the hills season 3, episode 4, “meet the parents”
August 28, 2007
[splashcast WEPN8649WG WNHE8948HS]
they’re trying to do too much in one episode and it shows. the problem with having audrina as a third main character and having lauren and heidi not talking and therefore not ever sharing any scenes is that three seperate story arcs have to be played out in every episode and two of the story arcs can’t share scenes at all and the end result is that there’s so much to do that things get rushed. in season two, you had two main characters (lauren and heidi) who shared the majority of their scenes, the result being that scenes could play out longer and slower and with more subtlety. it’s a shame that such an incredible performer as whitney gets a one line mention by l.c., instead of an actual appearance in the episode. i really thought this season was her opportunity to break out and i think she would have been a much better choice than audrina, but it doesn’t look like that’s how things are going to turn out. i hope she will at least appear in the next episode.
the show only really opened up (i.e. spent any significant amount of time in one scene) at the end, at the barbecue. there was some quality interaction between lauren and brody jenner and lauren and audrina. lauren continues to make interesting choices, like when she carries the motorcycle helmet back to audrina and she holds it behind her back and then yanks it out instead of just having it at her side the whole time. she also did a lot of interesting things with the inflection of her voice. a lot of pretty actresses will play ugly women or women who don’t dress well in movies and there’s always such a big deal made of it, but not a lot of women make their voices sound ugly (charlize theron notwithstanding). for me the sound of a woman’s voice is very important. this episode was also audrina’s best performance as of yet. when she wore the blue hood, it made me think of the virgin mary in old paintings. i bet there is some contemporary christian movie on PAX right now where a version of the virgin mary is a teenage girl wearing a blue hoodie. there was also a scene where heidi is sitting in the passenger seat of the suv that made me think of maria schneider in “the passenger,” but that’s a pretty big stretch.
there’s nothing worse than to see someone cry in real life and there’s nothing better than to see someone cry on television. when you see someone cry in real life, it means something important has happened and that important thing probably affects you and it’s probably bad. when you see someone crying on television, it means something important has happened and that’s good because that’s probably the reason you’re watching television, to see something important happen. some of the best scenes of the hills have featured lauren or heidi crying. in this episode, lauren and audrina both cried. lauren was better at crying than audrina, although whether this is a function of performance or editing (lauren was given more time to cry, more angles of her crying, different music while she was crying) or both, i’m not sure.
justinbobby was very good in this episode. the shtick he was doing with his sunglasses as he sat with audrina at the edge of the waves, sticking the glasses in the lobes of his ears, hanging them and letting them sway in the breeze, it was all very authentic, very natural
the scenes in denver felt bizarre. it’s because the hills is such a location specific show; i mean, it’s right there in the title: the locale (and what that locale means in socioeconomic and cultural and aesthetic terms) is what defines the show. during the denver scenes, it was like the whole landscape was a big trompe l’oeil behind them, a matte painting of an alien planet, the fields of grass blowing in the wind a sort of synthetic ocean.
p.s. what is that bizarre squealing synthesizer thing that they always use as the show goes to the first commercial break? it’s this really weird synth noise that rises in pitch and is sort of vibrato-ed until the first commercial comes up. it doesn’t fit the show at all. i don’t get it. although i am so used to it now i wonder if the absence of it would bother me.
in the player is a song i wrote called “won’t you be in a cage with me.” it is about reality television. i wrote it actually for a post i am going to write about ethics and the show “big brother 8,” although it really applies to any reality show and so here it is. my biggest weakness as a songwriter and producer is my endless fascination with overdubbing my voice en masse, as happens in the outro of this song. if i could harmonize in an interesting way, like for example my current favorite song “Kanske Ar Jag Kar I Dig” by jens lekman, where this boyz II men style harmony gets looped and then overlayed with quasi-indie-funk production and these incredible lyrics (“i saw on tv ’bout this little kid, who had a pig for a pet. his mom had once been attacked by a dog, so a pig was the closest thing he could get”) then that would be fine, but mostly i just sing the root notes over acoustic guitar.