The Drama on 'The Hills' Keeps Climbing

Sex-tape rumors, a pregnancy scare, backstabbing friends -- it's all in a day of the life of the cast of MTV reality hit "The Hills." The hard-partying Hollywood Hills friends live in the spotlight, treating viewers to three seasons of drama and crossing over from TV to the tabloids. "To see the rawness of the vitriol is pretty engrossing," says Us Weekly's Janice Min. Not to mention they are "an incredibly attractive group." Gearing up for Monday's season finale (10 ET/PT), USA TODAY examines the cast's appeal.

Lauren Conrad, 21

"Hills" history: After graduating high school and following a stint in San Francisco,Laguna Beach alumna and queen bee Conrad set off to live in L.A. andintern at Teen Vogue; attends fashion school and is a budding designer with her own expensive clothing line, Lauren Conrad Collection.

Tabloid fodder: Ongoing feud with Montag and Pratt; relationship rumors; weight loss, workout and style tips. Rarely misses a party or opening, and was recently spotted dining witha pregnant Nicole Richie.

Popularity factors: "She has almost an everywoman quality about her," says Min. "She hasn't gone to the dark side yet like other reality stars, and she seems to be handling her height and status with grace." However, some viewers "will say she's inflexible with her friends and judges them too harshly," says Min.

Heidi Montag, 21

"Hills" history: Conrad's original roommate and best friend until she began dating and subsequently moved in with Pratt. Has been accused of aiding a sex-tape rumor about Conrad and her ex-boyfriend, Laguna Beach alum Jason Wahler; also starting a clothing line.

Tabloid fodder: Ongoing feud with Conrad; plastic surgery; rocky relationship rumors. This season, Montag and Pratt have been bickering over their upcoming wedding.

Popularity factors: Along with Pratt, "they're good-looking, photogenic, do fun things and love the camera," says Min. "I think there are a lot of women who watch and they just want to shake Heidi" for being involved with Pratt.

Audrina Patridge, 22

"Hills" history: Conrad's best bud and roommate who moved in after Montag moved out; works at Epic Records. (A spoof on stars James Franco and Mila Kunis as Audrina and boyfriend Justin Bobby having one of their tortured, endless discussions about their relationship.)

Tabloid fodder: Out and about with Conrad and Port, she hits parties, fashion shows, etc.; her on-again, off-again relationship with Justin Bobby, whom Conrad is not especially fond of.

Popularity factors: Min says Conrad's pals have their own cult following. "They're young, fun, essentially nice girls. They live this life that you can read about — they have the clothes, the attitude, the boys, the cars. It's fun for people to think of these three as real girlfriends for women who are in similar situations, starting out in a career and moving out on your own."

Whitney Port, 22

"Hills" history: Former fellow intern of Conrad's, Port now works full time at Teen Vogue and is Conrad's supervisor. She eagerly eats up Conrad's tales of her romantic travails while atthe office.

Tabloid fodder: Out and about with Conrad and Patridge, she hits parties, fashion shows, etc. Spotted drinking and partying hard at TV Guide's Emmy post-party this year, and left leaning on Partridge.

Popularity factors: "People think she's sort of smart and sensible and less emotional than the others, and perhaps has a cooler head," says Min.

Spencer Pratt, 24

"Hills" history: Montag's fiancé and Svengali, Conrad's nemesis; wants to be a billionaire before 30, he told Radar magazine. He manages Montag -- who's aspiring to a music career -- and was recently spotted shooting her video on the beach. Insists he's just a misunderstood nice guy.

Tabloid fodder: Ongoing feud with Conrad; accused of spreading sex-tape rumors; authenticity of engagement/engagement ring with Montag. He's the reason Montag and Conrad became frenemies: Conrad loathed him, and Montag chose him over her.

Popularity factors: Min refers to Pratt as "the most hated man on television, the man everyone loves to hate." She says "he's integral to the show. Without Spencer, you don't have thattension," adding that "he seemsinsanely devoted to Heidi." On meeting Pratt: "He was lovely and charming in person," Min says.