Argh, too much trash tv during exam and term paper season.
I officially ran out of "good" trashy reality tv and had to resort to watching the entire first season of The Hills on the MTV website as background noise while I studied for my history final. For those of you who don't know what this show is about, it's a spinoff of Laguna Beach, which is in turn a reality tv spinoff of The OC. The main "character," Lauren, has moved from Laguna Beach to LA and is studying fashion design while completing an internship at Teen Vogue. She has her first grown-up job, her first grown-up apartment with her friend Heidi, and the reality show basically follows her around as she goes from school to work to home to parties to clubs to restaurants. It's like The OC meets The Devil Wears Prada.
I believe that everything has some sort of educative value no matter how inane. (Or am I just deluding myself in this case?) As I watched all of these people go about their day-to-day lives, it was nice to see that being able to afford designer stuff does not equal having interesting taste. I was paying a lot of attention to what Lauren and her friends were wearing in particular. The clothes and accessories were beautiful and fit extremely well, but at the same time it was disappointing that their colour palette wasn't more varied. Everything was black, white, and denim blue, or in some sort of neutral shade. One thing struck me as particularly ironic. On the first day of Lauren's internship at Teen Vogue, she showed up wearing a gold knit tank with sporadically placed sequins and white trousers. Nothing wrong with it, pretty nice and basic. But then one of the assistant fashion editors gave her a once-over before she met the West Coast editor and told her to put a jacket on top to look more presentable; the jacket they gave her was the same corduroy Gap number with tiny brass buttons and Edwardian styling that I have, except it was mint green and not pink like mine. So there you go, living proof that you can be rich and wear designer labels and still be a bland dresser. :P
The other thing that struck me as I was watching The Hills is how the reality show medium directly affects the reality it's supposed to "objectively" depict. For instance, the show depicts Lauren as your typical lowly intern at a glamorous magazine job. At the same time, however, the level of celebrity she's attained through her MTV reality show gives her some status and flexibility. In the last episode of the season, she refuses an offer for a Paris internship to spend the summer with her boyfriend in Malibu. Now, if this were any ordinary girl who had clawed her way to a Teen Vogue internship tooth and nail, why in the world would she give up a chance to go to Paris and work on haute couture to spend a summer on the beach with her BF? That's absolutely ridiculous! Not to mention the fact that an average intern who did this would be blackballed in the fashion world as someone who doesn't take the trajectory of her career seriously, thereby seriously hurting her chances of landing other jobs and internships in the future. And how many lowly interns end up being the cover girl for the magazine they're interning at? Something seems amiss here. There's no way a potential employer, especially one with a prominent public profile like a fashion magazine, will overlook all the free publicity they're getting by hiring a girl with her own reality show. I'm not saying this is the main consideration in the hiring process and Lauren seems pretty fashion-savvy and hardworking as far as interns go, but it certainly helps.
Reality shows like The Hills affect the lives of their subjects directly and influence the "reality" being shown in another way. For any average twentysomething moving out and making it on her own, the first apartment is probably less-than-stellar and there are often budgeting and financial worries. This angle is remarkably absent. As far as I can see, these kids come from a pretty affluent background, so they might be getting money from their parents. Lauren and her friends are probably also leading fabulous lives in LA because of salaries/honorariums they've received for doing the reality shows...there's no way the standard intern/receptionist/assistant can afford all of that without a second income from somewhere!
So yeah...The Hills. Not really all that interesting for its own sake, but it certainly provokes some interesting thoughts. Has anyone else ever seen the show? What do you think?