Today RetroMTV, MTV's programming block of "old" shows (we're not talking The Grind or We're Dancin' here), finished up its run of The Hills, that great era-defining pseudo-reality show that ended three years ago. As a little bit of incentive to get people who already sat through the show's first sun-poisoned run, they included a shocking alternate ending. Yeah, because the show was not real, they shot more than one final scene for the series finale.
In case you've blocked out the memory of how the show ended the first time: Series star Lauren Conrad was long gone, and replacement Kristin Cavallari and on-again/off-again boyfriend Brody Jenner (of House Jenner, step-brother to the Kardashians) had a strained parting of ways. And then, suddenly, a backdrop was rolled away and it was revealed that they were on a studio lot. Kristin got out of her car as the crew applauded and she gave Brody a hug, one cast mate saying "We did it" to the other. It was the show's sorta funny, sorta infuriating way of addressing the accusations that the show was completely staged. "You want staged? Here's staged," The Hills said, a middle finger pointed sassily at the audience. But, as we learned today, that's not how it had to end.
The alternate ending is actually a lot more fun, less meta, and plays with a bit of ambiguity in a saucy, almost sophisticated way. Kristin and Brody say the same goodbye, but then the cameras follow Brody back to an apartment, where he is greeted by... Lauren! Haha! She's back! He tells her that saying goodbye was rough and she says that goodbyes are hard, and then, after a slight pause, she gives him a big, mischievous smile and I guess the implication is that they ended up together, in a high rise overlooking the city. And then lived happily ever after, away from the cameras, blinking and grinning at each other for eternity?
It's not entirely clear, and that's what makes it so great. I wish they'd gone with this ending. The original was interesting, but it sapped what made the show fun, that uncertainty about how seriously the show took itself. With this other, previously unaired ending, we leave the show still in the un-commented-on drama of the thing. If only the producers had resisted their meta urges, we could have had this much more mysteriously satisfying ending. Oh well. It doesn't matter now. The past has already been written.