The Hills: Heidi and Spencer Get Engaged. Obviously.

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"Oh my God, this is such a sparkly surprise!" Photo: Courtesy of MTV

Why did last night’s episode make us so sad? We usually have no problem ragging on all of these miserable people, but this show was so weirdly short, and so focused on Heidi’s poor cowboy dad, Bill (not to be confused with her stepfather, whom we've met before), that we found no joy in laughter. It’s like Bill’s watery blue eyes cut through our blackened soul. “Why ya makin’ fun of our daughter?” those eyes beamed at us through the high-def. “She’s just gettin’ by the only way she knows how,” they continued, sending our boyfriend to bed early in shame. It’s clear that Heidi isn’t close to her “real” father, as he’s never met her evil master, Spencer, but whatever the case may be, a father-daughter relationship gets us every time. Have you seen the 1995 remake of The Little Princess? The young girl thinks her father is dead, but really he’s just injured and has amnesia and … we sob. On that note, on to our recap of the Hills, upsetting in an entirely different way.

Since it’s clearly on our mind, we’ll deal first with Heidi and her father, Cowboy Bill. Heidi explains to Spencer that her father is coming to visit. “He’s a real cowboy, a manly man,” she says. “If you want to marry me, you have to get his permission.” So now we know why he’s coming. Heidi is wearing all sorts of pink, and Spencer’s hair is so blond it looks gray. At the in-law lunch, Bill is donning a cowboy hat, a red jacket, and yellow pants. Aw, it’s his colorful television-debut outfit, and no one can take that away from him. He has a wife/girlfriend/lover named Terry, who doesn’t say much, but she seems to take Bill very seriously. Bill mentions to Spencer that's he's got a shotgun, then says: “We have to go out and kill some rattlesnakes and coyotes and get to know each other." Terry nods solemnly. We know these lines are most likely cooked up for him, but they’re amusing nonetheless. Bill and Spenc-y take a walk by the beach, and he mentions his “big gun” again. Perhaps Bill might benefit from a trip to good old Dr. Mansbacher to figure out his endowment-insecurity issues? Oh, yeah, and Spencer asks if he can marry Heidi. And then Spencer proposes to Heidi for like the eighth time, on a ferris wheel. She likes the canary diamond ring and wants a big “princess wedding.” Duh.

On to Stephanie, who wins the award for saddest cast member of the season (taking the crown from Audrina and last year’s drunken Justin Bobby fights and slave quarters). First, Steph visits the set of the White Tie Affair music video that Audrina’s working on. Remember them? We don’t. Steph had a thing with a band member named Sean, remember? We don’t. Why does she look so bulky, by the way? We thought drugs made you thin. Anyway, the boys from the band suggest they all hang this weekend, and then we’re forced to sit through a minute of their lame music video. Thanks for that, Hills producers. So Aud and Steph and Sean and the lead singer whose name we missed head to Bigfoot Lodge for drinks. L.A. is, like, five years behind on that faux-lodge trend, by the way. Sean promptly (and articulately … not) informs Stephanie that he has a girlfriend. “I got something pretty solid back home,” he says, without making eye contact. Stephanie comes back with, “you should zip your mouth up; you’re kind of a flirt,” which translates roughly to, “then why did you sleep with me the last time you were in town?” The girls take off right away, and Audrina looks sad to have been cock-blocked.

Over at People’s Revolution, Lauren has to fire Stephanie, severe bronzer and all. LC explains that Kelly’s not happy with Steph and that she doesn’t think she can work there anymore. “I’m fired right now?” Steph cries. Aw, why did Lauren have to let Steph come into work to do this? Bad form! Funnily, Lauren gets an e-mail ping in the middle of the firing convo, and checks to see who it is quickly while continuing to give Stephanie the ax. They both wonder what this will do to their “friendship,” and Lo seems to find the whole situation hilarious, which it is.

Next week: Stephanie gets in a fight with Kelly Cutrone! Yes! Also, some stupid stuff about Heidi’s wedding dress.

And now, our Unequivocal Hills Reality Index:

As real as Cowboy Bill’s Tom Selleck–esque mustache:
• Stephanie’s reaction to getting fired. Those were genuine tears, people. How humiliating to be fired from a fake internship on national television.
• Terry and Cowboy Bill. Odd couple, but a real couple.
• Lauren’s understandable haste in getting off this show.

As fake as a rushed wedding to coincide with a season finale:
• The fact that Lauren fired Stephanie at work. On TV. Stephanie’s assessment of the situation: “Kelly is sadistic, it’s some sick game to have your friend fire you.” Right, but only if you sub in “MTV” for “Kelly.”
• Spencer’s “surprise” proposal.
• The White Tie Affair’s interest in anything other than cheap fame.