'The Hills': A Beginner's Guide

What to know if you're not up to speed with MTV's hit reality show.

ByABC News
February 10, 2009, 8:40 AM

March 24, 2008 — -- Maybe you've seen this Lauren Conrad character on magazine covers at the checkout counter. Maybe you've come across a "Heidi and Spence Split!!!" headline on some gossip blog. Maybe your kids can't stop talking about it.

Regardless, if you haven't watched it, you're probably wondering: What is "The Hills" and why should I care about it?

In short: It's MTV's 2-year-old, ultra-popular reality show about four rich, beautiful 20-somethings trying to find themselves in Los Angeles.

The dialogue will make you appreciate the talents of Hollywood's back-at-work writers and the "reality" it depicts is clearly contrived by producers.

But it's a fascinating look what qualifies for fame in the age of TMZ and how banal the lives of the supposedly fabulous can be.

And it's coming back with a batch of new episodes tonight. So lest you be struck dumb at the proverbial water cooler Tuesday morning, read on to get up to speed on the women of the "The Hills" without sitting through one of MTV's mind-numbing marathons.

It all started with Lauren Conrad, the 22-year-old petite blonde who co-starred in the first two seasons of MTV's reality-soap about privileged west coast high schoolers, "Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County."

In 2006, after leaving Laguna to pursue a degree from L.A.'s Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising, Conrad was approached by MTV producers interested in making her the star of a reality show based on her hooking up, going out and furthering her fashion career (pretty much in that order).

And so, in the first season of "The Hills," cameras followed Conrad as she moved into a tony L.A. townhouse with her latest best friend, Heidi Montag (more on her later).

When she wasn't agonizing over whether her on-again, off-again boyfriend, Jason Wahler, was the love of her life or the scum of the earth, Conrad spent her days at FIDM and the offices of Teen Vogue, where she interned, and her nights on the town at L.A.'s hottest clubs.

At the end of her internship (which conveniently coincided with the end of the "Hills" season) Conrad was presented a choice: spend the summer in Paris with her Teen Vogue editor, or waste away in a beach house with Wahler. She picked the guy; their relationship ended for good soon after.