Say what you will about Kristin Cavallari, there’s no denying that she makes for great television. Since first appearing as the villain of MTV’s Laguna Beach in 2004 — and yes, she was presented as the villain of the series, even if Stephen Colletti really deserved that honor — Cavallari has lit up the world of reality TV with her unique blend of humor and general DGAF-ness, two traits that served her well as she transitioned from Laguna to The Hills, and later to her own E! show, Very Cavallari.
With The Hills: New Beginnings kicking off its second season this week, Cavallari is set to return to her MTV roots as a guest star on the revival, where she'll be reunited with her former castmates Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt, Audrina Patridge, and Brody Jenner. Cavallari will only be appearing in a few Season 2 episodes, but MTV would be wise to expand her role. After a lackluster first season, The Hills: New Beginnings has a unique opportunity to energize its fan base with a TV-savvy star capable of stirring up all kinds of drama, from the romantic to the petty.
Cavallari’s foray into reality TV was about as auspicious as it gets. From her first introduction on Laguna Beach — “Wherever Kristin went, drama followed,” narrator Lauren Conrad reveals in the premiere — it was clear that she was the personality to watch, both for viewers and for LC. Throughout the show’s first season, the then-high school junior displayed the self-confidence and stunning lack of self-awareness that play so well on TV, and she quickly became a breakout “love to hate them”-style star.
Even Conrad couldn’t deny Cavallari’s magnetism. “Kristin, no matter how much you hate her, she’s always fun to hang out with,” the MTV star told The New York Times in August 2005, halfway through Laguna’s second season.
That same year, MTV capitalized on Cavallari’s infamy and shifted her into the narrator role when Conrad went away to college. The move changed the entire dynamic of Laguna, as Cavallari became viewers’ entry point into the show, but the charismatic teenage star handled the increased responsibility with ease. Higher ratings followed, with Season 2 episodes averaging 3.1 million viewers, up from 2.2 million for Season 1, per Nielsen.
It’s odd to describe a reality star as having “range,” but if anyone does, it's Cavallari. In 2009, almost four years after she said goodbye to Laguna Beach and headed to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career, MTV recruited their proven star to replace — who else? — Lauren Conrad on The Hills. At first it seemed as if The Hills would revert to its tried-and-true formula of using Cavallari as a villain (her dramatic entrance at Spencer Pratt and Heidi Montag’s wedding, the Season 5 midseason finale, was played for shock value), but despite a brief tiff with Audrina Patridge over Justin Bobby Brescia, by the beginning of Season 6 she had become “mutual friend to all”. With friendship drama out of the picture, producers instead relied on her on-again, off-again relationship with ex-boyfriend Brody Jenner for conflict, a storyline she later confessed was fake, but was nevertheless entertaining in the way that watching two hot people flirt is enjoyable.
Cavallari’s reality TV dominance continued with the premiere of Very Cavallari on E!. The series, which ran for three seasons from 2018 to 2020, showcased Kristin’s life in Nashville, Tennessee, her marriage to ex-NFL quarterback Jay Cutler (the two have since separated), and the growth of her jewelry line, Uncommon James. It’s no exaggeration to say that the internet ate up Cavallari’s new show, which showcased her sense of humor and considerable skill as a business owner. It also featured some ridiculous behavior from Cutler, another member of the “love to hate them” pantheon, who added a new level of intrigue to Cavallari’s story.
Villain, friend, rival, romantic lead, businesswoman, wife, mother.. when it comes to on-screen drama, Kristin Cavallari has done it all, which makes her casting on The Hills: New Beginnings a no-brainer. No disrespect to Audrina, Justin Bobby, Heidi, Spencer, or Brody, but when the most exciting part of your high-profile revival is a cameo from Pamela Anderson (mother of new cast member Brandon Lee), it’s time to retool.
One could argue that every reality show would benefit from more Kristin Cavallari, but in this case, a little bit of K.C. magic is exactly what The Hills: New Beginnings needs to recapture what made the original franchise so special. A fun, relevant reality show is so close you can almost taste it… but MTV, only you can make it happen by convincing Cavallari to join the show full-time. Here's hoping Season 2 is a first step in that direction.
The Hills: New Beginnings Season 2 premieres Wednesday, May 12 at 9/8c on MTV.
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Claire Spellberg Lustig is the TV Editor at Primetimer and a scholar of The View. Follow her on Twitter at @c_spellberg.