We’ve been graced with so many flashbacks and inside scoops that it’s hard to believe that the “Back to the Beach With Kristin and Stephen” podcast is coming to an end. It’s already season two of the rewatch podcast hosted by exes Kristin Cavallari and Stephen Colletti who were both part of the original cast of MTV’s Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County.

The series aired in 2004 and followed high school students in Laguna Beach, California as they experienced the highs and lows of growing up and navigating new and old relationships. It was one of the first reality shows so when it first aired it was hard for the audience to realize what was fake and what was real. Kristin and Stephen give the inside scoop on what was true and what was made for TV on their podcast.

Over the course of the podcast, they have other cast members from the show as special guests. It was really fun to hear what each of them had to say. The cast members recount moments from their high school days which turned into iconic early reality show moments that bring back so much nostalgia. It really feels like 2004 was yesterday hearing them together and that’s what I love about the podcast.

One of my favorite guests was Jason Walhler who was known for dating a few of the girl cast members and eventually cheating on Lauren Conrad with his ex Jessica Smith at a local benefit the high schoolers helped out with. Hearing his point of view of what he was going through during the show paints him in a totally different light than what MTV showed the audience. You find out that he was struggling with alcohol addiction which lead him to rehab. He is now sober and works towards helping other people with addiction. He showed that he wasn’t one of those reality stars that got stuck in the cycle of fame and addiction; he was able to work through it and out the other side. He credits being on reality TV at an early age as a jump start to feeding his addiction with alcohol and drugs, but knew that it wasn’t what caused his addiction.

Besides learning where other cast members live now and what they’re doing, there are the little nuggets of behind the scenes truths that come out. While MTV showed that Kristin went to her senior prom with Talan Torriero, she was really dating Sam or “Hot Sam” as he’s now known on the podcast! Sam didn’t want to sign the filming release to be shown on camera for season two, but you do see him during the infamous moment when Kristin’s Isuzu SUV is finally dunzo and she causes a massive traffic jam and talks back to a cop! Classic.

In each episode Kristin and Stephen give themselves a rating from A-F as well as the episode rating of A-F on the entertainment factor for the audience. I love that they are watching these episodes for the first time since the producers gave them each a copy of the episode on a VHS tape before it aired on TV. It’s been eighteen years since the show aired and sometimes they didn’t even watch the episode when it came out so this is really the first time they’re seeing it.

They’ve stated multiple times that they know now that the producers were trying to make a reality TV series and they weren’t always shown as the real people they actually are. They were asked to talk about something that had already happened in real life so they could film it for TV. Conversations that would seem so fake now felt so real back then because reality TV was so new. Even Kristin and Stephen found themselves torn between what was real and what was fake when they were rewatching. I love the influence of reality TV and how normal it seems to our society now, but Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County was part of the first wave of reality TV that helped shape what it is today.

Kristin has stated that having their favorite moments from prom and graduation filmed in a way that looks like a movie is something that she’ll take away as one of her highlights of having her high school years filmed. The show felt like a movie and that’s what I loved about it. There was beach cinematography as the establishing shots for a beach town with kids who felt like they could be beautiful actors or definitely the cool kids at your high school. You learned about their backstories or what MTV wanted you to believe was their backstory and at the end of the day you were either Team LC or Team Kristin.

I’ve learned now that Kristin isn’t who we saw on TV. She’ll speak her mind, but she isn’t the “mean girl” MTV painted her as. Stephen had moved on from his relationship with Kristin, but MTV made it seem like he was always trying to win her back. And of course there was a love triangle somewhere in the story line. This show had such a thin line between false reality and truth that I understand now why it was so hard to figure out if the show was real or not. Whether true or fake, these nostalgic high school moments will live on forever in our minds in those richly saturated tones of blue ocean and orange sunsets with Come Clean by Hilary Duff playing somewhere in the background.

The finale episode of Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County will be the topic of next Tuesday’s (May 30) podcast. And the last episode of the podcast will be the following week.

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