There’s no question about it: Spencer Pratt of The Hills is a total D-bag. Just google “spencer pratt douche” to enjoy over 40,000 results on the subject. He spread a sex-video rumor about our beloved Lauren Conrad and drove a wedge between her and Heidi. He crashed one of Heidi’s business meetings to throw a fit about their relationship. He forced Heidi to kick her sister out of their apartment by threatening to break up with her if she didn’t. He convinced her to drink at a work function, which led to her being fired. He laughed when she got her job back but was forced to start at the bottom again. And that’s just the tip of the doucheberg.
But what’s Heidi’s role in all this? While Spencer casually destroys Heidi’s relationships with her boss, her family, and her friends for our viewing pleasure, Heidi sighs, shrugs, and nods along, apparently content to clean up the mess Spencer’s making of her life. She’s got concerned loved ones right and left telling her that Spencer’s ruining her life, but isn’t her life her own responsibility? Heidi is actively making decisions to drink at work, drop her sister, stick with Spencer, etc., but she’s widely recognized as a victim of her boyfriend. Whether people think she’s guilty by association or just an innocent bystander, the overriding assumption is that Heidi doesn’t really have agency.
We expect Spencer Pratt to be an awful person and we expect Heidi to take it…to a point. The entertainment seems to lie in seeing just how much crap Heidi will eat before she’s finally had enough. But even as we watch her exasperation grow with every episode of this season, we also know that the couple eloped to Mexico just last week (although their marriage has yet to be legally recognized in either Mexico or the U.S.). Yes, I know what you’re thinking: The whole thing smacks of razzmatazz. But when fans, bloggers, and pop culture pundits the world over are rooting for Speidi to split, what’s the point of a love-affirming publicity stunt? Oh right. Money.
It’s not surprising that the story of The Hills is at least partially fictional. Heidi (as well as other Hills stars) has said publicly that she and Spencer are just playing the parts they were given. And Heidi’s made her fame and fortune by playing the victim to one of the most despised (if not feared) TV villains of all time.
But what Heidi and Spencer are really playing at is an abusive heterosexual relationship in which the man isolates the woman from the things that she loves, and the woman is powerless to stop him. It may all be play-acting but it’s still disturbing that viewers so enjoy watching the story of a woman with low self-esteem (boob job, nose job, etc.) suffering at the hands of her man, even if they’re hoping she’ll stand up for herself.
And yes, I too would love to see Heidi make some kind of awe-inspiring stand against Spencer and then proceed to get her life together…even if it is fake. I guess that’s a story I just can’t resist.