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Archive for Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Laguna Beach’ a shallow place

August 16, 2006

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"Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County" (9 p.m., MTV) enters its third season tonight, promising more drama, intrigue and scenes of up-talking shopaholic teens using the word "random" inappropriately.

Teenage girls with names like Tessa, Kyndra, Cami and Lexie live on camera and share all of their dreams and schemes. Most of these plans appear to involve making other girls miserable or stealing their boyfriends, or pretending to steal their boyfriends.

When not arranging their "love" lives like the board game Risk or the plot to "Dangerous Liaisons," these girls throw parties and wonder who will be the most hurt by not getting invited.

When I was in my teens, I got around on something called a Schwinn, spent a lot of time playing Risk and passed my idle hours at something we once referred to as "a job." These kids drive imported luxury cars and charge endless lunches at what look like fancy bars and restaurants.

The guys, or rather dudes, on "Laguna" behave in a more timeless manner. They spend a lot of time worrying about their band, their sports or themselves. Sometimes they blurt out things that make the girls upset without really knowing why.

Like nearly every teen on "Laguna," Tessa has the emotional hide and attitude of a woman twice her age, one who has gone through at least three divorces. This is deeply sad, but not terribly interesting.

The utter fakeness of "Laguna" and imitators like "One Ocean View" also demonstrate how the documentary form has surpassed scripted television in formulaic predictability.

After all, viewers turned to "The Real World" because teen dramas like "Beverly Hills, 90210" had become soap operas starring 30-year-old actors playing teens. Life and "Laguna" appear to have come full circle.

Tonight's other highlights

¢ The final nine acts will perform before David Hasselhoff, Brandy and Piers Morgan on "America's Got Talent" (7 p.m., NBC).

¢ A winner emerges on "So You Think You Can Dance" (7 p.m., Fox).

¢ A killer is driven by his fantasies on "Criminal Minds" (8 p.m., CBS).

¢ A human fly finds himself squashed on "CSI: NY" (9 p.m., CBS).

¢ McCoy takes a grave risk on "Law & Order" (9 p.m., NBC).

¢ Scheduled on "Primetime" (9 p.m., ABC): medical mysteries.

¢ Nobody wants to hear the phrase "Auf Wiedersehen" on "Project Runway" (9 p.m., Bravo).

¢ A gruff and quick-to-anger Jersey guy spends a month under the ministry of a New Age healer on "30 Days" (9 p.m., FX).

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