Friday, January 2, 2009

Whitney Leaves The Hills for The City

I've mentioned this before, but I'll say it again for good measure: I don't enjoy The Hills. I was never too interested in Laguna Beach, and when I did watch it I rarely paid any attention to Lauren, it was all about Kristin in those days. So, naturally when Lauren headed to L.A., I turned to VH-1. Still, I'm fairly familiar with a majority of the show's storylines, based on pure entertainment news coverage alone. In five seasons, I've probably seen just two episodes, but could tell you more about Spencer and Heidi than I could some members of my own family. My consciousness has basically been violated by The Hills, and I suppose that my instant interest in The City is my inevitable act of submission.

City star Whitney Port is probably the one character person from The Hills who has kept a low enough profile to remain relatively unnoticed by those not too familiar with the show; so unnoticed that when I first heard of The City I had to promptly tune into The Hills to familiarize myself with her. Luckily enough, I found Whit just in time to see her interview with fashion mogul Diane Von Furstenburg and then announce her departure from one primetime slot, for another. This week I reluctantly showed up for Whitney's east coast arrival and, to my surprise, I might just hang around for the rest of the season.

On paper life in the city is more or less the same as it was in the hills, with one noticeable difference: Whitney is considerably more interesting than Lauren. Actually, they're both sort of boring, but at least Whitney has the whole wide-eyed and innocent angle going for her. Lauren is nice enough, but that's about it; not especially witty or engaging, just mild-mannered, pretty and inexplicably famous, where Whitney is less the celebrity, and by trade, more personable. This makes the working-girl approach of both shows much more effective on The City because the lead is infinitely more convincing in the role.

Outside of Whitney's charm, The City has, well, the city going for it. Everything is more interesting in New York, even stale conversations about pre-mature relationships (seriously, where the hell did Whit's randomly Australian love interest come from, and why does he look like Adrian Grenier from HBO's Entourage?). New York gives the show a refreshing urgency that hasn't ever been present in the excessively indulgent pace of The Hills. The show is still about absolutely nothing, but NY has enough substance to compensate for that, at least for awhile.

However, like its companion show The City is far from perfect. I will never understand how these girls manage to live in major metropolitan cities, and still fail to encounter a single person of color…like, ever. If anyone were to question if lack of diversity on television was still a relevant issue in 2009, they'd have to look no further than shows like The City, which claim to depict reality, but do so on such a limited scale that it becomes painfully obvious that popular media still has a long way to go in terms of reflecting the actual reality of America. Elsewhere, a decent chunk of the show's premise seems to rely on a whole uptown/downtown, hipsters vs. socialites beef that is so Gossip Girl I could vomit, and Whitney's co-worker/obvious-future-frenemy Olivia is so randomly vacant that she and Audrina have to be at least distantly related.

But, whatever…The City is perfectly suited for its Monday night timeslot, when I don't have shit else to do but homework for Tuesday.


Meanshots22 said...

lol. im the same way. i didnt watch the hills that much but it wasnt that hard to follow the story line. ill prolly watch three episodes of this show before it becomes old news.

Ondo Lady said...

I watched it. No let me correct that, I got my good friend to DVD record it as we were out that night. Don't asked me what happened as I have no idea aside from the fact that Whit started a new job at DVF, hooked up with a guy and went to some dinner party hosted by this socialite, Olivia apart from that nothing much happened. But I liked it anyway and will be watching next week. I also like The Hills although Lauren annoys me with her constant drama and much falling out with friends. Seriously, she goes through mates like I go through lipgloss. Great blog.

Annie said...

There was a Rolling Stone article on The Hills that talked about how the show's producers screened and interviewed The Hills 'cast' members before they actually met Lauren (if they didn't know her already). Could have something to do with how they never run into any people of color...