Tag Archives: the hills

When Television Gets Bad, It Gets Ugly

I think TV is like Thai food — it’s either really good, or horrendously bad.  However, unlike pad thai dripped with e.coli, sometimes I can’t tell when a show is bad.  I keep on tuning in, watching week after week, until the evil hits me straight in the face, like Chris Brown.  Afterwards, at least I can see the crap that I’ve put up with for so long. 

gossip girl 5Every bad show has a breaking point, where it turns into an abusive, sick-inducing pile of garbage.  The O.C. went downhill once Marissa became a lesbian.  Grey’s Anatomy kicked the bucket once Izzy started sleeping with the ghost of her dead husband.  And The Hills was always terrible, although it became even more unbearable once Kristin showed up. 

For me, all of these shows died at critical inflection points: lesbianism, ghosts, and annoying skankbags.  And after watching Gossip Girl tonight, I’m beginning to wonder if GG is heading towards the junkyard too.  This week’s episode featured more inbred infighting (yawn), lovechild drama (yawn), and some creepy old people singing (Sonic Youth is an ironic name for a tone-deaf band of geezers).  The teaser for next week’s Gossip Girl featured backroom gambling.  As if Blair Waldorf would ever set foot in a room with bad lighting.  Come on. 

Sometimes I feel like I know the characters better than they know themselves.  Marissa isn’t a lesbian!  Blair wouldn’t gamble!  But the TV writers come up with such creative ways to make us believe that it could work: blame it on the al-a-a-al-a-alcohol, baby.  Or, blame it on a brain tumor.  Or, blame it on the need for a blonde reality star to serve as the center of Prada-loving Satan’s attention.

In either case, I would like to bid farewell to Gossip Girl, the latest member of the bad TV crowd to show its true colors.   And just for the record, I can’t really tell when my pad thai is swimming with e.coli either.  So I suppose the analogy is better than I thought.

And on a completely random, unrelated note: if you want a stomach-turning experience, please see this terrifying Tabasco commercial with pepperoni faces.  For some reason, it really creeps me out.  I will never eat pizza again.


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Worldly Lessons in Politics From The Hills

On Tuesday night, we welcomed the return of an American institution, The Hills, to primetime television. The Hills is MTV’s long-running reality show featuring the glamorous side of Hollywood life. We follow a handful of attractive trust fund babies as they get in fights, reconcile, get in fights, reconcile, get in fights, yell at each other, and then take sides in a Cold War of icy staredowns and sex tapes.

jbobbyIf you think about it, The Hills could easily be adapted to The Hill – that is, Capitol Hill. Where else will you get dramatic backstabbing and illicit romances? In fact, there are more interesting scandals in Washington than in the valley: All Speidi ever did was accuse Lauren of hiding a sex tape. Sarah Palin accused the President of planning to kill grandma. And what’s with this new “drama” between Kristin and Audrina fighting over our favorite hobo-riche iconoclast, Justin Bobby? There are far more people fighting over that slut of a public option than JB.

For every storyline about Brody creeping on a girl, I’ll give you John Ensign and David Vitter. For every storyline about Heidi saying something crazy, I’ll give you Michele Bachmann saying something even worse (“I’m very concerned Barack Obama may have anti-American views… The kids who voted en masse for Barack Obama are the ones being fitted with shackles and chains.”) And for every storyline about The Hills having some redeeming social value?  Well, YOU LIE.


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We Love Them Rich White People

On Monday night, Republicans gathered in Minnesota to celebrate their geriatric candidate and his new minx of a running mate. However, the GOP’s grand kickoff, complete with fierce antiwar protests and exciting baby news, was overshadowed not only by concerns about Hurricane Gustav, but by another convoy of teenagers having premarital sex: the second season premiere of the racy high school drama, Gossip Girl. The CW hit, which exposes “the lives of Manhattan’s elite,” was followed by an episode of The Hills on MTV, making Monday the waspiest night of television since the days of Leave it to Beaver. And although Mrs. Cleaver may not have approved of the shows’ (and the GOP’s) rampant superficiality and gratuitous sex, she probably couldn’t help but be a teeny bit entertained… While we may loathe to admit it, the guilty pleasures of The Hills and Gossip Girl are the highlights of our week.

For those unfamiliar with either show, the basic premise is the same: we follow young, attractive girls in their formative years as they go through boys and Blahniks, helped along by an endless trust fund that finances their many exploits. Both shows have likable female protagonists (GG’s Serena/The Hills’ Lauren), shameless male villains (Chuck/Spencer), and a supporting cast that provides much of the rich-white-people drama that we love (Jenny and Blair’s bitchy feud/Audrina and Lo’s nasty-look catfights). Gossip Girl is replete with older woman scandals, best friend betrayals, and (OMFG) social class mixing between the Upper East Side sophisticates and the intellectually-inclined bourgeois of Brooklyn. The Hills maintains its intrigue with the “unscripted” drama encircling Lauren and her friends, who spend their time making appearances at clubs, “working” as peons in Hollywood, and yelling at each other.

Both shows have managed to build an adoring, slightly-obsessive fan base. We have always had a soft spot for the spoiled rich girl (Kelly from Saved by the Bell, Jen from Dawson’s Creek). With the proliferation of similar shows, like the Real Housewives series and the return of 90210, the young TV audience today has embraced the immodest lifestyles of the elite.  But even while we lap it up, the semi-serious storylines of our privileged friends almost seem denigrating to us “common” folk, who don’t drive Bentleys or summer in the Hamptons. While we may have been able to identify with Kelly or Jen, the lives of Lauren and Serena are far removed from the average viewer: most of us actually have a real job (ahem, Lauren), and most of us did not accidentally kill anyone in a cocaine binge (ahem, Serena).

The reality is, these shows are so entertaining not because we can relate to these characters, but because they represent a lifestyle that we find both fascinating and preposterous. The absurdity is what draws us in and keeps us watching. While socially conservative critics have condemned the shows’ excesses and moral hollowness, we’d argue that most viewers are discerning enough to separate fiction from reality… After all, if we’re looking for sex, lies, and scandal this week, Minneapolis is a good place to start.


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