly parts of the series) were filmed on a backlot. The only ending currently available to view on MTV's Youtube channel is the alternate ending, which has Brody immediately visit Lauren at her apartment after saying goodbye to Kristin. Likewise, the Revival completely ignores the final shots of the original series.
  • Coolest Club Ever/In Da Club: The characters spend a large part of each season partying at local venues, particularly the (now closed) Les Deux club, where the infamous fight between Lauren and Heidi occurs in Season 2.
  • Current Events Blog: Cast member Audrina had one of these during the show's run. There were also many gossip blogs that followed the show; some of them revealed the sneaky editing and manipulated situations in both this series and Laguna Beach.
  • Fanservice: Obviously, given the women on the show, there are numerous scenes of scantily-clad women sunbathing while talking about menial topics of interest. Especially Heidi, given her feelings towards plastic surgery. (Including her desire to get breast implants the size of H-cups, "H for Heidi.")
  • Gainax Ending: The final scene of the show outright states that the show had been filmed on a backlot and doesn't answer what was real or fake, with setpieces being picked up and moved away behind Brody. Notably, this is the only scene of the series that was removed for reruns.
  • Gay Paree: When Whitney and Lauren visit Paris for a Teen Vogue event, they party at a fancy French nightclub, drink champagne at the Eiffel Tower, and attend an illustrious ball.
  • "Get Out of Jail Free" Card: The antics committed by Lauren and Whitney at their Teen Vogue internship (screwing up basic orders, letting their friends into exclusive Hollywood parties, mangling the tasks they were given) would have been enough to get them canned several times over. However, they are always inexplicably given a free pass by the managing editor of the magazine because they are reality television stars and/or it was scripted. Heidi has outright stated that her apparent party-crash of the Teen Vogue party in the first episode of the series was due to her being told to show up by MTV.
  • Idle Rich: The show generally portrays cast members as being so absorbed with their social circle that they barely (if ever) get any actual work done — though technically, the fact that they were filming footage for a "reality series" in a workplace was the job. Were it not for the fact that the show told viewers Once per Episode what the character was supposed to be doing (Lauren working for Teen Vogue, Heidi "working" for Bolthouse Studios), audience members may presume they don't actually do anything beyond show up and look pretty — which is precisely what the Reality Is Unrealistic moments above revealed retroactively.
  • Manipulative Editing: Overdubbed lines, temporal shenanigans, reshot sequences that don't match with the rest of the show... it's all here.
  • The Parody: MADtv's The Hills parody.
  • Peer Pressure Makes You Evil: Jen, one of Lauren's friends, falls under the influence of Heidi. Heidi then convinces to Jen to reject Lauren and "hook up" with Brody (who Lauren was dating at that time).
  • Product Placement: During the scenery transition sequences, the names and songs of the bands playing in the background are displayed in the lower-right corner of the screen, along with a prompt to visit MTV's website to buy the music. Cell phones (from carriers like T-Mobile and AT&T) and clothing are also prominently showcased throughout the series.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: Despite claiming that some events in the show were real, enough evidence has surfaced over the years that more-or-less confirmed the show faked most of its major events, and played up "storylines" that were written for the show:
    • According to a feature story on Refinery29, former MTV producer Tony Disanto stated that the network only opted to make Lauren the point-of-view character at the last minute, even reshooting a key sequence in the second season of Laguna Beach (the opening of the season premiere) to make the connection more apparent.
    • Most of Lauren's friends were outright hired for the series. Whitney Port was cast after taking part in an open audition for an "intern" character, while Audrina Patridge (who went to high school 20+ miles away from Lauren) has admitted she was "cast" as Lauren's best friend, having never met her before.note  Eagle-eyed viewers of Laguna Beach can spot Heidi Montag during a Season 2 episode (where the graduating class goes to the prom), but given how Heidi and Lauren had no interaction in that episode, her presence on this series may also be an example.
    • Heidi never applied for and accepted the job at Bolthouse Studios (where she "works" for the first three seasons); the producers worked out an agreement with the studios to have her come into the office and pretend to work as an intern for a certain amount of hours every week (while they filmed it). Later, Heidi outright admitted in a 2016 interview that the "Elodie gets a promotion over Heidi" storyline was a "pretend promotion for her to be upset about".
    • Spencer has admitted in interviews that his "elopement" with Heidi was faked for the cameras. They married in an official ceremony, after-hours, away from TV cameras, long before Season 5 showed their "official" wedding ceremony. He has stated he was also responsible for calling members of the paparazzi to stalk Lauren, outright referring to himself and Heidi as "famewhores". Heidi also admitted that the scene of Spencer proposing to her on the beach was also completely faked for the cameras.
    • Brody Jenner has stated that he never had a fling with Jen Bunney or Audrina, and that the storylines were completely faked. His apparent romance with Lauren was also faked, as she would later admit that they would show up for a short time to film, pretend to be romantic, then leave and not see each other for days or weeks at a time. While Lauren and Brody did officially date at one time, it was when she was 18, and the romance only lasted a few days.
    • The audience is expected to believe that Lauren lives in complete anonymity, despite showing off her apartment complex in every episode. The real-life issue of all the paparazzi who hung out in front of Lauren's (actual) house waiting for her to come out so that they could take photos of her is never brought up. Conversely, Spencer and Heidi Pratt outright admitted that they lived in a completely different part of Los Angeles, and that their "house" was faked for the show.
    • Several episodes have characters confronting (and even fighting with) each other in clubs; most notably, Lauren and Heidi's shouting match in a club midway through the second season. This incident in particular was heavily reported on by gossip blogs, and it was rumored that cops had to be dispatched to the location to keep the peace. In the show, all of these incidents are played as minor inconveniences that have no bearing or consequence on anything that happens afterwards.
    • During promotion of The Hills: New Beginnings, Whitney stated that the airport scene at the end of Season 2 was filmed for show, and that she didn't actually go to Paris (despite apparently getting on a plane to leave).
    • Lauren stated outright that she was not on the receiving end of Spencer's "I'm sorry" phone call. Additionally, she has since claimed that she was "held hostage" in the basement of a church during filming of Heidi and Spencer's wedding, and wasn't allowed to leave due to MTV not being sure if they required her for additional filming.
    • Ironically, the presence of Kristin Cavalieri (who has admitted in post-show interviews that she was cast for the final season as the Alpha Bitch) forced the show to be closer to reality than any of the seasons before it, due to her understanding (based on her prior experience filming Laguna Beach) of how she needed to act for the cameras. As a result, she would generally refuse retakes of many sequences, preferring to let the "unscripted" shots speak for themselves, and would play up certain moments organically in order to get a rise out of people.
  • Reality Show: Presented as such, but there is more evidence supporting the theory that it's scripted than there is supporting the idea that it's real.
  • Retool: The show was originally about Lauren trying to juggle school, work and romance along with her three friends (who also worked). When Kristin replaced Lauren, the show switched focus onto anyone who has ever spoken to Lauren (Brody, Spencer, Lo, Stephanie) and was no longer pretending that any of these people had anything remotely resembling a real job.
  • Serial Escalation: Heidi's obsession with plastic surgery begins to dominate the series, as later seasons start delving more heavily into her quest to get work done on herself. The producers seemed to understand this trope, as an entire episode was dedicated to the disbelief everyone (including Heidi's friends and family) expressed when she revealed her new look. Said episode also turns out to be one of the few "real" moments of the series, as Heidi's mother cries and says she doesn't recognize her own daughter anymore.
  • Spinoff: Of Laguna Beach. Also, this show has its own spinoff, The City, which followed cast member Whitney Port as she moved to New York to take on a prestigious job and hang out with a new group of friends.
  • 24-Hour Party People: The main characters are said to have busy jobs involving business deals, paperwork and other tasks, but rarely is this work shown (if at all), and the majority of their screentime appears to consist of meetings being held while in the process of finishing something else, casual meetups at various restaurants and locales throughout the city, and appearances at clubs or bars.
  • Unlimited Wardrobe: The characters routinely sport a plethora of outfits, as is befitting their status as social climbers in Los Angeles. However, Heidi has said in interviews that MTV didn’t allow the girls to rewear outfits but also didn’t give them a wardrobe, necessitating her shopping at thrift stores for her 'unlimited wardrobe' in the first season, before her income from the show allowed her this for real.
  • Unreliable Voiceover: There are several times in the series when what the audience hears voiceovers (in regards to previous episodes) that in no way accurately reflected what went on in said episodes.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: Stephen (from Laguna Beach) appears in a Very Special Episode, making an appearance at Lauren's party and rekindling his feelings for her.
  • Will They or Won't They?: Audrina and Justin, Lauren and Jason, Kristin and Brody.