The O.C. was an instant sensation when it premiered in August 2003. It also raised an important question: Who were these entitled teens basking in the sun and surf in California? Were they based on a blessed community of people who actually exist? Yes, that they were.
MTV heard our silent prayer and answered our questions when Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County premiered 10 years ago. It all started with “A Black and White Affair.” The first episode established the show’s central love triangle (Lauren a.k.a. “L.C.,” Stephen, and Kristin) and how the residents of Laguna spent their time (hanging out at each other’s houses, planning swanky theme parties, attending said affairs, and then meeting up to recap what happened the night before).
Laguna Beach was untrod territory for reality shows. Cast members weren’t competing to survive on an island or become America’s next singing sensation. It’s closest relative was MTV’s other stalwart franchise, The Real World. However, on Laguna, the characters weren’t all trapped in a house and forced to interact with one another. Here, the camera acted as an omniscient observer, letting the drama unfold in a way that’s both compelling and mesmerizing. Hence, the enduring popularity of MTV's rebroadcasts as part of its RetroMTV programming block.
As the show progressed and spun off into The Hills and The City, cast members became tabloid fixtures. Producers chose not to include their increasing level of fame in the show, so the “reality” aspect became more and more implausible. Regardless, Lauren Conrad, Kristin Cavallari, Stephen Colletti, and their friends from Laguna Beach are all real people. Watching them live their lives in sunny California taught us some important lessons about our own. These are just a few of them — the rest is still unwritten.