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Underrated and Overrated TV Shows of the 2000s: Why The Hills Was a Cultural Phenomenon, But Not a Great Show


The 2000s were a decade of iconic television shows, from Friends to Breaking Bad. Some shows became beloved classics, while others never quite reached their full potential. However, there are also shows that were overrated but still attracted a loyal following – one of those being The Hills.

What was The Hills?

The Hills was a reality TV show that aired on MTV from 2006 to 2010. It was a spin-off of the popular reality show, Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County, and followed the lives of young adults living in Los Angeles. The show depicted their struggles with work, relationships, and drama, fueled by the glitz and glamour of Hollywood.

What made The Hills a cultural phenomenon?

The Hills captured a certain essence of early 2000s culture – a time when social media was just starting to take off and individuals were increasingly interested in celebrities’ everyday lives. Young people were fascinated by the show’s characters, who had perfectly curated looks, glamorous jobs, and seemingly carefree lives. It was a guilty pleasure for viewers who loved the drama but also wanted to stay up to date with the latest fashion trends and LA hotspots.

Why was The Hills overrated?

Despite its popularity, The Hills was overrated and not a great TV show. Here are a few reasons why:

1. The show was heavily scripted.

Many viewers were unaware that The Hills was heavily scripted, with most scenes being rehearsed and re-shot multiple times for the sake of better storytelling. The show was marketed as a “reality” show, when in reality, it was more like a soap opera. This lack of authenticity made it difficult for some viewers to connect emotionally with the characters or invested in their storylines.

2. The characters were shallow and unrelatable.

The characters on The Hills were often criticized for being one-dimensional and vapid. They were portrayed as more concerned with their image and status than their relationships or personal development. While this may have been entertaining to some viewers, it didn’t exactly make for compelling storytelling or relatable characters.

3. The show perpetuated harmful stereotypes.

The Hills perpetuated harmful stereotypes regarding beauty standards, relationships, and social hierarchies, particularly in Hollywood. The show’s emphasis on beauty and perfection set unrealistic expectations for young viewers, while the characters’ dysfunctional relationships and catty behavior reinforced negative gender stereotypes.

Underrated TV Shows of the 2000s

While The Hills may have been overrated, several underrated shows of the 2000s deserve more recognition. Here are three shows that were underrated but deserved more attention:

1. Freaks and Geeks

Freaks and Geeks was a dramedy that ran from 1999 to 2000, but its brief run earned it a spot as an underrated gem of the 2000s. The show followed a group of high school students in the 80s, navigating the ups and downs of adolescence. It tackled heavy themes such as mental health, bullying, and sexism, all with a balance of humor and heart.

2. Firefly

Firefly was a science fiction/western hybrid TV show that aired from 2002 to 2003. The show was set in the distant future, following the crew of a spaceship in their quest for survival and adventure. Firefly was praised for its complex characters, unique world-building, and witty humor, but was canceled after only one season.

3. Arrested Development

Arrested Development was a sitcom that ran from 2003 to 2006. It followed the dysfunctional Bluth family as they navigated their various personal and financial problems. The show’s unique style of storytelling and intricate plotlines earned it critical acclaim, but its humor and satire were often too niche for a wider audience.


The 2000s had its fair share of both underrated and overrated TV shows, with The Hills being a standout example of the latter. While it may have been a cultural phenomenon, the show’s lack of authenticity and shallow characters made it overrated. However, shows like Freaks and Geeks, Firefly, and Arrested Development deserve more recognition for their nuanced storytelling, complex characters, and genre-defying style. It’s important to appreciate the underrated gems of the past decade while recognizing why some shows were overrated.