TV Article

Chicks With Cliques

On the season 3 premiere of ''Laguna Beach,'' nice, bland Tessa gets the cold shoulder from the school's ice queens; plus, Jessica returns to date another weaselly hottie

THE BEACH IS BACK This could be the nastiest season yet
THE BEACH IS BACK This could be the nastiest season yet

The ''Laguna Beach'' premiere: Mean girls rule!

Not-so-nice people just make better TV.

Kristin Cavallari taught us this in the first two seasons of Laguna Beach, and the all-new cast seems positively hell-bent on teaching it to us again in season 3. This Tessa girl who's the narrator? Nice? Sure. Pretty? Yes. Sympathetic? Absolutely. Interesting? Eh. She hints in her opening narration that she'll be standing up to the popular chicks in a showdown for their mutual guy friends' souls, which certainly intrigues me. If girlfriend can really take these gals down, she'll have my respect.

Because, wow, are they doozies — anything engaging that happens this season, we owe to them. Kristin was bolder and brasher than your average teen, but she didn't quite go so far out of her way to be mean like our new queen bees, Kyndra and Cami. They do, however, turn out to be as much fun to watch as Ms. Went On to Allegedly Hook Up With Nick Lachey. (Poor Brianna, little sister to Kristin's nemesis Lauren, seems strenuously crammed into this cast for a bid at continuity — Tessa says something vague about her being ''so jealous,'' but, as she'd say, whatever.)

And I'm so getting the collective crush on the boys who are the prizes in this battle. I never really felt the love for the likes of Jason or Talan, or even Stephen, who was cute but kinda blah. Chase — Tessa's scruffy friend, whom she's obviously all swoony for — is a literal rock star, the lead singer in a local band. Kelan, the guitarist, is just plain adorable, not to mention that he apparently knows his way around a barbecue. And their buddy Cameron, the one every girl on the screen is falling all over, is, well, a little jocky for my taste — but he does play water polo, so there you go. Why girls aren't flocking to Kelan instead is beyond me, but that's what makes them high school girls and me, well, not. And me saying this kinda makes me a dirty old woman, so I'll stop now.

In any case, the set-up for this ep is that Kyndra has texted Tessa, who used to be her BFF back in the day — they apparently grew apart over some unspecified thing at some unspecified point in their young lives. This texting event is unequivocally ruled to be ''random'' — it is declared so on at least two occasions. Cami really said it best when she scoffed to Kyndra as they shopped, ''That's super-random. Why'd you do that?''

Meanwhile, we're treated to a surprise cameo by none other than Doormat Jessica from seasons 1 and 2, whom Kristin repeatedly admonished for being gullible enough to take Jason's crap over and over and over again. She's back post-graduation, specifically to date the much-sought-after Cameron, who, it's worth mentioning, is a junior. ''I thought it was rocking the cradle,'' Kyndra says of this news. ''Yeah, no, it's robbing,'' Cami tells her. Oh, Billy Idol, your influence on America's youth never wanes.

Loving how this whole episode ends up being an anti-Jason public-service announcement (especially coming on the heels of the sad real-life tabloid news that Jason and Lauren have split, even after she chose him over an internship in Paris on The Hills' finale). ''I don't wanna be mean at all,'' Taylor says at a previous-season veterans' lunch with Jessica, Alex H., and Alex M, ''but I saw a picture of Lauren and Jason, and it looked like they both gained a little weight.''

But poor Jess — even though she's moved on from the Jason debacle, she can't catch a break. ''Junior Cameron?'' says Alex H. upon hearing of the so-called rocking of the proverbial cradle. (Ah, the time in your life when dating a kid two years your junior is a scandal.) ''Oh, Jesus, Jessica,'' gasps Alex M.

At least the Cameron-Jessica coupling brings us our first Painful Laguna Date of the season. Fortunately, this one has some real action to chew on: namely, the supposedly more mature Jessica snatching Cameron's phone from him to scroll through Kyndra's text messages, because she obviously already knows in her gut that Little Miss Popular is gonna steal her boy. ''You see that jam right there?'' says Cameron, staring at the basketball game on TV, in an attempt to deflect the inquisition. ''Guys just suck,'' Jessica declares. ''They lie and connive.'' And then...you know it's coming...the big anti-Jason statement...and there it is: ''Do you know who my ex-boyfriend is?'' Cameron gets right on that train, too: ''Don't judge us by our worst specimen.''

Still, in the end, he tells her exactly what she doesn't want to hear: that he is, in fact, going to Kyndra's upcoming party. Hey, points for honesty, dude.

Next up, we're treated to a little taste of the band's music at their rehearsal — though not enough to judge yet. It kinda sounded like a bit of a mess, but it was a brief snippet, and it wasn't awful, and, well, I'm a little smitten, so I'll give it time. We also get a glimpse of Tessa and Chase's relationship when she looks at him all moony eyed and confesses how nervous she is about going to Kyndra's party. ''I used to spend every day in that house,'' she says. But then she adds, prophetically, ''Girls are so mean.''

Finally, it's time for the big party, with Kyndra gushing about Cameron: ''He got hot over the summer.'' And Cameron teasing her: ''Kyndra, one morning I'll make you breakfast.'' None of this, incidentally, is what you want your younger boyfriend doing while hanging out with his younger, hot female friends. Isn't the whole point of a younger man to worship you? We so need Kristin here to set Jessica straight.

Then, suddenly, amid all the flying pheromones, a passive-aggressive girl-group battle plays out: Tessa shows up with her friends, and they do not mix well with Kyndra's crew. Lexie's giving them the evil eye, Cami's mocking them, and Kyndra's saying things like ''I'm fine with our cliques. I'm not complaining.'' Not to mention: ''I'm glad that we have our boys. We own them, basically.''

After the Tessa crowd hightails it out of there (gee, why wouldn't they want to stick around for another helping of burgers and bitchiness?), it's time for some hot-tubbing. This explains so much, namely because Cameron appears with his shirt off. And let's just say that if this doesn't spur interest in water polo, I don't know what will. There's a bunch more flirting with Kyndra. The next morning on the golf course (where else?) with Kelan, there are hints that Cameron ''woke up at Kyndra's house.'' (Um, what kind of parental rules are in play here, anyway?) And there are more hints over Cami and Kyndra's lunch that afternoon, though no outright admission. Not that it matters, as long as we get to hear Cami say fascinating, even poetic, things like ''Know why my hair is so big?...Because it's full of information.''

See? Bitches are just more fun.

What do you think? Will Tessa prove to be a worthy main character? Do the new mean girls match up to Kristin? And are the new boy toys better or worse than the old ones?

Originally posted Aug 16, 2006
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