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The Hills Season Finale, or, why life in America has become the Truman Show

Qualler touched on the season finale of The Hills: How much longer can they keep this up? And really, how much longer will I keep watching? (Forever is the correct answer to both those questions.) I’d like to discuss not only the spectacular hour-long wedding season finale, but the scads of MTV follow-ups to the finale. One follow-up specifically featured clips from the show and characters from the show commenting on the finale, the show, and other characters. I’m uncomfortable with how self-aware these characters are.

In an MTV special, characters commented on the wedding and on the episode as if they were really just actors commenting on their characters. It was weird. Brody Jenner even said that when Heidi and Spencer have kids the kids will come out with flesh colored beards. Really? Does Brody watch The Soup? Or has “creepy flesh-colored beard” just become a household phrase? Either way I feel uncomfortable. Spencer’s sister, Stephanie, said that they will always be famous, and that their 15 minutes of fame will last forever, and something about world domination. I don’t get it—why can you laugh at Heidi and Spencer, Brody and Stephanie, as if you were VH1 commentators laughing at videos from the early 90s? These are the people you spend all your time with! Or are they characters in the show? It’s so strange. It’s like watching Brenda from 90210 being interviewed about what Donna and David will do next season. But she isn’t Shannon Doherty, she’s Brenda. Aware that her life and the lives of her friends are just a big soap opera that everyone watches and that she can step outside of and comment on. I remember when The Truman Show came out and how “shocking” it was for some people (ok, "some people" may just have been my dad, and "shocking" may just mean we have to discuss it at dinner every night for several weeks). Well, we’re living in the Truman Show, only instead of things being contained in a studio built to look like the real world it’s happening IN THE REAL WORLD. Why aren’t we freaking out about this? There is no “studio” anymore! We’re all just living in a giant MTV studio. Ahhhhhhh!

But, I digress. The Hills is really warping (more than any shows before it) that line between reality and all that lies beyond. It’s also strange how The Hills is both news and a TV show. Because the show doesn’t air in real time, US Weekly is constantly spoiling what will happen on the show because, in addition to being plot line, it’s just good celeb gossip. Again, this makes me upset and confused—is it a soap opera or is it real stuff that’s happening? If there’s a show dedicated to telling me what happens in certain manufactured celebrities’ lives, why would I want to read about the same events in US Weekly alongside Brangelina news??

I really enjoy watching The Hills. Why, you ask? I'm not totally sure. I think it's the same reason I really enjoy watching 90210. For me, this is not reality television. These characters are not real (and I don't really think they are but that's a different blog topic) and it's just the same as any other scripted drama, just produced slightly differently. And the acting is slightly (slightly!) worse than usual. But when the characters break their fourth wall and comment, as human beings, on their own show...that's just too much for me.

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