The Hills is over, and the final scene of its otherwise-tedious finale might be its best achievement yet, a tacit and final acknowledgement of what we've all been thinking for the past four years. Oh Em Gee. began with The Hills, and I'd be remiss not to talk a little bit about its ending no matter what it was--but I'm glad the series went out on such a brilliant, side-smirking note.
I haven't watched any of this season, nor most of the last, but The Hills is not a show that punishes that sort of lax viewing. Really, every episode is the same, with a handful of broad sea changes taking place over the past six seasons. Each relationship has ups and downs that last an impossibly long time: Lauren and Jason, Lauren and Brody, Kristen and Brody, Audrina and Justin "Justinbobby" Bobby, Heidi and Spencer. Some characters hate other characters, embittered battles also drawn out sometimes for years. You can tune in to pretty much any episode in any season and follow what's happening within a few seconds of seeing two characters interact.
In the finale, I find that the Kristen and Brody relationship is still happening, though probably in its final stages, while Audrina and Justinbobby seem to be done. Heidi and Spencer, I remember now, were kicked off the show mostly for being themselves. Neither they nor Lauren were anywhere to be found in the finale. But each of the other cast members gets a happy ending, of sorts.
Audrina buys a beach house, though judging by the quick look we get at the beach, she'll probably be eaten by sharks within a few days.
Lo moves in with her boyfriend. Lo remains the most familiar of all the girls to me--there was a shot of her in Laguna Beach, wearing a pastel polo shirt and driving a VW Jetta, that could well have been filmed back home on the Pennsylvania Main Line. I don't understand beach girls, but I understand perky, preppy, blonde sorority girls who wear pastel polo shirts. And I understand VW Jettas.
I'll be forever grateful to her for coining the name "Justinbobby" for Audrina's ex-boyfriend, who doesn't seem to have ever gone by that name.
Stephanie is dating a motocross racer. This is consistent with her former meth habit.
Brody wears sunglasses in the pool. Not just while at the edge, talking to someone outside the pool: he actually swims with them on.
Kristen is moving to Europe. Europe is a big place, I'm pretty sure, but neither Kristen nor anyone she talks to seems to require any further specification. "Do you know anyone there?" her friend asks. "Yeah, I know one person there," Kristen says. One person where? I know that England is only about the size of a full-sized sedan like the Dodge Stratus, but there are at least four other countries in Europe. Maybe even five!
That's all nice, I guess. It's interminably boring, really, though as always, the episode is over before you know it. The Hills is remarkable in that way: nothing really happens in a show like Mad Men, yet it seems to take forever. But even more nothing happens in The Hills, and it flies by in what seems like seconds. You just get snapshots: Brody with sunglasses in the pool, Audrina eyeing the sharks that will soon devour her, Lo giggling about that unnecessary 3AM tequila shot, Stephanie saying "um." And then it's over.
But the finale! Oh, the finale! Brody meets Kristen to reluctantly wish her bon voyage on her trip to the concept of Europe. They hug, they cry, she leaves. Brody stands, hands in pockets, baseball cap on head, with the Hollywood Hills and that famous crooked sign behind him. Then, his background moves. It slides, pushed by a production assistant, revealing floodlights, cameras, a huge crew, all standing in a Hollywood film lot, in an alley between studios. Kristen re-emerges from off-set, hugs Brody, for real this time, and two production assistants pound one in. It's a wrap, says the fist bump. Phew, says the ensuing fist bump explosion.
It's the first time the show has acknowledged the fakery behind the scenes, though that's the entire reason I and a whole crop of sort-of-ironic viewers watched it in the first place. Yes, this is fake. Is Kristen even going abroad? Will she and Brody get back together? Are any of these relationships real? Who cares?
Also interesting is that the people who really watch this show, who really love it, the 14-year-old girls, don't get the ending. They don't like it. "This was the worst ending ever!" says Twitter user RuthieZNG. (ZNG!) But most of the commenters on Facebook and Twitter just talk about the drama, the same as always. "Spencer and Heidi need help!" "I just love Audrina and Lo!" "Audrina's new house is amazing!" They ignore the show's unmasking. It doesn't matter to them.
Part of what's so great about the ending is that it's for me. And you, and anyone who reads this, and anyone who understands that liking The Hills means hating it, and hating it means liking it. It's not for the 14-year-old girls. The rest of the show is for them, sure. The commercials are for them. The marketing is for them. This ending is for us.
I've been saying for a long time that the producers of The Hills are smarter than either its cast or its audience. I'm glad they showed it.