Whitney Port has confirmed to Ryan Seacrest that her reality series, The City, has been canceled by MTV. This marks the end of an era for the network, which first began following Lauren Conrad and company back in 2004 with the zeitgeist-forming Laguna Beach. The show became a pop cultural phenomenon, introducing us to not only Conrad but Kristin Cavallari, Lo Bosworth, Heidi Montag, and occasional tabloid fixture Jason Wahler (not to mention Casey Reinhardt whose brother Doug has achieved dubious fame as the sometimes boyfriend of Paris Hilton).
As buzzworthy as Laguna Beach was, it was nothing compared to its first spin-off, The Hills. That show, which initially followed Lauren Conrad and Heidi Montag as they made lives for themselves in LA, became the defining voice of MTV for nearly five years. Its stars became media sensations, with Conrad becoming a successful author, designer, and on-air personality. Others, such as Heidi and her notorious boyfriend-turned-husband Spencer Pratt, became constant and inescapable fodder for gossip blogs. It was only inevitable that MTV would want to spin-off this spin-off, and that’s where The City was born.
Following Whitney Port as she moved from LA to NY, the series had a distinctly different tone from its predecessors. It focused less on vapid pretty people barhopping and more on career-minded workers hoping to make a name for themselves. Admittedly, the first season was a bit uneven. There was entirely too much focus on Whitney’s dating life, which simply was not as exciting or intriguing as the likes of Lauren or Heidi. The producers wizened up in the second season, emphasizing work over play, and that’s when The City became MTV’s finest gem. Less vapid, more urbane — the show transformed into a sly, hilarious meditation on workplace politics, with the producers happily highlighting passive-aggressive power plays that often were launched by a polite smile or a furrowed brow. In many ways, it was genius, and while Laguna Beach and The Hills proved to be the more popular shows, it was The City that proved to be the most gratifying.
Sadly, the arrival and success of Jersey Shore and Teen Mom meant that the glossy world of The Hills had become less relevant. Once MTV gave the axe to that show, it was clear that The City would not be far behind. If Whitney Port is to be believed, it appears that all hope may be lost, and now The City will join MTV’s growing list of “Brilliant But Canceled” reality shows (Sorority Life, Fraternity Life, and The Girls of Hedsor Hall come to mind). Here’s to hoping there’s an eleventh hour reprieve …
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October 25, 2010