Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The City: Just Another Spinoff?

And so it begins, with a reality show documenting the complicated lives of teenagers in the affluent Orange County. Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County is the mother of MTVs’ pseudo-reality shows like The Hills, Bromance and The City. The most recent spinoff, The City, captures Los Angeles native and former The Hills costar, Whitney Port, in a journey of love, independence and self-discovery. What allegedly makes this spinoff different from Laguna Beach, The Hills and Bromance? Location.

The City takes Whitney far from the nicely paved boulevards of sunny California and places her in the mean and grimy streets of New York; in a city where “nothing is what it seems”—or so the promos advertise. While working for fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg, Whitney has to find an apartment, maintain a complicated relationship and above all else, deal with the ruthless people and the cutthroat nature of New York.

All features to make this spinoff original are there—a different location, a new reality star, and the accompanying fresh drama. But the show is far from innovative. Though there is a new star, Whitney faces problems akin to her best friend Lauren Conrad, star of The Hills. There is boy drama (Aussie rocker Jay replaces the untrustworthy Brody from The Hills), there is girl trouble (socialite Olivia replaces brainwashed Heidi) and there are countless trips to extravagant clubs and eateries.

Though MTV markets The City as raw and true, it comes nowhere near. Whitney, earning $20,000 per episode, is wealthy. So although this Los Angeles native is placed in one of America’s most ruthless city, her problems are far from what real New Yorkers experience. The City, like The Hills and Laguna Beach, captures the trivial troubles and exaggerated drama of an affluent Californian—the change in location is not “what it seems,” it is a negligible twist that fails to save the show from becoming just another spinoff.
-Adriana Campos

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