Cast Members Reveal Just How Scripted 'Laguna Beach' Was as They Dish on the Drama

While some cast members say 'Laguna Beach' was "softly scripted," Kristin Cavallari says that the high schoolers were "manipulated."

Alex West - Author

Feb. 12 2024, Published 10:03 p.m. ET

Kristin Cavallari and Stephen Colletti sit close together on 'Laguna Beach'
Source: MTV

The three-season MTV show Laguna Beach sometimes seemed a little too good to be true. Following a few high school students around seems like it would be a bit boring. While anything can happen with teenagers, some staging may have been necessary to keep the whole thing cohesive.

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Like all reality television, MTV will never admit if it was full-on scripted or not, but a closer look might reveal the truth. About 20 years after the show's debut, let's finally crack the code.

'Laguna Beach' cast poses beside each other in 2000s fashion trends
Source: Getty Images
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Was 'Laguna Beach' scripted?

All of the teenagers on screen were Laguna Beach High School students, so that much is certainly true. The group of friends was there in the social hierarchy and none of them were true actors, per se.

However, there were times when the producers stepped in to give the show a special sparkle. "It was softly scripted, so the storylines were real. I mean, think about yourself in high school, right? You’re 18, you fight with a friend, but then you move on in a week or two, right? And it’s over. But [on the show], we lived that out for, like, three months or three episodes,” Alex Murrel confessed to Us Weekly.

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While the drama itself, in theory, was real, sometimes the producers would need to stage conversations to sort of recap what was going on. After all, they needed to make sure that the story got through to viewers in a way that was digestible and made sense.

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Lauren Olsen added, "It would be, like, the end of the summer, so, like, July [or] August, and then MTV would come and be like, 'Hey, we need to re-talk about a conversation that happened about prom. So, we’re gonna meet at the beach and I need you girls to talk about the drama that happened.'"

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Sometimes MTV would need them to go back and give a "redo" to special moments if the filming didn't turn out quite right. They'd have to get all ready with the right clothes and makeup and stage the events or conversations all over again or add in a few filler bits to help keep the story cohesive.

Alex described the story as more of a "soap opera" which caused show creators to take a special angle and build up the "plot" in a very specific way. She also added that her high school love triangle with Jessica Smith and Jason Wahler was certainly hammed up a bit, as she pointed out it was only actually a week or two of drama.

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Kristin Cavallari, on the other hand, argued she felt the show was more than "softly scripted." In fact, she confessed that producers would feed them lines and text them about what to say. In a conversation with Us Weekly, Kristin said, "We didn’t realize how much we were being manipulated or put in situations that we wouldn’t normally be in."

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Kristin explained that, due to the scripted nature, she really needed to hone in on how to separate her on-camera personality from herself off-camera. While Kristin "enjoyed playing the villain," that wasn't all there was to her.

“It was pushing it as far as it would go without an actual script. They give you a schedule and you’d have lunch with Heidi at 3:00 to talk about the party coming up or whatever the situation may be," she previously explained to IbiTimes.

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