The Weekly Ringer

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

Susannigans: 'The Hills' Have Eyes

3 min read

By Susannah Clark

After years of basking in the comfort that I would never share a passion with John McCain, my bubble has now burst.
In response to MTV reality starlet Heidi Montag’s recent endorsement of the Republican presidential candidate, Sen. McCain presented Time magazine with the following statement:
“I’m honored to have Heidi’s support and I want to assure her that I never miss an episode of ‘The Hills,’ especially since the new season started.”
Don’t tell anyone, but I too have succumbed to the lure of the Hollywood bimbo, and now spend my Monday nights in MTVland, where the geeks have no name.
I however, am a 19-year-old female. What’s McCain’s excuse?
John and I are not alone. According to a press release from, the third season premiere of “The Hills” that is past March was the year’s highest rated cable telecast so far, with over 4.7 million viewers tuning in.
Why, dear general public, have we bought into the shallow and fabricated lives of these “Laguna Beach” alums?
“The Hills” is often accused of “scripting reality,” that is, staging conversations and run-ins for dramatic effect. This is fairly evident not only in the overly-coincidental plot-twists, but also in the constant lack of continuity. Often the length of Spencer Pratt’s facial hair and precision of Lauren Conrad’s manicure will change from shot to shot of a single scene.
But while the LA clubbing scene may not be “reality” for most, the endearing quality “The Hills” brings actually comes from its attempt at feigning reality.
While shows like “Gossip Girl” and the late “OC” are entertaining in their over-the-top suspense, “The Hills” has no such pressure to constantly outdo itself. By claiming to be “realistic,” “The Hills” is able to get by on trivial arguments and mismatched hair-extensions. The underwhelming plot-line is surprisingly refreshing.
The reality is, even though most scenes are staged, “The Hills” has captured the shallow pettiness that young people inevitably experience in everyday life. As ashamed as I am to admit, I can relate to Lauren Conrad a lot more than I ever did to Marissa Cooper. And who doesn’t have a Spencer and Heidi-esque couple in their circle?
The authenticity of “The Hills” has nothing to do with its popularity. People watch, people relate, people are entertained, all guilty pleasure aside.
But in terms of John McCain, I’m not as sympathetic. I suppose I could come up with some sort of analogy to George W. Bush’s recent endorsement of his former opponent to the rumored upcoming Heidi and Lauren reunion, but really, it makes me uncomfortable to think about the potential next leader of the free world relating to a “Hills” character. And don’t get me started on the whole Jason Wahler/Saddam Hussein connection.
But then again, being a politician, John McCain might know a thing or two himself about “scripting reality.” Whether it’s the Hollywood Hills or Capital Hill, reality too often takes the backseat to affective intensity.