Culture > Television

Rough terrain

Television | The Hills are alive with the grown-up results of poor parenting

Issue: "Big bucks ministries," July 28, 2007

When Proverbs implores readers not to "spare the rod," the implication is that children will grow into spoiled terrors without the cause-and-effect power of punishment. Enter Lauren Conrad of The Hills (MTV, Mondays, 10 ET), the reality/documentary series that films the lives of Conrad and a squad of blondes.

Conrad was previously featured on MTV's Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County, as cameras followed Conrad during her senior year of high school and established her princess status. Viewers watched the parenting habits of father Jim and mother Katherine.

After not making it at a fashion college in San Francisco, Conrad opted to move back to Los Angeles. MTV cameras have been rolling ever since. The Hills captures the exploits of Lauren, friend Heidi Montag, and others. Season three of The Hills debuted this summer.

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Each episode plays out as a variation on the theme: The girls encounter some sort of problem, they handle it poorly, and nobody saves the drama for their mama. In one episode, Heidi tricks her boyfriend Spencer into thinking she might be pregnant in order to gauge the seriousness of his commitment. Spencer gives the right answer, but admits that he's annoyed after he learns of the ruse. "Boo hoo," Heidi says. Was it ethical? "Well, I needed to know how he'd react," she says.

Another repeated storyline is the sad tendency to see dating as a cheap way to hook up. For the guys, girls of The Hills are a way to attempt to quench unchecked libido. For the girls, the guys are "arm candy"-something to make other girls jealous. "Why do we always compare guys to accessories?" Lauren asks. Heidi replies, "Because they're disposable like that."


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