The Hills: Alive with Lies, Lies, Lies!

By Elaine Liner Archives
Cover image for  article: The Hills: Alive with Lies, Lies, Lies!

Now we learn that the feuds and fashion jobs of MTV’s The Hills are a big fat fake. Star magazine and various media bloggers, including Reality Blurred, are reporting that the show’s “stars,” Lauren Conrad and Heidi Montag, are secretly friendly.

"I think Lauren and Heidi made a secret pact not to tell anyone," an unnamed source tells the tabloid.

So these ditzy blonds are not quite as dumb as we thought they were. Firing up their phony “frenemy” act—started when Lauren warned former roomie Heidi that Heidi’s boyfriend Spencer Pratt was a pig-- they’ve ridden their MTV “reality” show for three seasons.

And guess what else isn’t real on this reality show? Lauren and her current roomie, Audrina Patridge, apparently live in those Hollywood condos only when the cameras are running. And Spencer and Heidi actually reside with his parents and not in that arcade-game-filled apartment we see on the show. Lauren’s recent date, model Gavin, told another column that his date with her was all a set-up. He’s gay! Also, it seems that Heidi’s job at the party-planning company is another fiction. Talk about featherbedding.

Next they’ll be telling us that Whitney Port, Lauren’s boss at Teen Vogue, actually is played by Katherine Heigl.

So who’s surprised by these revelations? Anyone? Anyone?

What isn’t fake about TV these days? The FEMA press conference about the fires in Southern California? That was fake. The FEMA chief planted his own employees on chairs and called on them as if they were actual journalists. Sort of like a Bush press confab if only Fox reporters were present.

The audience reacting in shocked “oooohs” on the rerun footage showing Marie Osmond fainting on Dancing with the Stars? Another post-production fix. On the live show, the crowd thought she was clowning and they laughed.

Fake news is the new news. A Harvard Institute of Politcs study called Jon Stewart the “new Walter Cronkite.” The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, full of satirical “truthiness,” are at the forefront of made-up infotainment, reveling in their own fake reporting. (Again, see Fox News for more examples of this, but without the humor and self-awareness.)

The esteemed Columbia Journalism Review recently chronicled the history of fake news, going back to bogus front-page stories such as the New York Sun’s 1835 “Great Moon Hoax,” which reported that a powerful new telescope had seen winged yellow creatures gamboling all over the lunar surface. People believed it. The series of stories sent the Sun’s circulation to new highs and even after the story was revealed as a fake, the paper stayed popular with readers.

Faking it works. We watch anyway. And want to believe.

The Bachelor never marries the girl who gets the final rose, but we keep watching. The geeks don’t get more popular after Beauty & the Geek no matter how much we want them to go from Poindexter to Dream Date. The pouty skeletons who are dubbed America’s Next Top Model never live up to the billing, no matter how many times Tyra Banks tells us and them they will.

Talk shows fake the badinage between host and guests (it’s scripted and rehearsed, if you didn’t know). Whole panels of hosts fake their bonhomie (The View seems to be a next of vipers except on camera). Dancing with the Stars tried to pass off Cheetah Girl Sabrina Bryan as something other than the professional dancer/choreographer she was. You think we didn’t notice she could dance like a pro? (Bravo to the viewers for nailing that bit of fakery by voting her off.)

Remember The Big Donor, a Dutch TV show that was seeking a kidney donor? Give that one an F for Fake, too.

Examples are legion. What’s rare are honest-to-goodness real glimpses of reality on the tube. Except for the documentaries by Frederick Wiseman, seen too rarely on PBS, and C-SPAN, are there any?

TV doesn’t trust reality--too many chances for things to go wrong. And the wrongest thing of all would be for TV to get real.

To Lauren, Heidi, the rest of the fake-smiling, fake-loving, fake-fighting, fake-working girls and boys of The Hills and all of MTV’s reality lineup, a toast! You’ve pulled another one over on us. Pass the near-beer and don’t hog the remote.

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