Reality TV has changed dramatically since The Hills signed off, says Allie Jones. "In 2019, television is just one component of the average reality star’s media output. Most stars now broadcast their daily lives on Instagram Stories or YouTube, and the story lines that appear on their shows have often already played out for the public on social media or in the tabloids. The subsequent reality show episode isn’t exactly what really happened—it’s more so a tool in narrative crafting." Jones adds that The Hills was the perfect show in its time. "Was there ever a better reality show than The Hills?" she says. "It had everything: Hollywood club scenes, mascara tears, a hairdresser named Justin Bobby, really dumb quotes, Ryan Cabrera for some reason. It was shot in what I thought at the time was a very beautiful way, with Lauren Conrad speeding down the 101 in a black BMW convertible, her sunny highlights streaming in the wind. It was a fantasy better than any Disney movie. Sure, it probably should have ended with Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt’s wedding in Season 5, and yes, it’s difficult to acknowledge the two extra seasons starring Conrad’s Laguna Beach rival Kristin Cavallari as canon. But still, The Hills was a unique treasure, a monument to the culture of Hollywood in the mid-aughts. And now, nine years after the series finale, MTV is bringing it back. Hmm."
MTV head of development Lily Neumeyer compares The Hills and Jersey Shore to novels: "We’ve been talking a lot at MTV about the properties with (intellectual property) that we had," says Neumeyer. "In the world with so much content, our brands with IP have the advantage of having high recognition in pop culture, so we always knew we had a lot of value. With The Hills, in the same way that we did with Jersey Shore, we consider the shows based on specific characters like novels — you read a chapter about people in their 20s and then the next chapter is in their 30s. That’s how we approached The Hills. They’re out of that stage of their lives, and now in another stage of their lives just like our viewers, so it seemed like a no-brainer to bring back the same characters and see the new experiences that they’ve had in their lives, now that they’re out of their 20s."
Why MTV added Mischa Barton to The Hills: "Brody (Jenner) and Mischa used to hang out in the same Hollywood circles because they were around the same age, so we thought she would be good because of that, and she also has an amazing story," says Neumeyer. "She’s very open to tell her story."