July 10, 2004

Beach Blanket Blandness: MTV Portrays Laguna Beach Students as A-List Losers

AT THIS TIME LAST YEAR, the incessant blogbuzz around the election caused my head to explode. While it was being rebuilt, my wife took over some of my "duties" and took an up close and personal look at MTV's "Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County." Now like the Asian Flu, the show is back for a second season because, well... because in America anything worth doing is worth overdoing.

Here's a look back which will be, because teenagers live a life of enervation and repetition, just like a look ahead.


Contributor's note: Of course I was mad. I was the one who had to clean up all that gunk and brain matter when his head exploded. As the reassembly nears its final stages, he wrote out in a shaking hand, "Post, please. You must post, something...anything." So here is something. -- Mrs. VdL

GrouppicI watch "Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County"on MTV with the same mixture of horror and fascination you feel when you�re driving by a bad car crash. You don't want to gawk, but you can't help it.

I recognize the beaches. I recognize downtown. I recognize the Surf and Sand Resort. But I don't recognize any of these characters. Because these teenagers have to be characters. They can't be real high school kids. At least I hope and pray that they're not.

My son is only 10, so I don't know many high school-aged kids. But if the students at Laguna Beach High School are really anything like that, if that's the top of the social strata, we may have to move.

If you believe what you see, life in Laguna Beach is just one car ride in a BMW after another. It's all about eating in restaurants, figuring out where the next party is, shopping, tanning, talking about who's doing whom, and flinging lots of blond hair around (not that there's anything wrong with that, I say, making a mental note to call Tori and see if I can get in on Saturday for highlights.)

Last night's episode was the worst so far. The group had high-tailed it down to Cabo San Lucas for Spring Break. We see Kristen and her buddy Lo talking on the plane. Kristen is intent on "hooking up" with somebody, some how, some way in Cabo. Uh, and what about her boyfriend, Stephen? He needs to loosen up, apparently. The recurring theme becomes "What happens in Cabo, stays in Cabo."

Just about the time we were wondering, �Where the hell are the parents in all this?� Kristen and LC�'s fathers appear as if on cue. And even though these two beach blondshells are mortal enemies, caught in a tug-of-war with pretty-boy-loser Stephen, their dads just happen to be hanging out together. Not in Cabo, mind you � it didn�t look like any parents were around, just their money. No, the dads were back in Laguna.

"I told Lauren (LC) that she needed to be the mother down there, keep everyone in line," said Lauren�s dad.

Kristen's dad shook his head. "I just trying to rein Kristen in," he laughed.

Cut to Cabo, where Kristen is humping a pole on top of the bar, taunting Stephen about the lap dance she just gave a new friend. Stephen lurches after her, yelling about what a slut she is. They seem to break up (how come, I wonder) and Stephen hangs out the rest of the time in Cabo with LC, but mouths "I love you" to Kristen at dinner. Nice. The previews for next week show our young lovers on the beach talking about how great it is that they're back together. At least we've got that to look forward to.

But the real low point in this week�s show wasn't the poll dancing, wasn't the drinking, wasn't the random �hooking up, wasn't the total absence of any sign of intelligence, wit, or concern beyond their next trip to South Coast Plaza. No, it was in the earlier scenes, when the girls were in major prep mode for the Cabo trip, which included several try-on sessions at local bikini shops, naturally. (�Can I get this with a small bottom and a large top?� Kristin asks.)

But no, that�s still not the bad part. What really set my teeth on fire (a fine phrase borrowed from my husband) was the scene in which the girls go to the tanning salon, and why wouldn't they, since they�re about to go on vacation?

Stretched out in their new bathing suits, little protective goggles adjusted just so, the next thing we hear is the chirp chirp of first one cell phone, then another. We watch, in disbelief, as the girls settle in for a cell-phone gabfest with each other while irradiating themselves in tanning tombs. I guess having a meditative moment to yourself � even if only during a brief tanning session � just isn�t part of these girls� agenda.

As Alex Williams notes in a New York Times article on October 10, 2004,

�The current fascination with Orange County taps the need Americans seem to have to create a bubble in which playful adolescent fantasies can act themselves out in the sun, removed from any real-world complications like war, unemployment or split ends.�

To be fair, at least Trey seems to have a smidgeon of consciousness underneath that tousled hair. He's organizing a non-profit for young people, though its objectives remain unclear. Why eat up valuable screen time with something as boring as that when you can show squabbling at the fire pit or petulant surf lessons?

Another girl character, I can't remember which one (she had dark hair) was spilling a few tears after learning that she hadn't been accepted by the one and only university to which she'd applied. (How dumb is that? � Again, where the hell are the parents in these situations?)

Since these are high school students, you may be wondering why we don't see any Fast Times at Laguna Beach High. That's because there was a major small-town uproar when MTV got behind-the-scenes permission from the School Board to go in and (gasp!) film at the Laguna Beach High School. Well, that permission was pulled faster than you can say �surf's up� when the rest of the parents got wind of it.

Of course that put nary a damper on the MTV cast and crew, who managed to find alternative locations to stage the dramas that make up (or purport to make up) these kid's� lives. That explains, in part, why school plays such an insignificant role. MTV wasn't allowed to go there. But it doesn't explain why we never see anyone reading a book, going to a bookstore, or even sitting behind a computer.

I hope they regret the day they sold their souls to MTV and became pseudo actors (really lousy ones, at that). And I hope for their sakes that it really is just bad acting and not their real lives.

Thankfully, I know that all Laguna Beach high school students aren't like this, because I recently saw an encouraging profile in our local Laguna! Life & People magazine about a beautiful 15-year old young lady named Lisa Conn, who studied French and literature this past summer at the Oxbridge Academy in Paris, is the lead female vocalist of the High Standards Jazz Trio, has appeared in numerous local musical and stage productions, and started volunteering in community service programs when she was 11. She also works with developmentally disabled and physically challenged adults, and has created a network of volunteers to assist them called the Jeremiah Volunteer Youth Auxiliary. Oh, and as far as I could tell, she has only one closet.

And that's good news, because I don't want to move.

Posted by at July 10, 2004 11:02 AM
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

Good God, I looked at the picture and my first thought was "what is this guy writing an article on "Friends" for?"

Posted by: Dan at October 28, 2004 9:21 AM

Reality television. It's an oxymoron.

Posted by: CJ at October 28, 2004 12:22 PM

i like the show if not for the simple fact that it is really great to see other people living the life i dream of...if that life includes wasting time on a skinny pretty boy and dancing on poles in cabo praying to god i dont fall in my "stylish 5 years ago" platforms and miniskirt! hmmmm ok maybe i don't dream about that after all! still, somewhat refreshing to see a group of people more concerned with material things and hooking up than i am!

Posted by: kk at October 29, 2004 10:06 AM

Where'd my comment go? *pouts*

Posted by: fat kid at October 31, 2004 8:20 PM

why do you care so much about the show? if you don't like it, don't watch it. Find something better to do cause you care alittle too much about this show and analyze it way too much for someone who doesn't like it. And also most people go tanning before vacation so they don't get burned once they're exposed to the sun and hot climate.

Posted by: Vanessa at November 2, 2004 6:23 PM

I LOOOOOVE the show :D

Posted by: Heather at November 3, 2004 10:20 AM

i love this show and i think stephen is so hott! if u like it watch it, if u don't, don't watch it! I LOVE IT!!!

Posted by: ala at November 10, 2004 11:31 AM

OMG!!! I so love this show i mean i cant ever stop thinkin of how i wish my life was like that and crap!! Man id do anything just to meet one of them or All of them in that kinda situation!! And i think that Kristin needs to keep ahold of Stephan cause hes fuckin hotter then hell man!! She needs to keep hold before lauren gets him then kritin will be sry!! But kristin is a lil Bitchy he really does need to be with Lauren!!

Posted by: Justine at November 13, 2004 12:29 AM

ok for all of u 40 year old people- get real, this is what high school studnets are like. I live in PA and even my life is that dramatic. Deal with it. kids drink, have sex and sleep with other girls boyfriends... yea it happens

Posted by: laura at November 13, 2004 2:37 PM

GREAT! I look forward to having you serve me burgers and change my oil for the next 40 years. I can deal with that.

Posted by: Gerard Van der Leun at November 13, 2004 2:47 PM

i have lived in laguna my entire life..and just finished high school at laguna high..and can honestly say the show is not scripted they just had film running 24/7 on them..and yea so what mtv gave them pointers on what to say...it was all legit.i really enjoyed the show and thought it was rad that it was at our own high school. so did the cast of the show..i now go to SFSU-San Francisco State University and really like it here some of my friends from laguna go here too. including stephen C. from the show.. he talks about the show all the time and he said that he really did enjoy it it was a great way for him to expose himself for a future career possibly in radio and communications. well if you have any question abou tthe show or want to know more about the cast post your thoughts and i will reply

Posted by: tyler at November 14, 2004 11:00 AM

i have lived in laguna my entire life..and just finished high school at laguna high..and can honestly say the show is not scripted they just had film running 24/7 on them..and yea so what mtv gave them pointers on what to say...it was all legit.i really enjoyed the show and thought it was rad that it was at our own high school. so did the cast of the show..i now go to SFSU-San Francisco State University and really like it here some of my friends from laguna go here too. including stephen C. from the show.. he talks about the show all the time and he said that he really did enjoy it it was a great way for him to expose himself for a future career possibly in radio and communications. well if you have any question abou tthe show or want to know more about the cast post your thoughts and i will reply

Posted by: hobie at November 14, 2004 11:01 AM

hey is LC a little whore? I love her, and good gossip

Posted by: Mastro at November 15, 2004 11:54 AM

Stephen Is so beautiful. I love him he is sexy

Posted by: Whatever at November 16, 2004 6:53 PM

u dont go to SFSU and u dont know stephen u liar.

Posted by: real deal at November 16, 2004 10:11 PM

lo didnt even go to cabo, kristin was talking to alex.

Posted by: britta at November 17, 2004 7:23 PM

Okay, what is wrong with you people? Seriously, something's wrong. Have you no morals? People like the kids on Laguna Beach and people who aspire to be like them are the downfall of this world. Why do you want to drink, get shitfaced, sleep with other people's boyfriends, and live a life completely devoid of meaning? I want an answer to this question. Because, unless you can prove me wrong, you are completely self-involved and frightening.

Posted by: laguna beach sucks at November 18, 2004 6:14 PM

LAGUNA BEACH IS SO COOL LO ISNT EVEN KRISTINS FREIND SHES LC'S FREIND AND THANK GOD

Posted by: VIVIAN at November 19, 2004 11:50 AM

Lady, thats what highschool is like. Your little son is gonna grow up and be caught in all the middle of the highschool drama, no matter WHERE you move to. I live in a town of 750 people in So. Illinois (& let me tell you, the drama is EXACTLY like what happens here, minus the daily pedicures and gucci sunglasses) This show is interesting to people our age because we relate to it so well. Why else would we love it??

I hate to break it to ya, but thats how highschool is these days...drinking, sex, parties, etc....it happens. Welcome to the real world.

Posted by: Jessica at November 20, 2004 12:49 PM

First I would advise you didn't make judgements and accusations. A lot of scenes that are showed are taken out of sequence just like how they do it on 'The Real World'. First, if you don't know much about the show, then you really shouldn't be making these assumptions.. I especially liked when you were talking about the tanning salon. How do you know they weren't just talking about their trip to Cabo that they were going to take in advance? A lot of girls where I live go to tanning salons, it's not some new amazing thing that only exists on T.V.
I also liked the part where you said 'Last nights episode was the worst so far. The group had high-tailed it down to Cabo San Lucas for Spring Break. We see Kristen and her buddy Lo talking on the plane. Kristen is intent on hooking up with somebody, some how, some way in Cabo. Uh, and what about her boyfriend, Stephen? He needs to loosen up, apparently. The recurring theme becomes What happens in Cabo, stays in Cabo.'
I wonder what kind of planes have hair and nail salons on them.. because that's where the two girls are by the way. And 'Lo'? You mean ALEX, Kristin's best friend? Yeah... nice to know you pay attention to little facts.
If you don't like the show, that's your opinion, but please stop bitching and get over it.

Posted by: Liz at November 20, 2004 1:32 PM

i think the show is a great show because it is real life, unlike shows like one tree hill or dawsons creek. in those shows everyone always makes up and are the best of friends at the end of the hour. its about time there is a real show with real situations. and for everyone who has negative comments about the show you are now forced to watch it, you can change the channel.and for the cast of laguna, i give you major credit for having your senior year taped for the whole world to see and i feel bad for soem of you cause i think mtv labeled some of you s as one being the bitch, one being the flirt and one being the bimbo and i dont think that is right at all, i would love to see the whole cast on an interview and would love to know what they thought of the show and see if they were portrayed falsely.

Posted by: REEN at November 22, 2004 5:03 PM

Okay I am a total Laguna Beach addict.Like this is one of my all time favorite tv shows.For the people who are all talking about how you never see them studying or whatever.The Mtv crews probably record that but it never makes it to the show.Why would anyone want to watch someone studying.Its boring and lame and plus it wouldn't help out the story any.And Stephen is cool sometimes but LC (Lauren) can do so much better then that.And Kristin is really cool at times even though she can be annoying.And I live just like all those kids on Laguna Beach so if you don't like them then you have to hate me.Oh,and the reason the parents aren't really shown.Is because its about THE KIDS not the parents durh gosh how dumb do you have to be.Laguna Beach is really super duper awesome show.Oh,yeah and Trey is a total hottie like I would date that kid any date.And Dieter and Talan oh my gosh so adorably cute like ahh they are just gorgy.Like I said before Mtv records everything they do but cut it down to 30 mintues so they can have a totally awesome show.Gosh,your a grown woman and you didn't even know that.Honestly,your probably the 10 year old kid goffing off on his parents computer!

Posted by: Jessi at November 27, 2004 9:25 PM

hate to break it to you, but High School is all about drama, drama, drama. I am a sophomore in a little town in southern Missouri. and that's all there is, drama! People get drunk every weekend, kids have sex all the time, a lot of the time with other peoples boyfriends/girlfriends. Our highschool and our rival highschool always pulling very illegal pranks on eachother. Everybody is backstabbing, lying, two-faced. 90% of the student body at my school is at least. I am not saying it's right, but it's just a reality. Girls especially. You can't avoid drama anywhere in this world. Especially at high school age. deal with it, you can't shelter your kids from it, it's just a part of life!

Posted by: B at December 26, 2004 1:38 PM

I think this show is great to watch!!! it is a reality tv show and that is what really goes on in Laguna Beach. I also met kristin and she is a sweetheart!!!! Love Julia

Posted by: julia at March 12, 2005 1:36 PM

I'm sorry to bust your little bubble, but high school life is not what you might have thought it was. Times have definitly changed, and they keep getting worse. I'm glad that you found one person in the entire Laguna Beach high school that makes you feel safe and like you don't have to move, but again..that is ONE person..your kid is only 10, and by the time he is ready to get to high school, i'm sure it will be a shocker for you. What you have to realize is that there is peer pressure EVERYWHERE..especially at the high school age. Laguna beach reminded me a lot of how high school was for me--minus all the excessive money and parents not being around--but the drama was the same, and guess what?? I went to a Christian schooL! I can almost promise you that anywhere you decide to send your kid, there is going to be crazy drama like that, unless you homeschool him, or shelter him from the entire world. My parents did what they could to shelter me from the the bad stuff, but its enevitable...mostly because it is EVERYWHERE..I'm sorry that you didn't like what you saw on this show, but I can believe that none of it was fake. I have seen people in situations like that, but A LOT WORSE..and they were GOOD kids too...I hope you reconsider that you are living in a different generation where a lot more is acceptable and common than you would believe.

Posted by: liz at April 27, 2005 2:03 PM

I think that Laguna Beach is a perfect way for parents to learn how their children really act. High School is not one A or B paper after the next to a teenage student. Times have changed dramatically since you were in high school. To a typical high school aged person Laguna Beach is just like home: beer, parties, sex, hating other girls. I, myself have proably attended 40 parties this year, and my parents know it, but they trust me. I know what it's like to be in the "in clique" because I am. That's how the characters of Laguna Beach are, they remind me very much of my own friends. Teenagers relate to the show very well. Your child is going to be exposed to these types of behavior no matter where you go, your child will probably have tried alchohol by the time he is 12 and of had some type of sexual contact. Sorry to break it to you. and how are we supposed to follow any thing in this article when half of your examples of the show are wrong?

Posted by: Brooke at May 8, 2005 2:32 PM

I love the show I'm a total fanatic! and what right do u think that you have telling us that this is a bad show when most of the country likes it(especialy california). That kinda crap happens at my school and i'm still in miggle school(about to go into high school) but i'm in 8th grade. your son is going to fing this crap everywhere he goes. I love the show so much that I even want to move there some day and raise a family there. i think that that would be lots of fun and i want my kids to grow up like the kids on that show. some of the girls may be sluts but it all worked out in the end and they have to do what the have to do. i don't even think that there slutty. that show definatly has some good sides 2. this show is inspiring me to like go to law school maybe or be a doctor just so i can live in thise big fancy houses and send my 18 year old daughter or son to cago for spring break. get your facts straight before you start talking crap behind there backs.
your the real bitch in my book. those people are good people to. holla at me if you wanna talk about the show. LagunaGirlMTV@aol.com o and PS i can't wait for the second season. and i am the biggest fan out there. you other people don't stand a chance

Posted by: LagunaLver at June 4, 2005 4:03 PM

You guys are stupid High School is so not like that.Im a high school student (junior)and trust me we dont have that sort of drama.Probably you guys do cause you guys probably like the drama but not in my high schooL.you people probably live in little shitty suburbs in the middle of nowhere and dont have nothing better to do than start drama.So you guys need a reality check!!Live your own lives for gods sake you little kids are just imitting what you see in t.v.Yeah some teens have sex and drink but thats just a little portion and thats the portion that in the future are probably going to get an std or die.So take that bitches!!!!!Ha HA HA .So dont listen to themif you know your son is a good boy
and you brought him up well hes goign to make the right choices and not get caught up in this so called "Drama" that these immature kids are talking about

Posted by: Ana at June 20, 2005 8:04 PM

this is a great show. its all very real i can assure you!
kristin is a lil star she's really nice...LC's not a bitch and they do get on some of the time. its made out on the show that they are complete enimies but that is not the way of it.

Posted by: kristin cavalleri at July 21, 2005 4:33 AM

is this show real or fake? i saw pictures of "lo" and "laruen" on lo's webshots pictures site, and there is a picture of lauren, but her name is kahyley or sumthing, and there is a picture of dieter, but it says his name is marc. it also says lo is at college in theese pics, and shes at college with stephen kristin morgan, the whole crew. so do they go to college together too?

Posted by: tkp214 at July 27, 2005 1:28 PM

"What happens in Cabo, stays in Cabo."

...like what happens in Aruba, stays in Aruba.

I do think you need to adjust the STUPIDITY LIMITS down just a skoosh, or did you intend for the comments to become a gallery of bad examples?

Posted by: Mike Anderson at July 28, 2005 6:25 PM

Erm, Gerard, old boy... regarding your rebuilt head... isn't this just a shade out of the ordinary? Is Mrs. VdL okay with this?

Just asking.

Posted by: Woody at July 29, 2005 1:31 AM

tkp214- i went to lo's webshots too and noticed the same thing.. i want to believe the show is real because the drama is just like at any other school and its really relatable but this makes me wonder how much is true

Posted by: Sara at July 30, 2005 9:02 PM

i'm sure the show is real and i saw lo's webshots too...she was probably just changing the names so people wouldn't be able to search for them. also the pics with all the people from home could be from visiting them at school or them visiting her or holidays when they all came home. it just seems like lc is in a lot of them so i wonder if she ended up going to the same college as lo second semester. also she calls herself rayne in a couple pics and then once spelt it rain.. i'm pretty sure if that was her real name, she would spell it right. these kids are just like people from my highschool and just like the kids i've met at college. we're all like this...i just wouldn't want my parents to see it on tv!

Posted by: rb at August 7, 2005 8:06 PM

Who wouldnt want to live the life of any of the laguna beach kids? anyone who disses the show is simply jealous or is just looking for something to bitch about, this is how kids today are, and there is no avoiding it. so simply watch it, accept it and LOVE it!

Posted by: countrygal at August 14, 2005 9:23 PM

Laguna Beach is so addicting and I watch it every week. I am not much of watching shows week after week to see what happens but am a random watcher for other shows. But this shows has me glued to the television. My cousin goes to San Francisco state and she talked to stephen while in the school cafeteria. She told me she didnt know who he was until someone told her who he was. Can you believe how Jason went with Alex to formal. How do you do that when your with someone else. But Jessica is so dumb because she allows him to do all this crap to her. Does anyone think that this is ridicous how Jason treats her. If he doesnt like her break up with her dont keep her wondering and looking stupid.

Posted by: Lety at August 24, 2005 6:38 PM

Laguna Lver-- all i have to say is WOW. i mean i know youre only ...what 14? and have no clue what real life is really like but honestly, i feel so sorry for you and all the others on here you worship these kids who have done nothing worthwhile with their lives (except maybe have pretty hair and good tans.) yeah- high school is all DRAMA and i grew up at the beach too so my school was almost identical to theirs and i loved every second of it--- and thats why i dont need to watch some kids try extra hard to look like they are living some extraordinary life. enjoy your own life-- stop watching and idolizing theirs. You even refered to them as 'good people' like you know them or something! SAD!! also,if being a slut qualifies as 'something a girls gotta do to get by', your outlook on life is even more deranged than i thougt. as for being a motivation to become a doctor or a lawyer, as a current LAW STUDENT at the university of Miami, if this show is your inspiration, dont even bother appyling becuase youll NEVER make it! it takes alot more than wanting to "be like LC" to make it. GROW UP SWEETIE

Posted by: bchgrl at August 25, 2005 9:30 PM

Wow....wow. You people supporting LB are so stupid. While you people are worried about "drama" (Which, by the way, doesn't matter in high school because everyone goes to college and splits up, wait, nevermind, you people probably dont go to college), I'm going to focus on getting a good career, being a good person, as in, not being a total dick to everyone and cheating on my girlfriend, and living in the real world. Have fun bagging my groceries.

Oh, and I'm a high school student and I can say my town of about 10,000 people doesn't have drama like that except between the most stupid of the kids, who watch Laguna Beach.

Posted by: Tom at September 19, 2006 4:46 PM

For all the haters on this Post, if ur such good people and hate the laguna Life, why are you on this site and wasting your so called great life? we all have control of our lives, then we should be able to live it our own way!!! Stop wasting your time puting negative things about what we enjoy in life. What we do may not be as enjoyable as what you find fun...Like you jacking off alone in your room because you couldn't get ass, because you were toooo sweet(maybe ur gay!) to many girls.. almost to sweet to say you were way too much girly for a girl!! So, you are going to college and your still in high school? i think you you didn't get accepted because you spent too much time on the laguna post!!!! BUT HEY WE WELCOME EVERYONE HERE...EVEN YOU MR. SENSITIVE

Posted by: Laguna Girl!! at July 20, 2007 3:37 PM