9:58 – Disclaimer. Even though I photoshopped this, I’m not a Hills fan. But my roommate Dan is. Dan not only watches The Hills, he watches The Hills Aftershow, where a panel dissects the episode that just aired as if it’s a Thomas Pynchon novel. And now he’s watching the new Hills spinoff, The City, popcorn and all, so here we go.
10:00 – Whitney says she’s moving to New York City to “risk it all.” This is already exactly what annoys me about The Hills and its spawn. She is moving to New York City to star in her own MTV show. This is clearly a great deal, but she’s pretending she’s just a struggling career girl, living by the seat of her pants, one rent check away from moving back in with her parents. I guess she can’t really say, “I’m moving to New York City to star in a spinoff of The Hills. MTV has gotten me a fake job and some fake friends and told us all exactly what to do and say. Let’s see what happens!”
10:02 – Is “Meatpacking District” really three words? They just spelled it “Meat Packing District.” This is news to me.
10:04 – It’s definitely two words. I Googled it.
10:04 – Whitney is having a painfully staged conversation with her new workplace bestie, Olivia. Olivia is pretending she doesn’t know who Whitney is. I guess it’s an unspoken premise of this show that The Hills does not exist.
10:06 – Here is Jay, Whitney’s “boyfriend.” Dan is pointing out, correctly, that the odds that Whitney just happened to meet the perfect douchey New York boyfriend in the runup to The City are slim. Seriously, somebody has to explain the appeal of The Hills/The City in The Comments. This is every bit as fake as the WWE, but nobody gets hit with a folding chair. Sadly.
10:09 – Commercial for The Real World: Brooklyn. Tagline: “The real New York is on the other side of the bridge.” Wait, is this a dig at The City? It pretty much has to be, right?
10:14 – Question: Is Diane Von Furstenberg getting paid by MTV to be Whitney’s employer, or is she paying THEM? And either way, how much?
10:16 – Nevermind. We’re getting a big DVF fashion show montage. Took 16 minutes for this to become a paid commercial. (Yes, I realize me complaining about product placement on MTV is like complaining water is too damp.)
10:19 – Whitney is at a party, and she was just invited to another party tomorrow night. I am exhausted just watching her.
10:19 – Jay thinks Whitney’s new friend doesn’t seem “genuine.” I’ve decided that the best way to watch this show is as an elaborate, Andy Kaufmanesque practical joke played on the audience.
10:26 – They are having some kind of outdoor dinner party, while I eat leftover Chinese food. I hope they all get eaten by a Cloverfield monster.
10:28 – Meanwhile, Jay is playing pool and complaining to his bro about how clingy Whitney is. Wait, hasn’t she only been in New York for two days?
10:28 – Olivia is grilling Whitney about Jay. Jay Jay Jay…
10:29 – … and like something out of a dream, there he is. Note to self: Refusing to go to party with girlfriend and then showing up unexpectedly seems to work really well.
10:30 – So here is the plot of the first episode of The City: Jay does not want to come with Whitney to a party, but then goes anyway. That’s pretty weak sauce, MTV.
10:31 – Oh God, there are two episodes back to back.
10:32 – Whitney is meeting up with a previous suitor, Alex. He is taking her out to lunch to tell her that Jay is secretly still in love with an ex, Danielle. “I have to choose who I can trust,” says Whitney.
Goddamnit, this show is terrible, America. I’m ashamed of you all for liking this.
10:35 – Scene 2: Whitney is recapping her conversation with Alex to Erin. This show rivals Dragonball Z in its ability to fill time without advancing the plot.
10:36 – I really wish David Foster Wallace was alive to write a book length deconstruction of The City. It is so unintionally complex.
10:40 – How did I never notice that every single person in New York is lit bright orange, from the side?
10:42 – I’ll go ahead and say it. I kind of want to see Underworld: Rise of the Lycans. Is Bill Nighy in this one? (Googling…) YES.
10:45 – Dan says he’s “loving hating this show.” He declares it “disappointing, but not disappointing enough not to continue watching.” So MTV, there’s your blurb.
10:46 – Manolo Blahnik makes a cameo. Whitney is treating him like Orlando Bloom.
10:48 – Ooooh, Alex is at the same bar. Showdown with Jay! If this was Gossip Girl, one or both of them would probably get killed now.
10:50 – This is kind of a great argument. They have to argue 6 inches apart, because of the club noise, and every other word is bleeped. It’s like Mamet.
10:57 – Whitney is meeting with some woman older than 30. Over the last hour, I had actually forgotten those people were allowed in New York.
10:58 – Now she’s telling Grandma about Alex and Jay. “Maybe you can’t trust both of them,” she muses.
10:59 – Here’s a teaser for future episodes. “This season on The City…” a lot of girls complaining about their boyfriends’ behavior, and a lot of guys resenting their girlfriends. Where do I sign up?
11:00 – This Pussycat Dolls music video over the end credits is my favorite part of the last hour. Goodnight, people.
And here I thought we were on hiatus. Who knew that pop culture would keep going without us?
Yeah, I’m sorry. I sat down to answer some email and a blog post just kind of started itself.
I want to see that new _Underworld_ movie, too.
I didn’t see this episode, but it must have been pretty terrible if it made you yearn for “Gossip Girl” at certain points. I think in promos for “The City”, MTV actually said “This isn’t gossip, this is real” or something like that. If that is the case, I’ll take the beautifully stylized world of GG any day.
It’s *moderately* stylized at best. Good clothes, pretty teenagers, a few nice locations…
It strikes me that both GG and the hills are probably best watched with the sound off.
See, to me, if you’re interesting in The City, you might as well just watch Gossip Girl. They’re both fake, but GG is better-written. Honestly the pseudo-reality status of The Hills/The City just puzzles me. Does MTV expect people to believe The City reflects Whitney’s real, actual life? Does anyone really believe this? Are we supposed to be suspending our disbelief and accepting The City as real, or are we supposed to be enjoying it as we would any other scripted entertainment?
I mean, to some extent, all reality TV is a sham. I really enjoy Top Chef, in which judges eliminate people who cook the weakest dishes each week. There is a disclaimer at the end that says the judges may consult with producers in making their decisions. For all I know, they’re describing good food as bad food simply because they want a certain person off the show. But I don’t want to believe that, and so I choose to believe that the judging is fair.
But The City seems SO staged that I honestly don’t know what to make of it. I’d probably enjoy it more if it were advertised as a scripted drama. The fact that it’s presented as a documentary leaves me flummoxed.
@Belinkie: Do you think a camera person or producer left that fridge open what was it, two, three weeks ago? When the duck and pork all went bad and stuff? I really enjoy _Top Chef_.
I have never enjoyed the reality shows that are just about people in the houses they live in and stuff. Even the Ozzie Osborne show got on my nerves because those shows are about nothing but the drama. But shows where there is some sort of task, teams, etc., at least have a little something else going on, so I can watch those with more ease. Yeah, there may be drama (“Who turned down my burners! My rice is RUINED!” “You threw me under the bus!”), but there is something more to think about and something more that has to be shown in order for the premise of the show to remain intact. And I also think the douchebaggery that occurs on competition reality shows is explained away at least a little by that competition, whereas if you’re a douchebag in, say, _The Real World_, you really are just a douchebag.
Did anyone watch that Pirate reality show last year (or maybe the year before)? Done badly, but so badly that it was an exercise in hilarity.
Well, there may be some justice in the world:
@Gab- I enjoy Top Chef quite a lot as well. On the Christmas episode, it certainly wasn’t clear what caused the fridge to be hot. When Radhika and a few others walked away from the fridge, it looked open, but the shot was edited in such a way that it was really impossible to tell. It could have been the case that the contestants left it open and the camera crew just didn’t intervene, but I also wouldn’t be shocked if the producers actively intervened so as to make things interesting, and then used the resulting banding together to create a warm and fuzzy Christmas narrative. It wouldn’t be a huge stretch, given that they were already having everyone pretend that it was Christmas (even though the episode was filmed in August).
@Gab&Sheely- I definitely had some questions about Fridgegate. Put aside the issue for a moment of who left that fridge open. Are we really supposed to believe the chefs recreated three hours of prep in the 30 minutes of “packing up” time they were given? More importantly, where did they get the extra food? They were on tight budgets – no way they bought twice as much ingredients as they needed the day before. And somehow, Hosea got the win, even though he was one of the people whose meal was completely wiped out with the warm fridge. I’m sorry to say this, because I like the show and I don’t want to feel like it’s completely fake, but I feel like that part, at least, was somewhat fake.
@Sheely&Belinkie: Yeah, I thought it was totally staged, as well, which is why I asked. I mean, honestly, there just *happened* to be a bunch of extra pork lying around the kitchen? That was the part that solidified it for me. I rewatched it a while ago (almost midnight, Happy New Year), and yes, the camera angle was nice and ambiguous, and I find it a little convenient that the “victims” had enough ingredients and time- even with the help from the other chefs- to do all of the new prep work before going to the venue.
I like that name for it, Belinkie: “Fridgegate.” Have you seen _Frost Nixon_ yet?
I’ve only ever seen a couple episodes of The Hills, but I agree that the notion that the audience should buy it as reality seems to be asking a lot even by reality show standards.
My question, as someone who has very little exposure to this kind of show, is was it always like this? Back when MTV first put on Laguna Beach, was it “more real”? Or was it just as bad back then?
Alright Mr. Belinkie, you asked what I thought about The City and I finally saw it tonight even though I didn’t really mean to. Anyway, I blogged about it (http://thoseextra4inches.com/) but here is a little part I thought you might appreciate:
First of all, the name annoys me. The City? Just The City? What about Sex and the City? Is Whitey so boring that there is nothing else interesting about the show other than New York itself? Just image SATC centered around Charlotte, minus Samantha. Yawn. Have any of you ever read Samuel R. Delany’s Trouble on Triton? Really great book. If you have, compare Whitney to Bron Helstrom.
olivia is a no one. her cousin is not a socialite but a looser
Whitney you have a lot af class do not get caught up in newyork snob. Adam is twoface and trouble and a liarer
love your little blog there, you should do one for every episode….
p.s. i love top chef too, although im sure some of it is staged like when jaimi was eliminated just because her celery was salty while the brown haired chick (forgot her name) didn’t even put the right ingredients in her dish. but for the most part i think that top chef is one of the few reality shows that is pretty much actual reality