Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Conspiracy on The Hills.

Last night's episode of The Hills was easily the best of the season so far. "You Did This" had that perfectly enticing blend of fiction and reality that got me hooked on the show in the first place. In order to tease it apart and then put it back together again, though, we're going to need some background information.

Audrina and Lauren have been drifting apart, and back together again, and apart, and back together again throughout the current season. And whenever Audrina drifts away from Lauren, she always seems to drift towards Heidi. If you recall, Heidi recently invited Spencer, Stephanie, Audrina, Justin Bobby, and Audrina's sister Casey to one of her work events. It was clear from the start that this was an inappropriate and unprofessional move by Heidi. So why did she do it? Perhaps because sad, lonely, peripheral Heidi was attempting to forge a new alliance within the show? My suspicions were confirmed later that episode, when Stephanie informed Lauren that "a new crew" seemed to be in the making. (That Stephanie is a wily one. She knows that Lauren will always be the star of The Hills, and she's playing the game accordingly.)

So Audrina has been spending some time with Heidi and Spencer, the nefarious masterminds behind the now classic "antagonize Lauren, create drama, get attention" maneuver. Audrina recently moved out of Lauren's house, which puts her at risk of being phased out of the show. So what does she do? She takes a page out of Spencer and Heidi's book and starts a rumor about herself and Lauren, claiming that Lauren supposedly hooked up with Justin Bobby. She frantically shares this rumor with every character on the show. (And with the media, naturally.)

And somehow, relentlessly sincere Lauren never saw it coming. She never does. In an added twist, she's painted into a corner. While it's readily apparent that Lauren finds Justin Bobby repellent, she's initially reluctant to make this point, because she is so attached to the notion that she is infallibly nice. Eventually though, she can't help but let Audrina know that she finds Justin "disgusting." And while it took Lauren a little while to put the pieces together, I think that during the final scene in the club, when she accused Audrina of being "worse than Heidi," it was evident that she had finally figured out what was really going on. Lauren's behavior would be quite overwrought if she were merely responding to Audrina's absurd accusation. But she is actually reacting to the discovery that Audrina, like Heidi, has been manipulating her in search of screen time, when all the while Lauren has foolishly considered Audrina a real friend.

Justin Bobby also seemed dissapointed by Audrina's machinations, and disillusioned about the show itself, when he remarked, "It's not just you, it's all of us." In the context of their conversation, this comment made no sense, but if they were actually discussing the fact that Audrina had made these rumors up in order to get attention, it fits, as does Justin Bobby's abrupt departure.

The interesting thing about the "antagonize Lauren, create drama, get attention" maneuver is that, while the antagonist temporarily succeeds in seizing the spotlight, it invariably reinforces Lauren as the protagonist. Nobody - not Spencer, not Heidi, and certainly not Audrina - can compete with Lauren's ability to play the victim. The reason for this is simple. Lauren isn't acting. Lauren, somehow, persists in the belief that these people are her real friends, that "The Hills" really is her life. She is truly shocked when her "friends" turn on her. What chance do Audrina's lackluster acting abilities have against Lauren's genuine emotions?

Meanwhile, Holly is learning to play the game like a pro. But unlike most of our friends on "The Hills," Holly isn't playing for attention - she's playing for her sister. It's obvious that Heidi is in so deep, the only way to save her is to do it from within the show. And her tactics are impressive. By moving in with Lauren, Holly positioned herself closer to the spotlight that Heidi so desperately craves. In last night's episode, she asked Spencer to tell Heidi that she stopped by, knowing perfectly well that he would not. Then, she went to visit Heidi, and asked if Spencer had passed on her message, again, knowing perfectly well that he had not. What a clever way to drive a wedge between them!

Both Holly and Stephanie have had the benefit of watching The Hills on television before joining the cast and thus, they have the distanced perspective necessary to play the game more strategically, like chess.

As for Spencer and Heidi... I think they are running out of moves. Spencer just doesn't have the imagination to sustain his villainous role. He's more of a brat than a villain at this point, moping around, petulantly calling people names and needling Heidi. If he were smarter, he'd make better use of Stephanie, but I actually think it's more likely that Stephanie will figure out how to use him for her own advancement.

After my brief post yesterday, I remembered this story, claiming that Spencer and Heidi had a deal with Us Weekly, promising exclusive access to an eventual staged wedding. Now that the wedding has taken place and the agreement with Us has been fulfilled, what's left for Spencer and Heidi? My hypothesis is that Heidi has despised Spencer for a long time, but was forced to continue the charade until the wedding. Now she'll be free to get a divorce and move on with her life, which will presumably be the focus of the next season of The Hills.

All in all, great episode. Just as I was starting to lose interest, it sucked me back in.


Ed said...

I had no idea most of that was going on. No wonder I thought the episode was kind of blah and boring.

Anonymous said...

I honestly felt bad for Lauren in this episode, that it took her so long to realize what Audrina was doing. I felt like Audrina was reading off a script she had written for herself, entitled 'Don't Get Pushed off of the Show' the entire episode. I don't know how any one could think she was being genuine. Though she sort of sounds like a fake shell of a person most of the time, anyways.

Jessica said...

i dunno i still feel bad for audrina. i thought she realy was being tricked by dino.

also, who is dino?!

Caitlin said...

I seriously doubt that "Dino" even exists.