You guys, I absolutely love trashy reality tv. I also absolutely love really good books. Welcome to part one in my new feature pairing books with their reality tv soul mates. You may think that these two things have little in common with each other, but they actually cover a lot of the same themes. And isn't reading a book during the commercials better than sending out another dated tweet about how Ronnie and Sammi need to BREAK UP ALREADY?
If you haven't heard of MTV's Are You The One? you are REALLY missing out. This is an excellent dating show where they put 10 straight men and 10 straight women in a house. Each one has been paired by an expert with their perfect match. But the problem is that they don't know who their match is. So it's a big clusterfuck of people trying to fall in love with each other. Each week there's a "match up ceremony" where they basically play the game Mastermind to find out how many perfect matches they've figured out, but not which ones.
And I'm sure you all know The Divine Comedy by Dante, if not just Dante's Inferno. Here's how they are exactly the same. In the Inferno, you go through the different circles of Hell, being punished for your sins. Your punishment in the show: doing horrible things like relay races. Honestly, I can't imagine a worse fate. Another punishment: having to interact with these people on a daily basis.
Every week, one couple gets sent to the "truth booth," where a super futuristic machine scans them and uses SCIENCE to tell them 100% whether or not they are a match. If they ARE a match, they get sent off to the honeymoon suite. AKA Purgatory. They don't have to live in the house anymore, but they do have to spend time completely alone with each other. And there they are stuck for the rest of the show.
Once the season is over and they are all matched (or not) and win a shit ton of money (or not), they get to ascend to Heaven/Paradiso, where the only interaction they have to have with each other is throwing shade over Twitter. Amen.
What's more disturbing and dystopian than Jersey Shore, the infamous show about a house full of "guidos/guidettes" who love to party, drink, and yell at each other?
A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess is a very dark book that follows Alex and his group of probably less tan bros who love sex and ultraviolence.
1. They all wear stupid outfits. The cast of Jersey Shore loves big hair, fresh kicks, giant slippers, and Ed Hardy. Alex and his gang like all white, suspenders, bowler hats, and codpieces. These two groups are very particular and refined.
2. They speak in their own languages. A Clockwork Orange has its own glossary where you can viddy the meaning of their intense slang language, "Nadsat." Unfortunately, MTV offers no such thing. You are just along for the ride as the Shore crew yell about GTL, t-shirt time, the smoosh room, meatballs, and grenades.
3. Icky misogyny and mistreatment of women. Don't even get me started.
4. They do the same shit over and over again. Alex is always at the Moloko bar with his gang or out picking fights. The Jersey Shore cast is always on that GTL grind (gym, tan, laundry), or at the club. Both very fulfilling, repetitive lives.
5. They love to party and beat people up. There are so many fights on Jersey Shore, you guys.
6. Bromance. And betrayal. But still some bromance.
Have you ever thought you could survive the apocalypse? Peggy Hillcoat's dad in Our Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller did. And so did the cast of Discovery's The Colony. And, in both instances, they each know they are playing pretend. Except for Peggy. Poor Peggy.
In Our Endless Numbered Days, Peggy's father prepares for years with a group to be a survivalist until one day he steals his 8-year-old daughter away from her family. They live in a dilapidated cabin out in the woods. He thinks he's going to be able to survive, but it is much more difficult than he imagined. And his relationship with his daughter becomes very strained and complicated.
In The Colony, a group of people are sent off to a fake abandoned city where they have to live in a warehouse and are allowed to kind of stray maybe ten feet from it. Each character has a kooky personality (mad scientists, grumpy engineers, spiritual yogis, etc.) and they have to try not to kill each other in order to survive with the small amount of supplies they have. End of the world DRAMA.
In each, eventually they find a human already out in the world that was SUPPOSED to be destroyed. And how they choose to interact with the new human can entirely reshape everyone's fates. If any of it is real in the first place.