Reality TV shows off California

Reality TV shows off California

Updated: July 11, 2009, 12:21 PM ET
ESPNRISE.com

[+] EnlargeLauren Conrad
Chris Polk/FilmMagicLauren Conrad and the gang from "The Hills" are cool enough to get California the top spot in the Great State Debate.

Which state is the coolest and most relevant when it comes to the world of pop culture? ESPN RISE's editors have pared the list down to four states. It's up to you to answer the ultimate question.

No. 1 seed California

Population: 36.7 million
Famous Californians: Ronald Reagan (U.S. president); Leonardo DiCaprio (actor); John Steinbeck (author); George Lucas (filmmaker); Steve Jobs (founder/CEO of Apple).
California Trivia: In 1960, actress Joanne Woodward became the first person to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

The Case for California

If sometime in the future, researchers are studying what life was like for California teens in the early 21st century, they will certainly have an abundance of material.

Reality television is everywhere, and one of its favorite subjects is the life of the young, attractive Californian. "Laguna Beach," "The Hills," "Keeping Up With the Kardashians" and "The Osbournes" are among the shows based in California with a focus on teens and young adults.

While the Osbournes were already famous prior to their TV gig, the people cast in "Laguna Beach" and "The Hills" gained a level of celebrity just by having their lives filmed. Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt are known around the world for their feuds with friends and having a flesh-colored beard, respectively. Lauren Conrad, the star of both series, may be the only person who is actually working toward a career.

Life is good for these guys. College is not really needed since there's always a job at a magazine or PR firm or starting a fashion line as available career options. Secondly, money is plentiful. Did Spencer ever leave the apartment to do anything productive? Finally, to be a hit, you have to be seen. Loving the nightlife is a prerequisite, otherwise how would tabloids see the character out being fabulous?

 

Great State Debate

The Great State Debate of Pop Culture is out to settle the score once and for all. Which state is the coolest and most pop-culturally relevant? You decide. Here are the finalists:

No. 1 seed California
No. 2 seed Texas
No. 3 seed North Carolina
No. 4 seed New Mexico

Agree? Disagree? Join the debate.

Blog about what makes your state cool.

Another characteristic of these shows is their popularity and ability to spawn other shows. Lauren spent five years of her life anchoring one night or another for MTV. While the "Laguna Beach" series started it all, its family tree grew from there. "Newport Harbor" and "The Hills" came next. The supporting cast members of "The Hills" turned into stars of their own shows as Brody Jenner was the key figure in the show "Bromance," Whitney Port left Los Angeles for New York to work for fashion designer Diane Von Furstenberg in "The City," and now Audrina Patridge will reportedly have her own series once she finishes her commitment to "The Hills."

The final testament to the staying power of these reality shows is that "The Hills" has now come full circle. Kristin Cavallari was last seen as a senior in the second season of "Laguna Beach," and now that Lauren has said goodbye to "The Hills," Kristin has been suddenly reintroduced to the world.

There are so many things that could put California on the pop culture map -- movie stars, bodybuilding governors, music, surfing, extreme sports, Silicon Valley and Disneyland are all giant cornerstones for California's case. But how could the state's contribution be anything other than these shows, since they are so "real"?

ALSO SEE