After three years of using Laguna Beach as a backdrop — and its children as television players — MTV is moving on to Newport Beach, which will become the new “Real Orange County.”
With ratings down for the Laguna show, MTV apparently pulled the plug on Season Four midway through filming and set up camp a few miles north.
A collective sigh of relief was heard in many quarters in Laguna, which had become increasingly uncomfortable with the tone of the show and its exploitative nature.
Laguna prefers to be known for its art colony culture and tidepools — not as a playground for rich, spoiled youth.
Added to that is the fact that so many of the show’s “stars” have gone on to act out in damaging ways, mostly hurting themselves but sometimes others, and bringing a glare of negative publicity to the town.
After season one, many in town were snickering about the teenage antics and angst acted out against the backdrop of Laguna’s coastal beauty and shown on national television.
By the end of the second season, many locals were beginning to not be amused, and MTV became a hot topic in last November’s school board race, with some calling for city officials to throw the station out on its rear.
In February, the newly elected school board voted to rescind its 2004 approval to film the show on campus.
The party was over, and that — plus ratings — was no doubt the death knell for “Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County.”
Laguna may not have loved MTV, but those who pioneered the student “reality” show format should feel some satisfaction that they were part of a television revolution for their time.
In 2004, the YouTube generation had not been coined, but the cast of the upstart “Laguna Beach” show was fearlessly allowing television cameras to follow them as they led their lives — although whether the show was really unscripted has been debated, wink-wink.
Some of the original cast have gone on to fame and fortune, while others have pursued more private but successful lives.
We wish the MTV “grads” well in all their future pursuits.
MTV left quite a wake in Laguna, and the quiet harbor waters of Newport are about to be swamped.
Already, some Newporters are expressing unhappiness with the show’s presence in their town.
Here’s how MTV touts the move to Newport Harbor High on its Website:
“Return to the sun, wealth and drama but say goodbye to Laguna. We move up the coast to Newport Harbor where friendships will also be tested, betrayed and hearts will break but love still rules.”
It’s Newport’s star turn.