Hi, everyone! I’m glad to be at The Henderson Files today. Thank you, Patty.
Reality TV. Dating on TV. The Bachelor. The Bachelorette. These shows are so-called guilty pleasures for many people, but not for me. I proudly own up to my “guilty” pleasures and to my bubblegum TV. After I posted about a certain “The Bachelor” contestant a few years ago on Facebook, one of my college friends expressed astonishment that I would watch such trash. I was too smart for that, he said. I grinned and shrugged. “I love the show,” I replied. “What can I say?”
Heck, I love these shows so much that I am Facebook friends with quite a few Bachelor and Bachelorette alumni. Not that they have the faintest idea who I am.
All this to say…the idea of writing a book about a reality TVdating show should have occurred to me sooner, much sooner. Better later than never, though—hence the birth of my latest novel, Reality Lesbian. It’s reality-TV dating, lesbian style. It came out last Friday and has been really popular so far. In a nutshell, it’s about Lucy Marshall, a straight woman who goes on a lesbian dating show for a vacation and job connections. Not really her idea. Her gay best friend, Henry, signed her up for the show and pushed her into going. But, hey, she does go, and she pretends to be gay. During filming, she gets an incredible shock—she’s attracted to the lead, Dr. Zara Winters. Zara is an animal vet, and her crazy job hours haven’t led to the best relationships. She and Lucy click right away, which prompts quite a few problems for Lucy. Does she tell Zara the truth? How will Zara react? What about Zara’s connections with the other contestants? They run the gamut, as is typical on TV dating. You have the woodwork types viewers never get to know, the arrogant jerks, the drama queens, the smoking hot people, the genuinely nice people and the people you’re not sure what to make of (genuine or not? Aloof or shy?). Plus a few twists along the way!
Because of my love for The Bachelor and The Bachelorette, I have followed many of these show-related blogs for years. Some of them, such as Reality Steve (www.realitysteve.com – warning, show spoilers!) were instrumental in providing the background knowledge I needed to write authentically about the filming of a reality TV show. In countless blog posts and with his insider knowledge, Steve has pointed out the myriad ways in which reality TV isn’t “reality.” For example, retakes and reshoots of scenes are common, if for no other reason than to get a better camera angle. Booze is plentiful—leads to loose lips and drama. Contestants are asked the same question countless ways until they give up the answer producers want. Sometimes a producer may dangle a carrot (“Say X thing we want you to say, and we’ll make sure you get alone time with Lead Y”). Many of the contestants are actors or have/desire some kind of Hollywood career. All are gorgeous. Fantastic looking. They don’t need to go on TV to find a date. Sure, a few are there in the hopes of genuinely falling in love, but the majority are there for the adventure and the experience. Absolutely nothing is wrong with that, but it does illuminate the hypocrisy of shows in which contestants get vilified for “not being here for the right reasons.”
I had always known this in the back of my mind, but season after season, I sat back happily for my bubblegum TV. I can’t anymore. When I settled in to watch the season of The Bachelorette airing now (Desiree’s season), I could NOT get into it. I had just finished Reality Lesbian, and perhaps it was the process of writing a book and doing reality TV dating my own way, but I just could not get into The Bachelorette anymore. It is the same old, same old, same old. Season after season. The formula works, no doubt. But it may have gotten too old for this particular viewer. (If I was in charge of these shows, I’d shake them up a bit.)
No doubt I’ll give these shows another try in the future. For now, however paradoxically, it seems that writing this book has soured me to watching the shows I used to love.
Ah well! Such is life.
For more on “Reality Lesbian” and the first two chapters, go here: http://www.qkellybooks.com/2013/06/reality-lesbian-is-out.html