Dubbed as “the real Orange County,” Laguna Beach follows around several teenage residents of a wealthy Californian community as they spend their money, go on a trip (every three episodes or so), and generally experience the love and angst that go along with adolescence. The reality show combines elements of The Real World and The OC but adds a new element of reality to the voyeuristic TV that has become so popularized in the last five years.
The first season of the show primarily chronicles the adventures of a group of friends as they enjoy their summer. From Cabo to Catalina, to prom and graduation day, the kids experience what normal teens do… except with an unparalleled degree of wealth and social awareness.
The first season attempts to develop each person’s character as the viewer learns about the conflict between primary protagonist Lauren Conrad (LC) and Kristen Cavalleri as they wage a silent cold war to win the affections of surfer Stephen Coletti. This love triangle is the main plot of the first season as the other characters serve only as subplots to the key questions that include “what really happened between Stephen and LC in Cabo” and “Is Kristen really that bitchy?” The result is your standard teen melodrama.
The addictive nature of the show can be attributed to the beautiful cast rarely wearing much clothing and truly enjoying the money of their parents. While this sounds cliche and a truly trivial admission to admit to watching, it truly is a consuming show. Ironically enough, consumption is one of the show’s key themes as each character uses everything that life has afforded them to attempt to achieve the ultimate happiness.
For Christina, it is using a mother’s connection to get a casting agent to agree to let her audition for a Broadway show.
For Trey, it is his his wealthy background to start a youth movement to attempt to influence the way the world works.
For Kristen and Lauren, it is attending every societal function that the group plans and using these parties to secure more facetime with Stephen.
The result is a show that combines all the elements of popular culture. Love triangles. Buying new cars. Bitter break-ups. Drunken tomfoolery in Mexico. While the show combines a little bit of 90210, with a splash of Dawson’s Creek and a sprinkle of Melrose Place it still manages to remain original because these are real people and each show was not scripted.
Episode 1 – A Black And White Affair
The first episode introduces all of the major characters and the show’s title narrator, LC. The debut wastes no time in establishing the rivalry between LC and Kristen as they all attend a party where Kristen’s dress makes a big impression.
Episode 2 – The Bonfire
The second episode shows hints of Stephen’s jealousy when Kristen begins to receive phone calls from another guy and LC and Lo attend Trey’s AYA (Active Young America) Open Mic Night.
Episode 3 – Fast Cars & Fast Women
LC, Stephen and Trey attend a fashion show in LA while Kristen experiences some car trouble back in Laguna.
Episode 4 – Eighteen Candles
A fascinating episode as Morgan throws Christina a birthday party, but decides against inviting LC and Lo. When the quartet run into each other at the salon, hilarity ensues as the show examines the concept of keeping up Californian appearances.
Episode 5 – What Happens In Cabo…
Without question, the best episode of the season as a spring break trip leads to total chaos. That’s all that can be said without ruining the surprise.
Episode 6 – The Best Part of Breaking Up
Kristen invites Stephen to a Blink 182 concert and the rest of the gang happens to show up as well. When a confrontation happens after the concert, Trey steps up to defend the honor of his female friends.
Episode 7 – The Last Dance
Prom time! Who is going with who? Who can ask their date out in the most romantic fashion? How will everyone fit into the limo?! Only in Laguna Beach.
Episode 8 – Grin & Bear It
When the group charters a boat to visit Catalina, Lo decides to bail at the last minute leaving LC without any allies as she watches Kristen and Stephen continue their PDA’s (public displays of affection). Lo doesn’t miss out though as LC’s definition of “roughing it” involves calling Lo with updates every few hours.
Episode 9 – Graduation Day
Just like any other last day of school, the episode is filled with tears, cheers, jeers and beers. When a video yearbook is planned, the seniors get to reveal their true personalities to the camera.
Episode 10 – The First To Go
The group starts to deal with the reality that they will now have to split. A final barbeque at Trey’s house paves the way for the final separation.
Episode 11 – Dunzo
What will happen to the Kristen/LC/Stephen triangle? Will any answers be revealed in the show’s finale?
The video is given in widescreen color with an aspect ratio of 1.78:1. Transfer is decent with minimal distortion. Colors look bright.
The audio included is in English Dolby digital stereo sound. The audio track is dialogue driven. There is a lot of music from artists like Hilary Duff, Blink 182, Michelle Branch, and more. I actually didn’t like the sound quality because many of the whispering conversations were very hard to hear and I had to turn the volume up to full blast to make everything out.
Special Features –
The special features are included in the third disc of the three-disc box set. They include deleted scenes, cast interviews, and casting tapes. Featurettes include LC’s house tour, Lo’s Guide To Shopping in Laguna and Behind-The-Scenes of the finale with Kristin and Trey. Laguna Beach Highlights (focusing primarily on the love triangle), Music Videos, and a preview of season two are also included.
The deleted scenes are weak because they do not really offer anything that the final episode cuts didn’t. The featurettes were great because they gave a deeper look into the contestant’s personalities. I especially liked LC’s tour of her home. It gave the show a kind of Cribs-like feel. The same can be said for Lo’s shopping tips and the cast interviews where the contestants answered posed questions without make-up or the glare of a camera being pointed at them.
The special features also include a VIP membership to the Laguna Beach Surf Club online at MTV.com where access to more photos, blogs, ringtones and never-before-seen videos are given with the purchase of the DVD.