The Hills Review: ‘New Beginnings Is The Same Old Hills, And I Am Here For It’

Stephanie Pratt is back! Mischa Barton is there! Brody Jenner is still an asshole! The Hills: New Beginnings is here, but 9 years on, is it watchable telly, or a reality TV horror show? Daisy Buchanan finds out...

The Hills New Beginnings

by Daisy Buchanan |

‘Most people know that when you get famous at a certain age, you end up staying that age.’

I’ve loved The Hills since it first aired in 2006 – in fact, technically I’ve loved it before it existed, as I watched its 2004 incarnation – Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County. (Sidebar – it’s about to get massively meta. We’re about to see Mischa Barton, the new star of New Beginnings, which is the spin - off of the spin off – but most of us know Mischa from the made up Orange County, as the troubled Marisa Cooper in the OG O.C. Still with me?) Anyway, and I say this with love, I have looked to the stars of The Hills stable for many things – dramatic break ups, fabulous interiors and ideas for what to do with a surplus of diamanté – but I never expected or hoped for great profundity. Yet, it has been delivered in the very first episode of New Beginnings by the son of Pamela Anderson. Brandon Thomas Lee has distilled the very essence of the programme in less than two seconds.

READ MORE: What I Learnt From Re-Watching Every Episode Of The Hills

The one nod to now is that absolutely every cast member has anxiety. Poor Heidi Pratt seems to be struggling horribly with motherhood – she looks wobbly and weepy at the prospect of being separated from her toddler son Gunner for more than twenty minutes. Audrina Partridge is a newly divorced single mother who is trying to shore up her fragile confidence after a toxic time with her ex. And Brody Jenner – well, Brody says things like ‘You’re giving me anxiety!’ whenever his wife Kaitlynn – not Caitlin, that’s his parent – suggests that he might like to come home when he says he’s going to come home, and not sleep in his car. That’s when he’s not calling her a psychopath. Charming.

Aside from Brody being a gaslighting asshole, here’s what is happening. Stephanie Pratt has moved back to LA, which is bad news for Made In Chelsea fans, but good news for Mischa Barton, who is also moving back to LA after a hiatus, because she found ‘A lot of people I trusted turned out to be monsters.’ Yes Marisa, sorry, Mischa! Like Ryan Attwood’s terrible brother Trey, and that Volpcheck character, and everyone who abandoned you to OD in Tijuana…sorry. Oh my God, I loved The OC so, so much. Anyway, Audrina is also thrilled that Stephanie is back, because Stephanie will encourage Audrina to live that 2009 life and pursue Justin Bobby, even though Justin has taken to dressing just like Charlie Kelly from It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia. The only people who are not pleased about Stephanie’s return are Spencer and Heidi, who have spent the last few years communicating with Stephanie through the Daily Mail.

Firstly, I’d forgotten that this happened two years ago - Speidi became pals with someone who – and I must say at this juncture that these are my own views and not those of Grazia Daily – is a professional right wing horror show. If you’ve struggled through a Christmas lunch with a Brexity uncle, you too might decide that you’re on Team Stephanie. Secondly, every time we see Spencer and Heidi they appear to be drinking a pint of white wine. Will Stephanie’s presence even register with them, or will they have to spend all of their energy on making sure that their awkward, acidic burps don’t bring up any vomit? The mysterious nightclub impresario Frankie is holding a big party for Stephanie. Will Speidi come? Will they be able to leave miniature Arsenal fan, baby Gunner? It turns out they will be there as long as they can bring 2009’s greatest professional villain, Perez Hilton. They’re giving Mischa a chance to ‘clear the air’ with him! So what if he devoted his professional life to bullying her about her weight on the internet? I’m sure there are two sides to this.

Pammy turns up to see son Brandon, and she does not disappoint. On discovering that he has a box of Lucky Charms in his cupboard, she decides the whole house needs to be cleansed with sage, and runs around with a burning branch, almost setting child and kitchen alight. From what we’ve heard, the Ecuadorian embassy could do with a good sage session, Pamela. Remember that New Beginnings is already a MIC/The OC/ Baywatch crossover show. If Pammy brings her pal Julian Assange on the show, we’re going to end up with a very glamorous version of Question Time, albeit with an Ed Hardy aesthetic. Can we talk about the jeans? Everyone is wearing denim that isn’t so much distressed as traumatised? Audrina’s exposed shins are more effective on Justin Bobby than the Men In Black neuralyzer. He talks about her marriage as though it’s a slightly disappointing Teletext holiday she has just returned from.

In 40 minutes, we learn everything and nothing. The world has changed entirely, and yet we might as well have spent the last decade in total stasis. Brody Jenner is, I think, the worst, he makes his wife Kaitlynn seem desperately unhappy and I really hope she leaves him before they think about having children. Brody denigrates marriage in every single scene he’s in – which wouldn’t be so bad if he wasn’t in one. Audrina seems more vulnerable at 33 than she was at 23. Fame makes people crazy, Malibu is beautiful, no-one on this show can pronounce Indonesia, and if you wear double denim, you will never be made to go and work in an office. Speidi have a podcast, but everything else is exactly the same. Which is why I’ll be watching next week. Sometimes, living in 2019 is hard. I don’t want New Beginnings, I want the old, comforting ones. In a world where everyone appears to be increasingly sober, modest, hard working and self aware, it’s very pleasant to travel back to a time where everyone drinks far too much wine and wants to be friends with Marisa Cooper.

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