When "The Hills" premiered on May 31, 2006, the series wasted no time featuring its star Lauren Conrad, as the show opened with a shot of the heroine haphazardly packing her bags and leaving the small town of Laguna Beach behind her. Ahead lay the promise of fashion school, an apartment with her "good friend" Heidi Montag, an interview for an internship at Teen Vogue and the chance to make all her dreams come true in Los Angeles.
That first scene might have been where the reality started and stopped. Over four years, “The Hills” ran for six seasons and aired 102 episodes, and although it was supposed to be “unwritten,” it was mainly scripted. In all that time, the show never acknowledged the fact that its cast members weren’t just attractive 20-somethings with cool jobs, but they were actually super-famous tabloid darlings. It was a conscious decision on MTV’s part, but had the series actually included that little detail, it would have made a lot more sense as to why Conrad would be so furious with Spencer Pratt for starting that sex-tape rumor -- since there would have been much bigger consequences (and an interested audience) for an actual celebrity.
“The Hills” blurred reality at every turn -- and no one was better at it than Montag and Pratt. The couple, known as Speidi, have already detailed how some of their most dramatic TV moments were staged, reshot and dramatized for TV. They counted on being famous forever, but when the show was canceled they struggled to stay relevant and famously blew through around $10 million.
When The Huffington Post spoke to Montag last month about her latest reality show, "The Mother/Daughter Experiment," the 29-year-old also took a moment to reminisce with us about the “The Hills." After chatting with her, it didn't seem right to let the show's 10-year anniversary pass by without calling up her husband as well. Here's what we learned after talking with Speidi:
From the first episode, there was a clear juxtaposition between Lauren Conrad and Heidi Montag -- Conrad was the golden girl and Montag was just there to party. Montag wasn't surprised that producers made her the villain.
"I definitely was not surprised. It was Lauren's show and I knew that from the beginning,” she told HuffPost. “I was thankful to be on it. It was part of the territory that comes along with [reality TV]. And I knew that, going into it, she would always be the Mary Tyler Moore of that show.”
The show had plenty of drama, but Spencer Pratt still thinks "every single good thing" was cut from "The Hills."
"The creator [Adam DiVello] totally lost the plot and was trying to make his own version of 'Gossip Girl' because he wasn't talented enough to make his own show, so he was pretty much plagiarizing 'Sex and the City' and 'Gossip Girl' and trying to make his own versions of those," Pratt told us.
Pratt says he made too much money to complain about being manipulated by producers, even though he definitely was.
"But it was always like, ‘We’re going to do this and then we're going to redeem you.' If I had a dollar for every time I heard, ‘We're going to redeem you guys.’ It was a broken record. I don't think I ever got redeemed,” Pratt said. “In retrospect, I think I wouldn’t have done any of their stuff and just … I was making so much money. If we were going to play fake make-believe, I should have just hired some A-list top freaking writers to write my shit for me.”
Pratt never watched "The Hills" ...
"I didn't watch the show. If you are on a reality show and you care how you look in the long term, you should watch it," Pratt explained. "But I knew if I watched it I would have been twice as angry. I probably would have quit."
... But his friends were definitely tuned in.
"That's the problem, the friends I have are not they type of people who you want to go off of their good judgement. So the calls I would get every now and then were like, 'This is amazing, Pratt. OMG. Keep it up.' I have enablers in my life, so I definitely didn't have anyone who was like, 'Spencer, you should definitely think about what you are doing here,'" he said.
At the height of his fame, Pratt says he was making around $130,000 an episode on the MTV series.
"I mean, I was spending it before I even got it. So it was a dangerous game," he told HuffPost. "I bet L.C. was probably making like $200,000 [an episode]. So the fact that she quit to go do a blog is the most mind-boggling thing that I will never understand, but to each his own."
That $70,000 crystal Pratt told Broadly he purchased sounds even more insane than previously imagined.
"It’s from a volcano in Peru. I got laser lights put into it, but now it's like a super-duper disco crystal," he said.
And if Pratt gave you one of his healing crystals that he bought to help Montag while she was recovering from 10 cosmetic surgeries, well, he'd like them back now.
"That was my other biggest problem. I used to give away all my crystals to strangers, to anyone. So if anyone is reading this and you have one of my crystals, I will take it back if you don't want it," he said, adding, "Because that was the dumbest thing I was doing, handing out thousand-dollar stones and being like, 'Oh, you need this, it's going to help your energy.' It's like, 'No, it won't. It will help me. Give it back.'"
Montag wishes the couple saved their money, but she believes things happen for a reason.
“Maybe it wouldn't have been better in the long run and I think we actually learned a lot of lessons and were very humbled -- we just needed a little humility,” she told us. "You know, I think I did the best I could, honestly. I think I was so young, I think I had so much pressure and I didn't really have anyone in my corner, except Spencer."
And after everything -- the fights, the drama, the painful plastic surgeries -- she's still thankful for "The Hills."
"I'm thankful for that experience, I am thankful for 'The Hills,' and I'm mostly thankful for my husband. The love of my life. I couldn't find that anywhere else. That's the most precious thing possible. I would do all of that exactly the same way again to have my husband," she said.
Pratt also isn't big on regrets, but he wishes he enjoyed fame while it lasted.
“If I could go back, we would have just released 'Body Language' and not put any energy in trying to make a pop music career, because it took our total focus off of living in the present,” he said. “We should have been appreciating being famous. Now we see it as, that was only 15 minutes. Like, instead of being in a recording studio, we should have been in the clubs, doing jet-setter shit. I love Heidi's music and I think it's great, but I think it took our eyes off the prize and we should have been doing more paparazzi set-ups than hanging out in some dark recording studio eating In-N-Out burgers.”