The answer is yes. And we don't entirely know no.
The Hills went all Truman Show on us last night with a series finale moment for the TV ages that revealed ex-lovers (or so we were led to believe) Brody Jenner and Kristin Cavallari on a Hollywood soundstage.
Was the "reality" show all fake? Was anything ever for real? Here's what we know—and what one of the show's executive producers told us this afternoon:
• The Jenner-Cavallari relationship was not real. So says Jenner, who played coy on MTV's after-show special last night, but got more to the point with KIIS-FM's Sisanie. "Me and Kristin are really close friends. We love each other very much. But that relationship was absolutely false." Jenner said.
• The show was real, if not a reality show—a key distinction. In the beginning, executive producer Liz Gateley told us,"We were very careful…We didn't want to label it. But it was real." She pointed to tabloid-tracked storylines, feuds and hookups as proof. (And she said Jenner and Cavallari did, too, have an "on-again, off-again thing.") As for the finale's main storyline—Cavaralli's departure from the Hollywood Hills: more real. Cavallari has said she's bound for London.
• The show was not scripted—we think have been assured. In an interview Tuesday with the Wall Street Journal, The Hills creator Adam DiVello said of its sister show, The City, "What comes out of their mouths is what comes out of their mouths." Gateley responded in kind, essentially saying nobody could write Lauren Conrad better than Lauren Conrad.
• The ending was a total pose—obviously. Jenner talked to MTV News about doing multiple takes—and shooting multiple endings. "One of the other endings, Lauren was in it," Jenner said. "I come back home, and basically Lauren's at my place. We film this whole lovey-dovey scene as if me and Lauren had been together this entire time."
• The ending meant…Well, what did it mean exactly? It meant The Hills came into the world different—not technically a soap opera, certainly not a documentary—and wanted to go out different. What better way than to do it with a Newhart-esque, "a-ha moment," in the words of Gateley?
No better way.
(Originally published July 14, 2010, at 11:51 a.m. PT)