Nearly 10 years after the infamous ending to “The Hills” rocked MTV, the iconic reality TV series is back with a new revival.
“The Hills: New Beginnings” reunites much of the show’s original cast, including the once-villainous Pencer and Heidi Pratt, the Kardashian-adjacent Brody Jenner, Audrina Patridge and her on-again-off-again flame Justin “Bobby” Brescia and “The City” star Whitney Port. It also adds a couple of big name newcomers to its cast in “The O.C.” alum Mischa Barton and Brandon Lee, son of Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee.
In the intervening years, much of the cast’s wild youth has been spent and the first half of the “New Beginnings” premiere was reserved for reflecting on all the major life changes since the Hollywood backdrop was rolled away.
The Pratts moved to Costa Rica to escape public scrutiny (before leveraging their celebrity on social media and then returning to L.A. where Spencer hopes to regain the heights of his fame), Patridge has been both married and divorced, Jenner’s father came out as transgender, and many of the other castmembers have careers outside the realm of reality TV. Almost all of them have babies, though Jenner hopes to put off giving up his freedom for a child a while longer.
The episode introduced the audience to Jenner’s wife, Kaitlynn Carter, with a lovely conversation in which Jenner accuses her of being a “nightmare” because he comes home too late from his DJ gigs at the club.
“While I don’t have kids, I’m going to pretty much do what I want to do and live for myself as opposed to living for another human being,” Jenner said to the camera. “I think that’s why she wants kids so bad, because she wants me to change in that way.”
The two storylines that loomed over the premiere, and will likely persist throughout the rest of the season, are Patridge’s potential romantic reunion with Brescia, and Spencer’s falling out with his sister, Stephanie Pratt.
“It seems like every time she goes to London, she starts saying nasty negative things about us [to the press], and I don’t want to be a part of it,” Heidi said, reduced to tears at the prospect of seeing her sister-in-law again.
While the Pratt siblings didn’t get a chance to reconnect in the premiere, Patridge and Brescia sat down for a candlelit dinner toward the end of the episode and gazed longingly at each other while reflecting about the “connection” they used to have, ignoring the fact that they used to also frequently make each other absolutely miserable.
“Justin and I have this chemistry where we understand each other and care about each other, and no one can take that away from us,” Patridge said, in between lamenting her terrible relationship with her ex-husband to Brescia across the table. “I don’t think he was the love of your life,” Brescia said, consoling.
Later Patridge said to Carter that she’s “open to dating” this long after the divorce, and when Carter suggested that “the best rebounds are exes,” Patridge simply offered a nervous laugh and a noncommittal, “Yeah.”
Elsewhere in the episode, Lee and Barton got their own brief introductions, with Lee getting a rare visit from his mother (“She moved to France when Trump got elected and was just like, ‘Peace out.'”) and explaining that he has a somewhat tenuous relationship with his father.
“Me and my dad have had our ups and down, for sure,” Lee said. “I’m a lot like him, but that doesn’t mean I have to be like him.”
Barton, who skyrocketed to fame at 18 years old with “The O.C.,” explained that she moved back to L.A. to regroup with her friends, but has some reservations about returning to the city where she was once hounded by paparazzi and tormented by her notoriety.
“I wasn’t prepared for that level of fame,” she said. “I’ve had a couple of really bad things happen to me here. I thought that I needed to get away from L.A. for a while.”