TV Preview

MTV Beach Bunch Gets a Taste of Reality in 'Hills'

From "Laguna Beach," Lauren enters the so-called real world, the offices of Teen Vogue, on MTV's "The Hills." (Mtv)
By John Maynard
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Apparently, there's, like, way too much drama in the lives of the young, rich and spoiled on MTV's "Laguna Beach" to keep bottled up in just one show.

Hence the spinoff "The Hills," the network's newest unscripted drama, debuting tonight. Our pouty heroine, Lauren Conrad -- or "L.C.," as she's known by the "Laguna Beach" devoted -- leaves the privileged life in Orange County for the real world, at least by Hollywood standards: fashion school and an internship at Teen Vogue magazine.

The spinoff is stylish, mindless and easily devourable. In other words, "Laguna" fans can safely put out the rallying call: "Run for 'The Hills!' "

Lauren might have moved northward, but she quickly surrounds herself with the same types of characters who make "Laguna Beach" so delicious to watch. We only glimpse her newfound friends in the pilot episode (a mere 20 minutes without commercials), but it doesn't take long to see she's in with the advantaged types who have way too much time on their hands.

Oh, how we love to hate them.

Heidi, who made a few appearances on "Laguna Beach," is Lauren's new roommate. Although technically she is enrolled at the same fashion school as Lauren, most times you can reach her poolside. And in an interview with the school's admissions director -- which should be used by employment agencies everywhere as an instructional video on how not to interview -- she says her goal is to work in PR and be a "fun party girl."

Aim high, young woman.

We also meet Brian, who over dinner and drinks gibes his friends as they bemoan employment: "Hey, I have a full-time job. I go out every night."

Also in the pilot, Lauren's friends promptly get her in the doghouse in her first days on the job, as they drunkenly crash a Teen Vogue party.

"The Hills" adopts the same appealing cinematic flair that makes "Laguna Beach" so stylized. Each "unscripted" scene is buffed and polished -- and seemingly well planned by creator/executive producer Adam DiVello.

Of course, that calls into question any of the spontaneity that might occur. And some of the older characters seem well too aware of the camera, including Lauren's tough boss, Teen Vogue West Coast editor Lisa Love. She looks uncomfortable as she interviews Lauren for the internship and wanders somewhere between acting and being herself throughout the episode.

That is not a problem, however, for L.C. and her like-minded friends. Having grown up on a steady diet of reality TV, they know how to act in their own real world.

The Hills (30 minutes) debuts tonight at 10 on MTV.

© 2006 The Washington Post Company