Cultural Value of The Hills

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The hills is one of the most addictive/hated/beloved/vapid/influential/successful television series of our time- who would have thought that a spoiled girl from Laguna Beach who’s vocabulary was mainly dependent upon the word “like” would become one of our generation’s most poignant icons? Some would even go as far as to say that The Hills ”is almost becoming like a novel at this point, like this generation’s A Tale of Two Cities or Oliver Twist.” But do we really want this bitch fest filled with drama queens and spoiled divas to become the defining popular culture phenomenon of our time? Even in the new golden age of television, Entertainment weekly has ranked The Hills number 82 on its list of “The New Classics: The 100 best shows from 1983 to 2008” (may I also mention that it beats out Mad Men, which ranks 92 on the list?). Either the entire Entertainment Weekly team was on crack when writing up this list, or we are seriously underestimating the cultural value of this seemingly tasteless series.
The Hills is MTV’s highest rated series, yet one of the most widely bashed shows, which only proves that watching it has become one of our nation’s guiltiest pleasures. Is it the tumultuous relationships between Lauren, Heidi, Audrina, Whitney and their many men that keep us hooked (or repelled)? Or perhaps it just embodies our millennial attitudes and desires for fame and fortune. No matter our motivation, at the end of the day we will always love to hate The Hills.
However one thing Hills haters can’t bash is the unreality of its “reality” format. Its contrived design is not so much scripted as it is what one producer would like to call, “Scheduled reality.” Lauren and gal pals are not told what to say, but they are, however, required to submit summaries every Sunday giving the producers a rundown of the major weekend drama so that the camera men know who to follow and where to go. So we are hating on the hills for the one thing that gives us the most pleasure- its non-coincidental capture of intimate moments, girl fights, relationship drama, and messy drunken hook-ups. We watch this for the same reason we buy OK! Magazine each week- As human’s we are inherently social creatures, and who doesn’t love indulging in some juicy gossip with coworkers at the water cooler (even if it is on Heidi’s plastic surgery)?
As shameful as it may be, The Hills, is an important cultural phenomenon because it creates a common ground for people to unite on. All the haters gather together and create a dialogue filled with reasons to hate the hills, they may be hating, but they’re sure as hell social while they do it. Fans gather together to watch the episodes, to chat about the diva showdowns and to sympathize with its characters, creating a community with a common bond and identification. And for the people that couldn’t care less about the show? They share “being out of the loop.”

Check out Entertainment Weekly’s list of the top 100 shows over the last 25 years. Their picks may surprise you. http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,20207076_20207387_20207339,00.html

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