the hills season 3, episode 7, “they meet again”
September 18, 2007
[splashcast EKWP2489IM EHJF2695LL]
- easily the best episode this season. there was the exact perfect balance of things happening and things not happening.
- this episode felt different than the ones previous. it was baroque, it was the high “hills” style. almost every shot seemed to to pop with faux-reality. when lauren and jason first sit down at ketchup, they do such a crazy combination of things: the weird sitting down shoulder dancing, jason’s incredibly overtelegraphed head turn, all the facial expressions. so close to being over the top, almost self parody, but i don’t think it was. chaplin, keaton, conrad, wahler.
- what i enjoy most about “the hills” is seeing things represented on television that i have never before seen represented on television. and i don’t mean in a “giant bear having sex with a great white whale” big kind of way, i mean in the micro sense: the small gestures and body movements, the casual poses, the verbal tics, word repetitions, and vocal inflections; all the things that color the fabric of everyday existence. the hills, by foregrounding what is unnoticed, defamiliarizes it. it makes what’s completely normal feel strange, and that’s why i think it’s great.
- whitney continues to be a revelation. she owns every shot. her specialty is of course the close-up, but she’s equally adept at medium shots and wide shots (see the way she contorts her body in the medium shot on the location scout, then in the wide shot how she plays with the camera strap). my nonsexual fantasy is that there is going to be some “videodrome” moment where she does something so authentic that she just comes out of the television into my living room and sits indian style on the floor. and at first i would be startled, but then it would be “e.t.” heartwarming; i would present her with various objects (reeses pieces, a fleece blanket, a toothbrush) just to see how would react. then she would touch me on the forehead with her index finger while crossing her eyes and sticking out her tongue and i would learn to be a natural and authentically goofy person.
- the scene where lauren and whitney are at teen vogue is possibly my new favorite scene on “the hills,” surpassing my old favorite scene from season one where they ate sushi together.
- there’s some very blatant dubbing in the first scene when heidi and spencer talk about elodie. if you listen to the inflection, it’s like all of a sudden they’ve stopped having a conversation and are suddenly ESL students reading about the adventures of dick and jane in hollywoodland.
- lauren seemed to discover that she has hair in this episode. this is a positive development. she did a lot of gestures with the hair that were varied, dynamic, and powerful. the best was when she was sitting in the car with jason and she brought both hands up under her hair and sort of plumed it out, while smiling and opening her eyes wide, and i feel that the look says, “hey, i am a woman and at one point i was your girlfriend and you found me attractive and you still do because i still am and maybe i am slightly interested in you also but i am reserved about this and can only express it by doing this thing with my hair.”
- the scene at ketchup could have easily devolved into something cliché in another show, but it’s impossible when you have heidi, almost giggling with evil, saying “maybe they’re back in the movie making action” it’s such a bizarre way to phrase that! and then when lauren and jason send the obviously insulting drinks back, she says “well, that’s rude” and her tone of voice is like she actually means it, like she actually thought they were going to drink these insults and enjoy them! and lauren looking at her cellphone while sending back the drinks.
- i don’t know what was up with the weird video treatment when lauren and jason were driving home. but when the car stopped, more incredible expressions. the concluding gambit, wherein jason tugged at his left ear with his mouth open and lauren looked down slightly while touching the base of her throat and sliding out of the car, wow.
- i was talking to someone last week about how you can read “the hills” as a feminist inversion of hollywood stereotypes. it was re: the gawker piece about “the hills” as the new sex and the city. what i feel is that men on “the hills” aren’t present to be fully rounded, important characters. this is obvious; for as much screen time as they get, they’re not even included in the credit sequence. they’re tools (ha), boy toys that exist for the the female leads to use to define themselves like so much lipgloss. whatever plot points are centered around them (for example spencer “breaking up” with brody jenner) aren’t important in and of themselves but only in the ways that they affect the female leads.
- you can really see this at work in the heidi and spencer domestic scenes, which read like a flip-it-and-reverse-it parody of classic sitcoms, “i love lucy” or “dick van dyke” or what have you. spencer is the one who stays at home, who decorates the apartment, who sits and fiddles with his laptop the way women might have darned socks when socks needed darning. as heidi is getting dressed to head to the office, powdering her face instead of shaving, they talk about the position of the toilet seat. then spencer asks, in this sarcastic, nagging tone whether “we get to go to breakfast before work?” and it’s like, he should be wearing curlers or something! fantastic.
- ((obviously heidi isn’t really the breadwinner, spencer owns the apartment and everyone knows he’s sitting on piles and piles of money, that’s probably the padding for their sofa, but the hills isn’t about reality, remember, it’s about surfaces.))
- because that, the incongruity between the surface and reality, is what’s interesting. the absolute hilarious thing about heidi’s new job is that it’s not work at all, it’s the facade of work. heidi goes to the costume closet and gets dressed in her “businesswoman suit” and goes to this giant fisher price office. and her computer doesn’t really have a screen, it’s just stickers, and inside her desk drawer is a scale model of the office she is sitting in and in the chair is a barbie doll that looks and is dressed exactly like her and she plays with its hair until the bell rings and she’s allowed to go home.
- ok that last thing that was a bit much, but really. the way she interacts with her assistant…
- the scene with elodie brings me back to something i noticed a few episodes ago, in a scene that made me feel like elodie was “someone who watches “the hills” and happened to miss the season premiere, and so has to be caught up.” i am getting an analogous vibe from the the scene she has from heidi and also the intermittent shots of her sulking around the office. she hates heidi now, ostensibly because of the job, but it what it really feels like is that she has become someone who hates the television show “the hills” but is simultaneously living inside of it. kind of like a really surly greek chorus.
- there is that virtual hills thing, which i have actually registered for and am going to try, but i think what would really work is a “mortal kombat” style fighting game. the arenas would be teen vogue offices, heidi and spencer’s apartment, les deux, coffee shop, gym, beach, etc. you would have to tap out combos: for example, hitting x would flutter an eyelash and if you roll the analog stick in conjunction you roll the eye also. the counterattack would be a half smile or possibly a left hair flip.
in the player is a song called “after a lot of people” the loop is messed up but i don’t understand how to fix it, so that’s what the beginning of the song is about. the rest of the song is about the state of the aura. it is very simply built from a sample of the opening two chords of satie’s “gymnopedie no.1”. i find it weird that most of my songs are about two chords and in this song when i go to sample something, i only sample two chords even though there are an awful lot of chords in the original. i think that two chords is about all i can handle, which means i am one short of rock and roll.