"We were living each other's mistakes. Everything we were doing, in retrospect, was a mistake. The second we continued on our quest for fame was a mistake," Pratt, 27, says. "This isn't a business. That was the big thing I didn't get: Reality TV is not a career. Anyone who says, 'Oh, you can have a career in reality' -- that is a lie."
To prove their point, Montag and Pratt call out Paris Hilton, whose third reality show, The World According to Paris, debuted to dismal ratings in June.
"Paris Hilton created fame for nothing. The fact that only 400,000 people tuned into her premiere? We're Paris Hilton fans," Pratt says. "She didn't make all these surgery mistakes. . . she didn't do any of that. But here she is. Her career stopped."
Life without The Hills has certainly cost them. Currently living rent-free with Pratt's parents, Montag, 24, realizes that she "should have kept every dollar that I had." (The Colorado native famously dropped thousands on more than 13 cosmetic procedures since 2007.)
"Obviously I wish I didn't do it," Montag says. "I would go back and not have any surgery. It doesn't help. I got too caught up in Hollywood, being so into myself and my image. I don't regret anything, but if I could go back, I wouldn't do it."
Changing her physical appearance was meant to raise her profile, Montag explains. "I thought I was investing in myself and my brand, like Kim Kardashian. When she buys these clothes, she's investing in herself, because she is a big brand and is likable. I thought I had that potential. My ego got too big. To think I could be someone like that when I was the most hated girl ever."
In addition to squandering $2 million on Montag's failed music career, Pratt estimates he spent $1 million on his wardrobe alone. "I would never wear that again," he says. "They're props. Everything we were doing, we were buying props. I bought a big blue monster truck just to drive it on The Hills for an episode. Never drove it again."
The problem with being on The Hills, they claim, is that the semi-scripted nature of the show blurred the line between fiction and reality.
"We were all getting paid to be people we weren't for so long that you stop -- there's no line," Spencer says. "The gauge is gone. The gray area is gone. We got so deep with how many storylines we had to do to continue the machine."
"I thought when this was all over, I could get on an interview and say, 'It was all entertainment,'" Pratt continues. "I thought I was the Wizard of Oz, like, I'm the guy behind the curtain."
According to Pratt, he and his wife were eventually "banned from the premieres, banned from the finale parties. And If you're banned from your own show. . .it really gives you this feeling of inadequacy."