Audrina Patridge gives reality another try in new VH1 series
The cameras never really stop following Audrina Patridge. If the reality starlet isn’t having her life documented by them for millions of viewers to consume, she’s getting ambushed by them for tabloid fodder. Her arrival at a popular Hollywood restaurant on a recent afternoon meant dealing with the latter as paparazzi stood by while she exited her Mercedes SUV.
“It’s so bizarre,” the 25-year-old reality veteran somewhat ironically said. “Like, how did they know I’d be here? It’s always strange.”
Patridge went from being an unknown aspiring actress who happened to be sitting poolside when an MTV executive was roaming by (“I thought I was getting scouted to appear on an episode of 'Dismissed' ”) to a reality star on one of the network’s most popular series, “The Hills.” She would go on to display her dancing abilities as a contestant on "Dancing with the Stars.” And now she’s helming her own show, "Audrina," on VH1.
And to think, Justin Bobby’s ex-girlfriend had intentions of becoming a psychologist.
“I was taking classes at [Orange Coast College],” she said. “But my dream was to be an actress, so I finally just made the decision to go with my dream. I have no regrets.”
"Audrina," which premiered Sunday, chronicles Patridge’s family life and Hollywood life and “everything in between.” The first episode basically introduced us to Patridge’s current life (she complained about paparazzi), family (lots of drama) and superfluous shots of her in a bikini.
It aims to add depth to the persona viewers came to know on "The Hills," where she was often as kind of a dish towel — moping over Justin Bobby or vacantly staring sidekick to Lauren Conrad. It seems "realness" is something seasoned reality stars are attempting to achieve these days. Paris Hilton ("The Simple Life") is taking a similar stance with her latest reality venture, "The World According to Paris," saying this time viewers will get to see the "real" her. Hilton will also expose viewers to a bit of her family life with mother Kathy Hilton appearing on the show.
But think of "Audrina" as a B-list version of “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” — though Patridge, who also serves as a producer on the show, steers clear of drawing any comparisons to the E! network’s popular family.
“I feel like ‘The Hills’ … I never really got a chance to voice my opinion or to show my side,” she said. “I never allowed MTV to film my family life or more deeply into my personal life. This show, everyone is going to see everything. My family is not doing this because we want to be famous; they’re not doing it to be the next Kardashians. They’re doing it strictly to be supportive.”
Most members of the Patridge family have been relatively unknown until now, apart from Casey, who made the occasional appearance on “The Hills.” And then there’s matriarch Lynne who gained notoriety last year after being filmed on a viral video letting off steam about her daughter being eliminated from “Dancing With the Stars.” Lynne’s outspokenness is likely to be a big part of the series as more episodes air.
“My mom’s very passionate. She has a personality that’s larger than life,” Patridge says by heart, repeating the phrase on the many press interviews she does regarding the show. “She doesn’t really have a filter. That’s a great thing about my family: what you see on camera is what you see off camera. American families will really relate to that — and I’m sure families all over the world will relate to my family.”
The idea of starring in yet another reality series was initially met with some hesitation by Patridge, citing “The Hills’ ” venture away from reality, which she says came at the end of Season 3, toward manipulation.
“As ‘The Hills' was getting ready to wrap, my manager at the time kept saying we were being approached to do my own show,” she recalled. “MTV had always wanted that for “The Hills” — my personal life, my real friends, my family — but I was always like, no! I didn’t know how they would edit. Then I met with Mark Burnett. It was like day and night. He understood my worries of what I went through with ‘The Hills’ and that I didn’t want to go through them again — just being portrayed as someone I wasn’t or being pushed into situations that don’t reflect who I really am. He agreed that if we do it, it’d be real. Raw. There’s not all this lighting set up. The camera guys really hold the cameras and really follow us. It’s not us sitting down and the crew sets up three cameras on a tripod and you're not allowed to move. We just get to be ourselves. We get to talk about what we want to talk about!"
And she intends to keep it that way.
"I just get to be me. That's all I ever wanted. At the end of the day, I want to be married and have kids. This won't last forever. If we're lucky, it will last a couple of seasons. And that's fine by me."
— Yvonne Villarreal
Photos: Reality TV's Audrina Patridge of "The Hills" at the Los Angeles Convention Center during the Reality Rocks Expo on April 10. Credit: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times.