song – the hills theme (natasha bedingfield)

August 13, 2007

[splashcast WIQT8863LA HMKQ3509IU]

this is a cover of the song “unwritten” by natasha bedingfield, which is the theme song to the television show the hills. i tried to sound like mark e. smith from the fall, but mostly i sound like i’m mumbling.

i am very excited about the hills season 3 premiere. i think that the hills is the best show on television. here is some writing from this time last year about the season 2 premiere.

-notes on the hills season 2 premiere

structurally, this show wasn’t as sound as normal, because it’s a bridge between two seasons and thus had to tie up the loose end of last season, Jason, with an awkward first scene before entering the actual narrative. however, thank goodness he’s gone, hopefully for good. i don’t know if I hate jason consciously because he’s a bad actor with no real command of the face or eye acting which are the basic skillset of fake-reality acting, or unconsciously, because, in the world of the narrative, he’s an asshole and he fucked with LC too much. probably both.

LC was very good as always, throughout. Whitney, though she didn’t have a lot to do in this episode, was disappointingly kind of lackluster (I’ve written around this before, but while I think that LC is the kind of workhorse of fake-reality acting, Whitney is the kind of idiot savant, who may not be as technically good or as consistent, but can sometimes out of the blue bust out scenes of incredible simulated naturalness, of fake awkard and goofy, with a randomnization that is unparalleled (as in the scene where the girls go to the sushi restaurant in the hills season 1)). lisa love showed some good force and power, a lot more talent, but, I think overplayed the “mother issues” aspect of her character’s relationship with lauren a little much.

in that lisa love scene, there’s a great, meta-line about how “lauren’s always going to be known as the girl who never went to paris,” which was just perfect. i would be interested in some more subtle, ambiguous scenes dealing with celebrity. as in, is this a fictional universe or the real world? if this is a “reality show,” which is what it’s “supposed” to be, why doesn’t fame and recognition become an issue as it does to everyone else in the world who’s been on a reality show?  how can you ignore it? although, for the sake of the narrative, and because I know this isn’t a reality show, I think you have to ignore these concerns in all but the most subtle ways or else it’s the death of the show (i think if I watch the hills aftershow, I may have more to say about this issue.)

speaking of laguna beach season three, i see one of some of the dangers that turned it so awful showing up again – namely, the tackling of a serious issue (pregnancy) and the setting up of binary oppositions (LC vs. Whitney, Heidi vs. Audrina). however, i am hopeful for the hills, partially because of the quality and experience of the lead actresses vs. the rookie cast of laguna beach season 3, and partially because the pregnancy doesn’t threaten the essence of the show.

what I mean by that is, the essence of what made laguna beach season 2 so great is that it was about rich, attractive, popular people who were completely unselfconscious and even unaware that they were rich, attractive, and popular. the death of season 3 was that it brought, with that ugly bitch who was the star, all those issues into consciousness and tried to incorporate them into the narrative (plus the cast was on the whole less talented and less attractive). while I think that the hills would be better off staying away from serious topics and remain a sort of ideal “show about nothing,” I don’t think this angle is really going to hurt things (plus I don’t think she’s really pregnant).

as much as I hate to look at someone who looks like that guy from blink 182 but with an even worse haircut all summer, i think spencer is a good character. his performance lacked a little subtlety (although it could be argued that’s kind of the point), but his lines and delivery were incredible – (“you got it, bro”, “this is life changing mexican food” “how do you not like you?” and my personal favorite, just soaking in dramatic irony in his date with audrina directly after his date with heidi, “i’ll be a team member, i got your back!”)

so the narrative center has shifted from LC to Heidi and all I can say is, she earned it. bitch must have studied with stanivlasky’s ghost over the summer because she owned every single shot she was in. she has mastered face and eye acting and is now doing some great stuff with her hands, arms, neck, and torso. so good.

and that last sequence was just fucking classic. first, we get an abrupt cut to a close-up of heidi driving alone, another signpost that this is her narrative now. then, in the store, her buying the test, which isn’t explicit at all but we just know it, because why else would she be in a convenience store alone, why would she ever be alone, she’s HEIDI, she’s the life of the party.

the visual control and economy are superb; I think the whole store sequence is done in two shots. the first shot is this kind of wide shot of her getting something we can’t see off a shelf; it’s at kind of awkward angle with some stuff in the foreground; it sets us off guard because we’re used to seeing her face, in close-up or a two shot or a careful sculpted wide, perfectly locking in to the light and the camera. It’s not like that here though. the second shot is from the front of the store; again, the camera usually puts us right there with Heidi, so close you could touch her, but now she’s being held away and it feels strange. and another great use of framing and composition, when she first walks into the apartment she immediately veers off frame to the left, when, again, she would usually step into the center.

and as she stands there, alone in the bathroom with the test, and her eyes take over, there’s a great use of an OC-ready slow piano ballad version of “girls just want to have fun,” a nice example of double-coding (or, if you want to side with David Foster Wallace, of the way that television has commodified irony, but I don’t want to side with him, so there); there is an irony to it that we’re aware of, and that recognition makes us almost half chuckle or something, but, also, it’s just kind of sad, and we give ourself over to that sadness as she closes the door. and that final shot, a slow, long tracking shot away from the hollywood sign, away from the “hills”, away from gloss and illusion but still of it, like, that is some “Chinatown” shit, that is some beautiful magic, that is why i love this show.

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