‘The Hills’ DVDs are alive with the sound of . . .

The drama! The dream jobs! The fashion! The phoniness!

All those terms could apply to The Hills, MTV’s “reality drama” which returns to DVD Tuesday with its third and biggest season.

Guilty pleasure? You got it. Ogling babes and fashion is pleasurable, and I’m guilty, at least, for digging that. But many others take it more seriously — people who love the show and follow it faithfully and buy the DVDs. They may not be sure why they’re so devoted — they just know that they are.

Well, I can explain: The Hills feeds their need to fill their own otherwise routine lives with vicarious visions of others their own age, if not their own means or zip codes. It’s a secretive, voyeuristic, no-consequences cheap thrill, and that’s fine. Whatever floats your boat or gets you through the night. Different strokes for different strokes. Each to his or her own. Yada yada.

But once you get past that need and its feed, you must ask yourself, “What am I getting so worked up about?” Because the answer is NOT “reality drama,” which is about as nonsensical as saying “giant shrimp.” No, you’re getting worked up over a scripted show with barely-there actors shot in a mock-reality TV style yet without the winking self-awareness which Christopher Guest brings to his delightful big-screen mockumentaries. In short, you’re getting worked up over thinly plotted anecdotal stories played out by limited actors who hover more closely to the non-talents of too many real reality TV denizens than to the clear talents of actors who populate legitimate dramas and far more deserve their SAG card.

That said, I’m no party pooper, though there’s plenty of poop to scoop from them thar Hills. So if you thrive on the jive of Lauren (LC), Heidi (half of Spidey), Kelly and Whitney, don’t let me dissuade you. After all, we all need our fantasies, and the thought that these young, beautiful gals often can get whatever they want is a fantasy worth having for many femmes who don’t get enough attention, especially now that helicoptering parents have turned to younger siblings who still require TLC and slavish devotion in their college years. (Funny, I moved myself into my first college apartment and didn’t feel oppressed or unloved. Instead, I felt the opposite: Free at last! How times change.)

Yes, life’s a drag, and The Hills is a dream. Let’s choose: Drag? Or Dream? Duh. Take The Hills. Just don’t forget to take it with full awareness of what you’re being sold. A “reality drama”? No way. It’s more like just a, well, ahem, drama, to use the term loosely, and there’s nothing really real about it.

Not that this unreality condemns The Hills any more than the same claim would condemn, say, a Harry Potter film. Fantasies can take many forms, and there’s no harm in that. So sit back and enjoy The Hills: The Complete Third Season as your next must-buy DVD box set. At least it adds interviews, deleted scenes and commentaries for some episodes by cast and crew. And as for the show itself, well, different strokes for different folks, as they say, if all this gets you through the night. For others, a night with these Hills is alive only with the sound of — yawning.

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