Today I have been trying to understand MTV's smash hit series The Hills and its equally bewildering sibling, The City.
For the blissfully uninitiated, The Hills follows the lives of hip young things living in LA, while spin-off series The City documents the move of one of the things to New York to work for a fashion designer. Now, you ask, what's so hard about that?
Firstly, WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE? They're actors, right? The premise is that both shows are reality TV, but this is patently untrue. Each episode is packed with drama, heartache and a suspiciously neat story arc, like a serialised chapter of a Dickens novel only with high heels, beach parties and rows over the layout of Teen Vogue. Whereas if it actually were reality, each episode would be packed with searching for keys, arguing with customer service hotlines and walking into a room and forgetting why you were there.
So which is it? The best explanation I can find comes from (where else?) Wikipedia: "the cameras follow [characters] daily and capture whatever unfolds." OK, so it's reality. Oh, hold on - there's more: "There is 'structure' provided to the program, as real life develops day-by-day and most dramatic events generally occur while being filmed."
Bear in mind that this is the best explanation I've found. WHAT DOES IT MEAN? What the hell is meant by "structure"? Structure like a storyboard, script and director? Because that's not really "structure", I'm afraid – that's "how you make TV shows."
Wikipedia also explains that one hip thing has confirmed that she is "joining the cast" and "has inked a deal with MTV to appear as a series regular throughout two seasons." How can you 'sign up' to appear in someone's life? Did she have a bit part as a passing acquaintance, only to act so deliciously and indispensably that the producers demanded the cast befriend her? God, I hope she knows. We don't want her going all Truman Burbank on us and flipping out when she finds it's just for the cameras.
And what about this 'job' business - does the City star actually work for the fashion designer? Did she get the job on merit? How close were we to having a series about a spin-off Hills character who spends all day flipping burgers or photocopying? And does the designer not get a bit ticked off with her employee's constant breaks for angsty Dawson's-style summits with her on/off boyfriend, explosive latte-fuelled clashes with bitchy rivals, or requests to be promoted as this season's storyline kind of counts on it?
I DON'T UNDERSTAND. And yet everyone is very excited about these shows and Heidi and Holly Montag are apparently very important people and don't you know, it's like reality but like also really cool? DON'T YOU GET IT? Sadly I do naaaht. So I'm going to pretend it doesn't exist, sit under a rock and wait for The Apprentice to come round again.