The Real Orange County
|Created by||Liz Gateley|
|Opening theme||"Come Clean" by Hilary Duff|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||3|
|No. of episodes||43|
|Production location(s)||Laguna Beach, California|
|Running time||30 minutes|
|Production||Go Go Luckey Productions|
|Distributor||Trifecta Entertainment & Media|
|Picture format||16:9 480i|
|Original release||September 28, 2004 -|
November 15, 2006
Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County (or simply Laguna Beach) is an American reality television series that originally aired on MTV from September 28, 2004 until November 15, 2006. The series aired for three seasons and was primarily focused on the personal lives of several students attending Laguna Beach High School. Its premise was originated with Liz Gateley, while Tony DiSanto served as the executive producer.
The series was originally narrated by Lauren Conrad as she completed her senior year of high school. It additionally placed emphasis on her classmates Lo Bosworth, Stephen Colletti, Morgan Olsen, Trey Phillips, Christina Schuller, and juniors Kristin Cavallari and Talan Torriero. The second season was narrated by Cavallari, and saw the additions of Taylor Cole, Alex Murrel, Jessica Smith, and Jason Wahler. Upon its conclusion, all cast members departed from the series and were replaced by a group of current students. The third season was narrated by Tessa Keller, and also showcased Cameron Brinkman, Breanna Conrad, Lexie Contursi, Raquel Donatelli, Cami Edwards, Kelan Hurley, Chase Johnson, and Kyndra Mayo.
Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County received moderately favorable reviews from critics, and has been recognized as a "guilty pleasure" by several media outlets. However, the series was often criticized for tending towards a narrative format more commonly seen in scripted genres including soap operas, and appearing to fabricate much of its storyline. The show has produced several spin-offs, most notably The Hills, which chronicled Lauren Conrad's personal and professional life after moving to Los Angeles to pursue a career in the fashion industry. The first two seasons of Laguna Beach were released on DVD; the third season was only available in Australia and the UK.
Created by Liz Gateley in 2004, Laguna Beach was originally planned to document a group of students' on-campus lives as they completed their secondary education at Laguna Beach High School. However, after an incident during the halftime show of Super Bowl XXXVIII briefly exposed the breast of performer Janet Jackson, the school board questioned if the network, who produced the event, held the care necessary to operate in an academic setting. Subsequently, their contract was ended, effectively jeopardizing the feasibility of the series' concept.
Laguna Beach chronicles the lives of several students attending Laguna Beach High School. Every installment commences with a voice-over narrative from series leads Lauren Conrad (season 1), Kristin Cavallari (season 2), and Tessa Keller (season 3) foreshadowing the theme of the episode. Each season concludes with a finale, typically involving a major event such as a progressing relationship or a personnel departure. Most installments revolve around the students' everyday lives, but the show puts emphasis on their personal, rather than academic, lives.
Throughout its run, the series was led by seven (season 1), eight (season 2), and nine (season 3) primary cast members, who were credited by their first names. Its original main cast members were Conrad, Cavallari, Lo Bosworth, Stephen Colletti, Morgan Olsen, Trey Phillips, Christina Schuller, and Talan Torriero. The second season saw the additions of Taylor Cole, Alex Murrel, Jessica Smith, and Jason Wahler. By the conclusion of the season, all students had graduated high school, and departed the series before production of the third season began. Consequentially, the program was revamped to showcase an entirely new group of current students.
In its series premiere, Laguna Beach first introduces Lauren Conrad, who with friends Lo Bosworth, Stephen Colletti, Morgan Olsen, Trey Phillips, and Christina Schuller was completing her senior year at Laguna Beach High School. Younger students Kristin Cavallari and Talan Torriero were shown to be finishing their junior year. The first season highlighted the love triangle involving rivals Conrad and Cavallari and their shared love interest Colletti. The latter two eventually began a turbulent romantic relationship. Meanwhile, the close friendship between Bosworth and Conrad provided both with a stabilizing influence, similar to the bond between Olsen and Schuller. Phillips, an advocate for youth community involvement, coordinated a fashion show benefiting the Active Young America organization. Upon the seniors' graduation nearing the season finale, they prepared to leave Laguna Beach as they began their college studies.
By the beginning of the second season, Cavallari became the series' narrator and focal point. She and her friends Jessica Smith and Alex Hooser were involved in a conflict with Alex Murrel and Taylor Cole, though they appeared to have reconciled as the season progressed. Despite preferring to remain single during her senior year, Cavallari wished to continue her friendship with Colletti, though the latter faced difficulty coming to terms with their changed dynamic. Shortly after, Torriero developed romantic feelings for both Cavallari and Cole, though both women were uninterested in beginning a relationship with him. Meanwhile, Jason Wahler dated Smith, Murrel, and Conrad in separate periods during production, though his womanizing tendencies placed a strain on each failed relationship. The season concluded as the recently graduated students prepared to leave for college. Additionally, Conrad was offered and accepted a role on a spin-off series titled, The Hills in which, she moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in the fashion industry.
During the third season, Tessa Keller is established as the series' new narrator and lead position, who is involved in a turbulent relationship with Derek LeBon. She and her friend Rocky Donatelli are feuding with Kyndra Mayo, Cami Edwards, and Nikki Dowers. Keller remains close with Chase Johnson, however, after Donatelli reconciles with her former best friend Breanna Conrad, she becomes estranged from Keller. Johnson and his band Open Air Stereo eventually sign a recording contract with Epic Records. Meanwhile, Smith finds herself in an on-again/off-again relationship with Cameron Brinkman.
The Parents Television Council (PTC) argued that the sexually explicit and profane content in the series makes the show inappropriate for its intended audience. It included the series in its 2004 study on profanity, violence, and sexual content on cable television. Although much of the profane language throughout the series is censored, the PTC pointed out that the context in which the censored words were used made them discernible, which in their view rendered the censorship useless. The PTC also criticized MTV for not including content indicators such as "L" (language) or "S" (sexual content) in addition to its television ratings for the show, a move that prevents viewers from being able to effectively use the V-chip feature found on some televisions to control the broadcast of the show into their homes. MTV airs the show several times during daytime hours in addition to its regular timeslots around 10:00 PM (ET), and the PTC claimed that the adolescents whom MTV is targeting are being exposed to "excessive sexual and profane content through inaccurately rated programs." 
A 2010 study in the journal Economics Letters demonstrated that Laguna Beach caused an increase in crime in the Laguna Beach area. Not only had MTV's show caused an increase in crime, but residents also believed it glorified violence, drug and alcohol abuse, objectification of women and superficiality. Charles Ahlers, the President of the Orange County Visitor and Convention Bureau, argue that the show is positive because it has helped boom the local economy and make Laguna Beach a desirable destination. But these positive aspects seem to be dominated by rejection and negativity from residents. Locals claim that their town is not being depicted how it should be- by the art and culture. The down town strip of ice cream shops and art galleries are being overshadowed by teen drama and partying. During filming days, streets would be stopped with traffic jams and tourists swarming local stores trying to get a glimpse of the teenage cast members.
Laguna Beach was often criticized for appearing to fabricate much of its storyline. In one instance, Cavallari claimed that producers exploited Colletti and Conrad's friendship to exaggerate the love triangle highlighted during the first season. She also alleged that she was treated poorly by producers, which "forced [her] to be a bitch", but stated that her distaste for Conrad was not fabricated.
|First aired||Last aired|
|1||11||September 28, 2004||December 14, 2004|
|2||18||July 25, 2005||November 14, 2005|
|3||16||August 16, 2006||November 15, 2006|
The first season of Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County premiered on September 28, 2004. The series continued to air on Tuesday evenings until its conclusion on December 7, 2004, at which point it had aired eleven episodes. The second season was expanded to seventeen episodes and premiered on July 11, 2005, in its new timeslot on Mondays. The finale aired on November 14, 2005. The third and final season premiered on August 16, 2006, and aired a total of fifteen episodes by its end on November 15, 2006. In July 2012, MTV aired a month-long morning marathon of Laguna Beach, titled "Retro Mania". The following year, the marathon was renamed "RetroMTV Brunch". On August 13, 2016, reruns started to air on MTV's new sister channel MTV Classic. As of December 30, 2016, the series has been removed from the schedule.
In 2006, cast member Lauren Conrad was commissioned her own spin-off series The Hills. The program premiered on May 31, 2006, immediately after the second-season finale of Laguna Beach. For the first five seasons, the series focused on Conrad as she moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in the fashion industry. It additionally placed emphasis on her housemate Heidi Montag and their friends Audrina Patridge and Whitney Port. Initially, Conrad and Montag attended the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising together, though the latter left the college after receiving employment with Bolthouse Productions. Their friendship suffered after Montag began dating and eventually moved into an apartment with Spencer Pratt during the second season; it ended after Conrad suspected that Pratt circulated rumors of a sex tape involving herself and ex-boyfriend Jason Wahler. In the third season, Lo Bosworth became housemates with Conrad and Patridge, which became a distancing factor between the latter two.
By the conclusion of the fourth season, Conrad and Montag appeared to come to common terms, though the former's suspicions continued to inhibit a reconciliation. Meanwhile, Port relocated to New York City to accept a position with Diane von Fürstenberg, at which point she was commissioned the short-lived spin-off series The City. Prior to production of the fifth season, rumors were widespread that Conrad wished to leave the series to pursue other career opportunities. However, producers persuaded her to film ten additional episodes in the following season to close her storylines. She made her final appearance on the series during the midseason finale, where she reconciled with Montag at her wedding to Pratt.Kristin Cavallari assumed the series' lead from the second half of the seasons onward. After airing six seasons and 102 episodes, The Hills ended its run on July 13, 2010. That September, supporting cast member Brody Jenner stated that he had filmed an alternate ending to the series that featured Conrad.
After the third season of the revamped Laguna Beach failed to attain the success of the original format, producers began to search elsewhere for a potential fourth installment of the series. Newport Harbor: The Real Orange County premiered on August 13, 2007, and showcased a group of students attending Newport Harbor High School. The series was narrated by Chrissy Schwartz, and additionally emphasized classmates Clay Adler, Chase Cornwell, Sasha Dunlap, Grant Newman, and Allie Stockton. After the cast and storylines failed to achieve viewer interest, the program was cancelled on January 2, 2008, after broadcasting twelve episodes.
Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County episodes aired regularly on MTV in the United States. Most episodes are approximately thirty minutes, and were broadcast in standard definition. The series' episodes are also available for download at the iTunes Store. Episodes were previously available for viewing through the official MTV website, though they have since become unavailable since the series' conclusion. The series, in addition to The Hills, were premiered in syndication in fall 2009. Since its debut, Paramount Pictures has released the first two seasons of Laguna Beach onto DVD, to regions 1, 2, and 4. Each product includes all episodes of the respective season, in addition to deleted scenes and interviews of series personnel.