Just what I needed — a reminder of a misguided parenting decision.
With the 10th anniversary of MTV’s The Hills upon us, I wince when I think that I let my then-9-year-old daughter Meg watch the show.
As it had become a "thing" among her pre-teen peers, we watched it together, along with Gilmore Girls, for mother-daughter TV bonding.
Both programs required some explaining of certain situations, but because The Hills was supposed to be real, I couldn’t rely on "the writers just made that up for the show." Little did I know that that line actually did apply, since we’ve all come to find out that most everything — from fights to romances — on The Hills was scripted.
My initial reaction was that it was all pretty harmless: the girls were pretty, Lauren Conrad was the epitome of "nice," and fashions — as on Sex and the City — played a major role, especially since LC and Whitney worked at Teen Vogue. Also, as native New Yorkers, Meg and I got to see the cool as well as beautiful parts of Los Angeles.
What Meg was really viewing, though, was a lot of mean girl stuff, bad choices made with guys and unfortunate job decisions.
One of my first words of wisdom to her were, "Never give up Paris for a boy, or anything" after LC blew off the business travel opportunity for a summer share at the beach with (groan) Jason, which resulted in them breaking up. There was a brief sigh of relief when she got together with Brody Jenner, but that only led to questions about why, if he liked Lauren, was he always checking out other girls?
Watching Audrina always making herself available for now-you-see-him-now-you-don’t Justin Bobby had me making a mental note to eventually buy Meg a copy of All the Rules, and the whole Speidi thing prompted conversations about the difference between someone really caring about you verses wanting to control you.
And then there were the girl fights. They didn’t just argue: they screamed at one another, in private as well as in public. Lauren and Heidi’s breakup blow-up was heartbreaking since, like Meg, I think many young girls had romanticized that as the kind of friendship they wanted. A good example of bullying occurred when Stephanie Pratt and pal Roxie confronted LC in a nightclub. Heidi & Co. did the same to Stacie the bartender. Then Kristin Cavallari showed up and started calling out people just to make her presence known.
"Let's be like Whitney" was a constant suggestion. Although she was portrayed as a bit low-key, she managed to stay out of the fray — and got to go to Paris.
Some might wonder, if I saw the direction in which the show was going, why I didn't stop Meg from watching. To put it simply, I knew that she was hooked and could easily see it at a friend's house, or view it on the internet when I wasn't around. I figured since the train had already left the station, so to speak, the best thing was to watch with her and at least turn The Hills into teachable moments to get over the mountains of crap that come with adolescence.
Before you go, watch the video of Heidi's pseudo apology to Lauren Conrad.
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