It’s been almost 10 years since The Hills ended after six seasons, and in the spirit of millennial nostalgia MTV is bringing the reality show back for another go this June, with many of the same cast members, plus new additions like actress Mischa Barton.
Back in 2006 when the show first premiered, we followed the lives of young and beautiful 20-somethings who were trying to make it in Los Angeles. Some, like Lauren Conrad and Lo Bosworth, were familiar from the precursor to The Hills, Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County. Others were new arrivals, like Heidi Montag, Spencer Pratt, Audrina Patridge, and the revolving door of romantic interests. The show was a universe of drama, with so much in-fighting and so many rivalries that it was better than most soap operas.
It felt so real yet left us all skeptical when, in the series finale, the camera panned out to reveal a studio lot. We've definitely questioned the “reality” of this reality TV show. In the years since then, cast members have spoken out about aspects of the show that were exaggerated or downright scripted, so we’ve compiled 10 storylines on The Hills that were completely manufactured as well as 10 that were actually the real deal!
20 TOTALLY FAKE: Heidi Didn’t Work For Bolthouse
In the early seasons of The Hills, you might remember Heidi heading to Bolthouse Productions for a job that was pretty glamorous (and for which Heidi was quite unqualified). In addition to getting some of her friends into the hottest clubs, part of the manufactured drama for the show involved Heidi’s coworker, Elodie.
In Season One, Heidi received a promotion instead of Elodie, which led to tension between the two of them. According to Heidi, though, it was totally false! Speaking to BuzzFeed, Heidi said,
“I definitely did not get the promotion over Elodie. She really worked there and I pretended to work there, so it was obviously a pretend promotion for her to be upset about.”
19 DEFINITELY LEGIT: Justin Bobby, The Man With Two First Names
He was called the man who was so special he earned two names, and there’s actually a weird story behind the nickname “Justin Bobby” that is totally truthful!
Speaking to InStyle magazine, Justin Brescia said, “My middle name is Robert. My dad’s name was Bob, so he was Bobby Brescia…I didn’t want to give my birth name on the show – it rubbed me the wrong way – so I thought it would be cool to keep an alias of sorts.”
It was Audrina who kept calling him “Justin” rather than “Bobby,” and it eventually became “Justin Bobby” thanks to Lo Bosworth.
18 TOTALLY FAKE: Audrina Didn’t Flirt With Spencer
Making love triangles happen was bread and butter for The Hills, and even though Spencer Pratt had a very high-profile relationship with Heidi, that didn’t stop producers from manufacturing some drama between him and Audrina.
According to Audrina in an interview with Us Weekly, the “relationship” was a total setup. One specific instance was when Audrina was told to show up at Pinkberry only for Spencer to arrive unexpectedly bearing a bouquet of roses. “Oh, God, no! I did not have history with [Spencer] and this was one of the things that really upset me, and this was when I started distrusting the producers,” she said.
17 DEFINITELY LEGIT: That Single Tear
An iconic moment on the show, the single mascara tear that streaked Lauren’s face has been made into GIFs and memes.
The tear happened during a 2008 fight between Lauren and Audrina over Justin Bobby, and was explained to Us Weekly by Lauren. She said, “I was sad because I felt like she didn’t want to be my friend anymore. I just put on too much mascara, and it became a thing.”
While the tear definitely happened, the production department decided they needed a little more drama to really pack a punch, and so it was slowed down for maximum effect!
16 TOTALLY FAKE: Lauren & Brody Never Dated
In Season Two, it seemed like there was something happening between Lauren and Brody Jenner. Thanks to clever editing and coaching on behalf of production, audiences everywhere believed that the couple were exactly that: a couple.
Well, the joke was on us, because Lauren and Brody never actually dated! Speaking to Us Weekly, Lauren said that while the two of them were good friends, there wasn’t any romance there. She explained,
“We were always more friends than anything. It was always a blurred, weird relationship…He was always very sweet to me, and we enjoyed each other’s company, but I think it was one of those things where producers really wanted us to be together.”
15 DEFINITELY LEGIT: Spencer’s Crystal Obsession
Spencer never seemed like the most stable guy on the show (which, depending on who you speak to, is the result of unfair editing or a guy who really doesn’t have a filter), but in later seasons of the MTV show, he definitely, legitimately got hooked on crystals!
Spencer explained to Complex that he got into crystals following Heidi’s multiple surgeries. In the same interview, he described a day when he walked into a store in Los Angeles, saw a massive crystal he liked, and plunked down $75k on his Amex to buy it! In fact, in his current home with Heidi, he has a room dedicated to his various crystals!
14 TOTALLY FAKE: Jen Bunney & Brody Never Dated
In addition to never having had an actual relationship with Lauren, Brody also didn’t have a “thing” with friend Jen Bunny!
At Lauren’s 21st birthday, viewers were led to believe that Jen had broken her BFF’s trust and gotten involved with Brody, but nothing ever happened! Spencer of all people vouched for the fabrication of this storyline, telling Entertainment Tonight that since he was always filming everything himself, he had footage of what actually happened – which is nothing at all.
According to Spencer, the made-up drama was created by the producers after the faux-mance between Lauren and Brody fizzled.
13 DEFINITELY LEGIT: Lauren & Jason’s Fraught Romance
While the producers may not be the most reliable of sources, according to MTV the up-and-down romance between Lauren and Jason Wahler was, in fact, totally real. Remember that time he popped the question in 2007 to someone who was not Lauren, and it essentially ended their friendship? Yep, totally real!
Even when the couple was together, things were, according to Lauren and the staff on the show, complicated and dramatic. The producers weren’t even that keen on Jason, since they wanted Lauren to go off in a different direction, but the on-and-off romance stuck around for longer than they'd predicted.
12 TOTALLY FAKE: Lauren At Speidi’s Wedding
While it’s true that Lauren definitely did attend Heidi and Spencer’s wedding (the one that happened after their elopement), what’s not true is the reason why she looked so ticked off the whole time she was there.
For audiences, Lauren’s sour expression and quick exit seemed to be because she disliked Spencer and didn’t like seeing her former BFF with him. In reality, Lauren’s somber face was because she had somewhere else to be. She was furious because the wedding had been delayed for a few hours and she'd been forced to stay in a basement with a security guard blocking the door so that she couldn’t leave!
11 DEFINITELY LEGIT: Lauren Not Going To Paris
With producers wanting Lauren to ditch Jason and head off in a different direction, they were actually hoping she would jump at the offer made to her by Teen Vogue to take the business trip to Paris. Instead, she opted to stay with Jason – something that even he admits was a mistake. He told Us magazine, “She should have gone. We broke up, like, two weeks after that scene was shot.”
For all the hoopla surrounding the trip to Paris, according to costar Whitney Port it wasn’t that great, admitting to MTV that it was just “a meeting” and “not an extended period of time.”
10 TOTALLY FAKE: Speidi’s Big Mansion
Back when Heidi moved out of Lauren’s place and moved in with Spencer, audiences saw the two shack up in a giant mansion, complete with huge windows and a cute next-door neighbor who was the bane of Spencer’s existence.
The thing is, that house didn’t belong to the Pratts at all!
In reality, Heidi and Spencer lived 19 miles away at Spencer’s parents’ house in the Pacific Palisades and the house actually belonged to the parents of that cute little “next door” neighbor!
Speaking to Entertainment Tonight, Spencer said, “[Enzo’s] mom and dad [would be] in another room, and we’d come into Enzo’s house and pretend.”
9 DEFINITELY LEGIT: Justin Dated Holly
How’s this for a bit of weirdness that somehow never made it on air? For a show that thrived on romance and love triangles, MTV and producers of The Hills failed to capitalize on the randomness that was Justin Bobby briefly dating Heidi’s sister, Holly!
In all fairness, it was in 2011, after the cameras had stopped rolling. Us Weekly reported that Justin and Holly “[had] been [dating] for a while.” Of course, the commitment-phobic Justin was never considered to be the reliable type and the relationship fizzled shortly after being reported.
8 TOTALLY FAKE: Heidi’s Baby Fever
With a relationship that was careening towards serious territory, viewers saw that Heidi was really keen on getting a family started with Spencer. For those watching the show, it seemed like Heidi was doing everything to convince Spencer to have a baby.
In an interview with Entertainment Tonight, Heidi said that not only did she never try to trick Spencer into having a child, but she wasn’t ready for a kid anyway! “I don’t like tricking or manipulating people or things like that,” she said. “I think it’s a really important step, and I was way too young. I wasn’t even thinking about kids then.”
7 DEFINITELY LEGIT: All The Underage Partying
For legal reasons, obviously MTV couldn’t be blatant in showing their underage cast imbibing beverages that they were not old enough to have. The cast was regularly shown out partying at various nightclubs in the early seasons – ostensibly as part of Heidi’s fake gig with Bolthouse Productions – and, even with the cameras there, they were definitely indulging in things they shouldn’t have been.
Speaking to BuzzFeed, Heidi confessed, “When we were all at Les Deux, we were drinking whatever we could get our hands on. Water was NOT what we were drinking. We got in because I did work for Bolthouse and who doesn’t want some [attractive], young, fun girls in their club?”
6 TOTALLY FAKE: Kristin Vs. Audrina
The back-biting and catfights seemed fewer and further between once Lauren left the show and the drama between her and Heidi was finished, which is why producers leaned on newcomer Kristin Cavallari and Audrina to snipe at each other – it’s just that it was totally fake!
Despite the fact that Audrina was in a different relationship off-camera, both women were told to argue with one another and fight over Justin Bobby. Talking to Us Weekly, Audrina said, “It was really weird, and then whenever producers kept wanting me to fight with [Kristin] over [Justin], I was like, ‘I’m not doing that! I’m not even with him!’”
5 DEFINITELY LEGIT: Heidi’s Homecoming
In 2010, Heidi returned home to her family in Colorado after undergoing 10 procedures in one day. The episode is fraught with tension, and Heidi breaks down in tears – well, as much as her still-healing face will allow.
While Heidi had a falling-out with her family in the months that followed, she had a “self-awakening” in 2012. In 2013, she admitted to regretting some of her decisions. By 2015, Heidi informed Women’s Health that rewatching those scenes was painful for her, saying,
“It was really challenging and I was in so much pain, I could hardly talk. I was so young and I just didn’t, like, have a team behind me.”
4 TOTALLY FAKE: Enzo The Child Actor
Remember Enzo, that cute little kid who was the neighbor of Spencer and Heidi when in fact they were filming in his house all along? Enzo was either cute or annoying, depending on if you agreed with Spencer or Heidi, but one thing the show didn’t share was that the tot was actually a scripted child actor!
In an interview with Cosmopolitan, Heidi admitted that not only did they have a small storyline where they threw Enzo a party, but that he was a child actor! “Obviously he was a child actor!” Heidi remarked. “He did a great job.”
3 DEFINITELY LEGIT: Justin Bobby & Audrina’s Romance
Justin Bobby was infamous for his lack of commitment and stringing Audrina along, at least for a while. We should take Justin’s remarks about his romance with Audrina with a grain of salt, though.
Justin told Complex that the two were only friends, saying, “Were we like boyfriend and girlfriend? No, we weren’t. We worked a lot, we had some moments, we spent a lot of time together.”
However, Audrina and production staff have both said that the romance was real, with enough passionate moments, so it could be yet another instance of bad communication between these two!
2 TOTALLY FAKE: Fake Friends
Los Angeles may be filled with beautiful people, but as it turns out, much of the cast of The Hills was scouted for maximum audience appeal.
Lo Bosworth and Lauren had known each other since high school and Laguna Beach, but Audrina simply lived in the same apartment complex and was approached by producers while swimming in the pool! Whitney Port, Lauren’s coworker at the Teen Vogue offices, was already employed there when Lauren began showing up.
Speaking to Us Weekly, Heidi said that she and Lauren hadn’t even been informed of Audrina joining the show, explaining, “[She] just swam up to us, and I was like, ‘What is this girl doing in our shot?’”
1 DEFINITELY LEGIT: Spencer & Lauren Disliked Each Other
For all the fake stuff that was on The Hills, the drama between Spencer and Lauren was definitely not embellished.
While Spencer later did admit to Complex that he leaked rumors about Lauren having a secret video of herself, he said he never “started” them, which seems like semantics to us. Obviously, Lauren denies such a tape exists and thinks the rumors are untrue. This was the point that drove a wedge between the two of them, and, consequently, between Lauren and Heidi.
Speaking to BuzzFeed, Heidi said that after their friendship combusted, it was impossible trying to get Lauren to film scenes with her!
Sources: InStyle, BuzzFeed, Us Weekly, Cosmopolitan, Entertainment Tonight, Complex