Bongo to Bongo, Done & Done

'Laguna Beach' cast for Bongo, Summer 06

True to form, I missed the final ep of ‘The Hills’ live last night, and so I avoided all media on it like the plague until MTV *finally* put it online some time this afternoon. I awoke from a nap eager to see it, because I already knew there was a big, surreal twist. I won’t reveal it here, mainly out of embarrassment for probably having been the last rabid fan to see it, but also because I think it was a slight cop-out, though a warranted one. But enough about that.

This show–how can I put it delicately–completely reeled me in, hook-line-sinker, during one of MTV’s notorious marathons. I wanna say it was in late 2007 or early 08, and it was right before a new season or half-season started. Anyway, I’d never had the slightest interest in this show or the kids on it; I remember when ‘Laguna Beach’ first came out and thinking it looked ridiculous, even though I never bothered to watch a single ep of it. But ‘The Hills’ was different, because even though they’d only been outta high school a few years (literally, like three years), they were already “grown up,” with “real” jobs (big quotes there) and enjoying all the trendy restaurants and clubs LA has to offer (Ketchup or Milk, anyone?). Yes, the drama came in full-force, but what really set this show apart was the spin-on-a-dime editing, the cutting-edge song selection, and the brilliant cinematography. It truly felt more like a scripted drama than a reality show…okay, the jokes come too easy! At the height of ‘The Hills’ craze, Mila Kunis and James Franco spoofed Audrina and Justin Bobby in a bar; this in and of itself, besides being hysterical, was a mile mark of the show’s popularity and impact on pop culture in general.

I could go on and on, but I’ll leave it at this: the show so compelled me that I actually rented ‘Laguna Beach’ from Netflix to get the original backstory on LC & Co. But I plead innocent, because this was back in 2008 before I was back in school, when I had *lots* of free time on my hands! All I can say is that creator Adam DiVello is a genius to’ve scouted out these high school kids in 2004 and then to’ve been able to spin a few of them off into another, more adult show that ran 102 episodes. Whether it was ever a semblance of their true reality, the shows were compelling because of the way they were shot, edited, and presented on MTV. And though people have given the network much grief the last several years for showing next to no music videos, the soundtrack to each ep of ‘The Hills’ was integral to the drama and whatever else was going on. It got to where I could actually predict which radio singles would make it onto an ep, which either means I *really* need a life, or that pop music was that central to the show!

With all that said, and I’ve said this before so it’s nothing new, I’d kill to write my senior thesis on this show. Not just to get to watch some of the eps that I know I’ve never seen, but because this show–at the risk of sounding cliche–went deeper than free/rigged publicity for LA’s nightlife and shopping–and Las Vegas’s, for that matter. Sure, it was about young America’s gross overindulgence in capitalism, but it touched nerves. Even if you didn’t think Jason was good for Lauren, you wanted her to be happy. And when she left the show, you were glad for her in “real life” when she “designed” a clothing line and “wrote” two NYT bestsellers (again, big quotes, because as much as I like her, the girl barely graduated high school and dropped out of fashion design college!). Much like these Bongo ads I’m including, the DiVello franchise was compelling because, even though for one minute you don’t believe these kids actually wear Bongo–especially since it’s now apparently only sold at K-Mart and Sears–you want to like it, and you’re not afraid to get hooked into at least looking at the stuff. Being the dork I am, I researched Bongo’s ad strategy, and they actually launched a limited line of guy’s clothes and shoes back in Summer 06, hence the whole ‘Laguna’ cast appearing in the ads. So I think it’s only fitting that literally the day before the show ended, Audrina was announced as the new face of Bongo, replacing Jesse McCartney, who somehow repped the line even though they no longer sell guy stuff. The most hysterical thing about Audrina is that she’s clearly just doing it for the money, and/or to put it in her modelling portfolio. I can’t blame her; she’s founded a whole career in Hollywood on what’s turned out to be a relatively fake reality show, so more power to her to laugh all the way to the bank!

Audrina for Bongo, Summer 10

I planned on including some quotes from the cast concerning the longevity of the show, and on quitting while they’re ahead, but I think I’ll just end with my all-time favourite quote from both shows. And yes, I’m saving the other ones for my thesis (fingers crossed, though I’m sure with my luck I’ll end up having to write it on ho-hum medieval literature).

“Everyday’s a fashion show, Mom.”–Lo Bosworth to her mom on ‘Laguna Beach’

And with that, another favourite show bites the dust. Hope everyone’s immensely enjoying their summer!


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