'Hollywood Heights' Review: Romance, Stardom, Secrets – and It's Wholesome (So Far)!

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Cast of Hollywood Heights

After previewing the first two episodes of Nick at Nite’s new teen soap opera Hollywood Heights, I’m quite impressed at the focus on family, girls being regular teens, and the lack of sex.

Cast of Hollywood Heights

After previewing the first two episodes of Nick at Nite’s new teen soap opera Hollywood Heights, I’m quite impressed at the focus on family, girls being regular teens, and the lack of sex.

The bold new series is executive produced by six-time Emmy Award-winner Jill Farren Phelps (General Hospital, One Life to Live) and co-executive produced by Hisham Abed (The Hills and The City) and Josh Griffith (Young and the Restless, As the World Turns) who also serves as head writer. Having served as an executive producer on five soap operas spanning three networks, Phelps brings with 25 years of experience to Heights. She began her television career on Santa Barbara where she ultimately rose to Executive Producer and later served as Executive Producer on Guiding Light before going to Another World in the same capacity.  Afterward, Phelps returned to ABC Daytime serving as Executive Producer of One Life to Live and later moved to executive produce General Hospital from 2001-2011.

Emmy Award-winning writer/producer Josh Griffith brings a proven track record in writing and developing hit programming. Having served as writer/head-writer on One Life to Live, As the World Turns, Santa Barbara and more recently as Executive Producer of The Young & The Restless, his work garnered him four Daytime Emmy Awards and four Writer’s Guild Awards. The rest of the writing team consists of those with a background in soaps and primetime television — Sally Sussman Morina, Lisa Seidman, Valerie Ahern, Brent Boyd, Catherina Ledeboer, Christian McLaughlin, Greg Schaffer, Jed Seidel and Flint Wainess.

Abed has served as Director on MTV’s groundbreaking docu-drama, Laguna Beach: The Real O.C.  The success of the series led him to continue on with the network’s subsequent hit docu-dramas, The Hills and The City, for which he received critical praise. 3-time Emmy winning director Owen Renfroe (General Hospital) will direct.

Hollywood Heights is based on the Mexican telenovela, Alcanzar una Estrella, and follows Loren Tate (Brittany Underwood, One Life to Live) as she wins the love of rockstar Eddie Duran (Cody Longo, Days of Our Lives; Make It or Break It; Fame) and the ups and downs of her inner circles daily lives. When placed next to typical teen dramas, Heights stands out for its focus on family, friends, high school, and relationships. When was the last time the lead character on a teen drama spent most of her time mooning over her star crush? It’s aspects like these that make the show so refreshing.

Loren is the daughter of a single her mother, her father having left the family a long time ago. She and her mother have a Rory and Lorelai Gilmore type relationship. They tease one another, share their highs and lows, respect one another, and Loren supports her mother’s return to the dating world after years of being out of it. Her mother encourages her to enjoy life; her rockstar crush included, and doesn’t mind that her daughter wants to go to Duran’s concert on a school night. It’s a stark contrast to Loren’s best friend, Melissa who has a severe helicopter parent, the kind that makes you cringe and want to throw your remote, but also the kind you or your friends may have had growing up.

Together, they are a duo of outcasts; Melissa for her flashy and fun fashion sense and Loren for her intelligence. Neither really seem to mind. Melissa’s confidence makes her extremely likeable. If only more girls were less concerned with what people thought about them. She doesn’t even get that upset when teased for her wardrobe, but given that she’s a teenage girl, I expect such comments to rear their ugly head at some point.

Their low-key, typical high school senior life is a stark contrast to Eddie Duran, who spends his traveling the world and selling out concerts. His return to LA marks the last show on his tour and his world is filled with problems, most of which he isn’t even aware of, showing a realistic portrayal of the ripple effect fame can have.  His manager, Jake that constantly pressures him to work and work and work some more, never taking a break. Perhaps this is to keep Jake away from his marriage, which is clearly suffering. His girlfriend, Chloe used to date his best friend, Tyler and is clearly still holding a candle for him, but wants to be with Eddie because of the attention he brings to her and her modeling career. She’s even willing to make a deal withTylerto help him get a touch of Eddie’s fame as long as he remains quiet about their relationship. Meanwhile, Eddie’s father, who was once part of a legendary music duo with his mother, worries about the pressure put on his son. He and Eddie lost their wife and mother in a car accident just before Eddie’s career took off. Talk about a lot of demons to carry.

Eddie initially connects with Loren when he grabs her hand and sings to her at a concert, but it’s later via a Twitter message that she really seems to get to him. Nice utilization of social network there, Nickelodeon. Loren enjoys writing music and songs, but swears she doesn’t want to be a singer. So touched by Eddie’s concert, she sends him some of her lyrics and he appears impressed when he reads them. In passing, Jake mentioned a song writing contest that Eddie was sponsoring, so this is likely where he and Loren will meet again and their real relationship begins.

Given Nickelodeon’s success with shows like South of Nowhere and Degrassi on Teen Nick, I think Heights is a great fit. The characters come off as realistic girls you’d want to be friends with and Brittany Underwood is absolutely adorable in her role as Loren. And who doesn’t remember those days as being a teenager in love with their favorite singer? Cue my Justin Timberlake crush right here.

In the first two episodes there was plenty of swooning and even some intense makeout, but none of the relationships or characters are driven solely by sex. That dreaded “s” word that fills the dialogue of most teen dramas wasn’t even mentioned. What drives them are surviving their daily lives, their relationships with the people around them, and most of all making their dreams come true. This makes the show a pleasure to watch.

However, I worry in some aspects that the show may be too slow for viewers. I don’t say this because of the lack of sex. I say these because compared to a lot of teen dramas, the pacing is slow and what drama it has may start to feel stale and cliché. Twists and turns are necessary to keep any viewer interested, so this show will need to pull some out. So with some pickups in the storylines that will move things along a little faster, Nick may find themselves in for another hit!

Hollywood Heights will premiere Monday, June 18 at 9PM/EST during Nickelodeon’s Nick at Nite programming block. The series 80-episode season will air weeknights at 9 through October.

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  • smileyany

    i love this showwww <333 hope there willl be a second season

  • Steph

    Loveeeeeeee Hollywood Heights!!!!!!! #Loren and Eddie !!!!! <3 best show out there right now! <3

  • Jay

    I love the show, but I do feel like they are dragging out certain situations way too long. One issue last like a week on the show. Other than that, i love and I’ll keep watching.

  • MICHEY

    I love Hollywood heights. It cool fun and most inportian it’s has lots of drama . I think thoughts are some of the resins I love 2 watch it all the time :) …..,,,,,,

  • Ruby Melody

    Thanks to having Entertainment On Demand, I’ve been able to watch the first five episodes, and I really like it. Carlos Ponce (Max) is an actor I’ve actually seen regularly in Spanish television and it’s cool seeing him doing something in English. My only negative comment is: Is it just me or is it visually confusing? Due to the wide array of characters and families, there are several different locations which is fine but they seem universes apart from each other. Usually there are some visual similarities between different locations within a TV series – not that they look the same but that they feel the same. Every time they change from Eddie’s house, to Lauren’s house, to school, to Rumor, etc. etc. it feels like I’m watching a different show. It’s hard to explain what’s different exactly, they just all have very different ‘feels’ in terms of visual. I don’t know if I’m over analyzing or just crazy but I just wish it tied together better aesthetically because that kind of thing really bugs me.

    Aside from my odd feelings toward that, I actually really like the show and think Nickelodeon really knows what their doing. They have been pulling from other countries (Degrassi – Canada, H20 and Dance Academy – Australia, now Hollywood Heights inspired by a Mexican telenovela) and it’s really resonating well with American viewers. A lot of American shows and stars get seen by many different countries and viewers in the US don’t usually see what other countries have to offer. When networks acquire shows from other countries or make American versions of them (Being Human and The Office – UK) they tend to turn out to be pretty successful so I really like that Nickelodeon is getting in on that action.