This week (May 31, to be exact) marks 10 years since MTV gave us the gift of The Hills―arguably one of the most important introductory courses to life as a twentysomething in Los Angeles. (Provided, of course, your twenties also consisted of being followed around by a camera crew and frequenting clubs like Les Deux.)
Sure, it wasn't super realistic. Ultimately, a decade after the fact, we can recognize that The Hillswas very white, very upper class, and very insensitive to obvious mental health issues (particularly as Heidi's penchant for plastic surgery became more of a punch line and less a point of concern). But via sound bites and Lauren Conrad's zest for slinging one-liners, it did teach us a few vital life lessons. Here, a look back at some knowledge this very important show imparted on us.
Lesson One: Never Wear Combat Boots To The Beach
Let's start with the greatest lesson of all: Do not wear combat boots to the beach. It looks weird. It is weird. And while I maintain that we all have a right to self-expression via our personal aesthetic, I draw the line here. To wear combat boots on sand is anarchy. It makes no sense. They're too warm, they're too heavy, and they will result in at least one or two near-slip and/or falls, defeating the purpose of trying to look cool. Wear them to a wedding before wearing them to the beach. Wear them to bed before wearing them to the beach. Be gone with you, combat boots.
Lesson Two: Go To Paris Or Forever Be The Girl Who Didn't Go To Paris
Behold! A lesson in prioritizing. While we can―and will―sit back and roll our eyes at the self-seriousness ofThe Hills, we do owe kudos to Teen Vogue's Lisa Love for dropping the mic on Lauren's decision to spend the summer with then-boyfriend Jason instead of going to Paris for work. Especially since, as a result, Lauren became The Girl Who Didn't Go to Paris. And despite the fact that Conrad has built an empire for herself in the meantime, Love's words still echo every time any of us are given a choice to do something cool and scary―or sit back and opt for the safe road.
Also: Jason? He wasn't even a great boyfriend. (Remember when he kissed Lauren at midnight on New Year's while smoking two cigarettes? #why)
Lesson Three: Oversensitivity Is A Myth
Hands up if you've ever felt gaslit by a dude who made you feel like your emotions weren't valid. (Okay, now put them down so you can keep scrolling through this piece because we've still got a little ways to go.) But exactly: When Lauren began to question whether she "should" be upset over a particular interaction, BFF Lo stepped up to remind her that a) Lauren can feel however she wants and b) the man in question (Brody?) was being a balloon animal. Which is an important thing to remember in moments of worrying about whether it was okay to lose one's cool―especially since odds are it was. Over-asshole syndrome is real.
Lesson Four: Who We Were Dictates Who We Are Now
Or: If you hogged the sand and/or water tables in preschool, you will grow up to be a greedy monster. And while that isn't 100 percent inaccurate, it's a weird reminder that who we were in our tweens, teens, and twenties still set the stage for who we are now. Even those bad, alt haircuts some of us (hi!) got back in the MySpace era. If not for those, we wouldn't know self-bleaching kits spell disaster.
Lesson Five: Dating in 2006 Was Weird And Terrible
For some of us, The Hills was our first foray into seeing what dating was supposed to look like. And as a result, we were scarred for life. Via Lauren Conrad, we saw everything from personality-less dudes who were panic inducing in terms of their blandness to awkward dinners spent making small talk. Not to mention the rules: flowers, chocolate, "should do," "shouldn't do"―everything about dating seemed awful. (Plus, very slanted: The Hills gave us a very strict heteronormative approach to partnerships―we didn't see a single LGBTQ story arc during the entire series.)
But fortunately, the landscape has changed. Circa 2006, nobody used the Internet (or so it seemed) since they were all so preoccupied by their flip phones. Not to mention Lauren and Friends™ seemed to meet everyone at clubs, where they shouted introductions at each other before agreeing to weird meals. Which is the opposite of real life―literally and thankfully. (Unless you're into club meets and silent dinners, and if that's the case, you do you.)
Lesson Six: Be Direct
Admittedly, Spencer Pratt was the worst, but let's give him this: Dude delivered honesty in a way typically reserved for an episode of Veep, and in the era of subtweets and false niceties, I can almost appreciate his ability to just say what's on his mind.
Does that mean we should be like Spencer? Absolutely not. Homeboy started the Lauren Conrad/Jason Wahler sex tape rumor. But we can still applaud that fact that he's always been unabashedly himself, and delivered a line (as seen above) that I have wanted to say countless times since I first heard it.
Lesson Seven: Withstand The Storm
Lauren got put through the ringer. She broke up with Jason (who was terrible), she didn't have the easiest time at work, ever, she had the huge falling-out with Heidi, survived a rumor spread by Spencer, dated a series of lackluster dudes, and cried a lot. (Audrina's life, on the other hand, was way more fun.)
But that said, Lauren was right with this sentiment: Sometimes life is the actual worst, and you just have to deal with it because that's what adulthood is. This isn't Laguna, where there's drama over a black-and-white dress code―it's grown-up time. Which means at some point everything will go belly up, and all you can do is stand there and figure out how to glue it back together. Fortunately, most of us don't have to do it in front of a reality show crew.
Lesson Eight: Emote, Girl
You know, if The Hills taught us anything, it's this: Cry. Cry like you've never cried before. Cry over friends, cry over relationships, cry over jobs that don't seem real. (I still have no idea what Whitney and Lauren were doing in that basement office.) Cry like no one's watching. Cry like an audience of millions are watching. Cry as one mascara tear falls down your face. Cry while speaking, cry while on the couch, cry after realizing Justin Bobby has left you and your motorcycle helmet at a party. Crying is great and healthy and the most effective way to preserve your mental health/blood pressure.
Lesson Nine: Best Friends Should Be, Uh, The Best
Of course, we got just a glimpse into Lauren Conrad's actual life―mainly in that we only saw her hang out with four people, and three of them seemed terrible. And this was a buzzkill for any of us who took the show seriously (particularly during the series' first few seasons), because it seemed like that was it: You kept crappy friends because they were there, and you just let them walk all over you. (Paging Jen Bunny.)
But obviously that's not the case. In real life, you keep good friends and you quickly excommunicate anybody who isn't. Friends don't screw over other friends, and the people who thirst for drama will usually peace out once they realize you're not up for it. The people we saw on The Hills? Those weren't real pals. They were paid to show up to work every day and make a TV show interesting. So mainly: If any relationship in your life reminds you of Lauren and Heidi, run.
Lesson Ten: And Sometimes Guys Just Aren't Worth It
Or: What I tell myself every time I see Leonardo DiCaprio with another model.
Bonus shot: Look at young Lauren and Brody!
Originally posted on ELLE.com