In the season finale of ''The Hills,'' Lauren must choose between spending the summer with Jason in Malibu and taking an internship in France

By Jennifer Armstrong
Updated August 03, 2006 at 04:00 AM EDT

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”The Hills”: Lauren must choose Jason or Paris

What is it with Paris that reasonably put-together girls are always ditching it for total drips in finales?

First it was Rachel for Ross; now it’s Lauren for Jason. At least Carrie Bradshaw went to the City of Lights — granted it was for Mikhail Baryshnikov, but at least she made Mr. Big follow her there before she went back with him.

I should back up a little and explain how we got to this very Devil Wears Prada moment. Poor, stressed-out little Lauren was charged with making Teen Vogue editor Amy Astley’s visit from New York for L.A. Fashion Week go smoothly. Which started with her, in her cute trench coat, racing around in a Town Car following unreasonable orders — namely, snagging two last-minute tickets to the Jennifer Nicholson fashion show for some straggling Vogue editors. Coincidentally, or ironically, or whatever you want to call it, Heidi came into two tix for herself and Audrina by sheer dumb luck at work, prompting her to say something truly wise: ”Life in Hollywood is so good.” If there’s anything we’ve learned from this show, it’s that. Or at least that it’s good when you’re relatively clueless 20-year-olds who had an extraordinarily privileged childhood and continue to live large on their parents’ funds while working outrageously glamorous jobs.

When Lauren called Whitney for a little on-phone meltdown and she was all, ”Seriously, I’m just gonna like buy two chairs and throw them in there and see if anyone notices them,” I must say I felt a glimmer of sympathy for the girl despite the aforementioned good fortune. Luckily, no covert measures were necessary. After a pretty ”duh” moment during which Lauren almost forgot the names of the Vogue editors she needed to get those tickets for, she pulled it off (phew), which apparently deeply impressed Amy Astley, thus continuing the Teen Vogue tradition of paying astonishing amounts of attention to interns. Anyway, this got Lauren ”nominated” for a summer internship in Paris. (PS: I love our fave West Coast editor, Lisa Love, signing off her call with ”Au revoir, cherie,” when she summoned Lauren into her office to tell her the good news.) If Lauren took this lofty opportunity, she’d work during Couture Week. ”Paris is probably the single most important place to work in fashion,” Lisa told her. ”Honestly, if you go to Paris, you won’t want to come back.” So it’s down to exchanging occasional grunts in Malibu with Jason or hitting the genuine romance capital of the world for a few months? Talk about ”duh” moments.

Okay, look. I know what it’s like to be 20. I know your relationships then are more about projecting what you want them to be than they are about making reasonable choices. But even my very own 21-year-old sister (who happens to be a fashion student) summed up the episode thusly in a text message: ”Wow. LC is a dumbass.”

Props to Jason (grudgingly), I suppose, for telling her he’d support her decision: ”You’ve always been there for me,” he said, and though I know not what he refers to, I salute the sentiment. Well played, my man. You know that sensitive shtick came out just in time to get her to settle for slumming it at the beach house with him (man, money is good) instead of jetting off to find herself (and, undoubtedly, some studly Frenchman with a keen understanding of American reality television) in Europe.

All I can say is that Heidi, for all her idiocy and total lack of work ethic, as well as the vaguely vacant Whitney, knew what the right call was here. They both tried, gently, to urge Lauren to have some balls. ”You’ve gotta do it, right?” Whitney said. ”That’s like a huge deal!” Heidi said.

But to no avail. ”I think she knows what she wants,” Heidi said knowingly to Audrina, as if their pal were making some brave choice. It’s just a shame that Lauren will have to watch this on DVD someday and remember, in vivid detail, how she turned down this life-changing experience. I can’t imagine having to relive all my totally dumb early-20s moments, honestly, which is among the reasons why no one made a reality show about my life.

The suspense-building sequence, though — the bit with Lauren going somewhere undetermined, with Lisa Love waiting at the airport (what the hell was she doing, anyway?), and with Jason waiting at the beach house — that was pure producer brilliance. Anybody doubting the genius of this show and its maddeningly riveting forebear, Laguna Beach, need only watch this to understand. I have to admit it: I’m pretty psyched to head back down to ”the real Orange County” for a new run in two weeks. But I’m more than bummed that the next season of Lauren’s adventures won’t be The Hills: Paris.

Episode Recaps

What do you think? Was it all too fake, even by reality-TV standards? If it wasn’t, is there any way Lauren will ever look back at this as the right decision? And are you planning to tune in to the new season of Laguna Beach?

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