I counted five long, awkward pauses during Audrina and Justin Bobby’s first encounter on The Hills: New Beginnings premiere. Five. And the final one lasted a whopping 15 seconds. That’s a whole lot of time to spend watching people stare at each other—but honestly, I could’ve done it for 15 more minutes. When The Hills first premiered 10 years ago, I was amazed by how much I enjoyed seeing pretty people sit around and do nothing. But reality TV has evolved considerably since then: Now, we have Bachelors jumping over fences and Real Housewives almost dying in boat accidents. So can The Hills keep up with that? Can the series’ iconic brand of nothingness work in a landscape of Kardashian cheating scandals?
The answer is a resounding, overwhelming yes. The Hills: New Beginnings has all the ingredients that made you fall in love with the franchise in 2006: stunning cinematography, Heidi Montag saying the word “yeah” repeatedly, and confrontations that last a total of 30 seconds. Truly! 30 seconds! The entire first episode built towards Stephanie Pratt’s “welcome home” party—she was living in London for years—but we only see three minutes of it at the end. That’s it. Forty-three minutes of pointless dialogue led to three minutes of action.
That’s exactly how The Hills hooks you, though. We’ll see what unfolds at Stephanie’s party next week, of course, but the drama will undoubtedly be followed by several scenes essentially recapping what happened. Then, Spencer will say something wild in the last minute of the show to hook you for the next episode. It’s a vicious cycle, but a cycle I’ll happily jump on time and time again.
The most perplexing part about The Hills reboot is that it has the potential to be about so much more. These cast members have been through a lot, after all. Audrina is divorced; Stephanie is now a British reality TV star; and Heidi and Spencer are, well, Heidi and Spencer. There’s plenty of narrative to go around, but no one’s digging deep. Audrina talked about her situation with her ex-husband no less than six times during the premiere but didn’t really reveal anything. If you’re going to address something like that on camera—and on a show like this—why not go all in? (Pending there isn’t a legal reason, of course.)
That’s not to say the season won’t pick up as it continues. Stephanie told Glamour that so much of the new reboot is “nuts,” so maybe they were just table-setting in the premiere. There were some things that needed clarifying—like why actress Mischa Barton was added to the cast. Apparently, she was a part of The Hills gang’s social circle back in the day, so her presence here isn’t totally random. She only had one scene in the premiere with Stephanie, and it was quite interesting. Mischa didn’t say much—just that she was getting used to life in L.A. again—but she was extremely natural for someone who’s never done reality TV before. Perhaps more natural than some of her veteran co-stars.