I’ve never really identified as a fan of reality TV. With the exception of the Bachelor franchise, I don’t watch what I think reality TV has become nowadays – irritable housewives’ Bravo shows, the ever-persistent singing competitions, and delectably sweet baking shows.
Instead, I associate more with the earlier concepts of the genre. Strangers thrown into a house together, competitors in a remote location proving survival of the fittest, and relatively unproduced docu-series. Starting from when I was nine years old and lasting throughout my teens, the age of reality TV’s rise and fall left a decent influence on my cultural identity. I hope you’re ready for a trip down memory lane, because I wanted to share thoughts about some of the reality TV seasons that most contributed to this shaping.
America’s Next Top Model, Cycle 6
The first eight cycles of America’s Next Top Model summarize exactly what was so great about reality TV in the early 2000s. Contestants still didn’t realize how production could portray them wrongly, social media fame didn’t quite exist yet, and personal fashion was simultaneously simple and horrendous. I also love Cycle 3 and its whackily entertaining cast, but I was first introduced to ANTM through an MTV weekend marathon of Cycle 6. Can you even call yourself an ANTM fan if you don’t live for Jade’s one-liners in this season? On top of that, the rest of the cast was also funny and complex, and Tyra Banks was at her peak of zaniness. I always resort to Cycles 3 and 6 when I need something brainless to play in the background as I do something else. After all, nothing truly beats a reality competition series with all of the old-school ANTM elements.
In high school, before streaming was what it is today and I had my own laptop, summer TV was just that — limited to the physical TV and airing exclusively in the summer season. The fact that these shows popped up when I had the most time to keep up with weekly episodes just made them more addictive, and while only one of them is still in my life today, I still equate all three of these shows with summertime.
Technically, the new season of Married at First Sight is also one of my summer watches this year, but the show has pretty small gaps in between seasons and runs what feels like year-round. Is anyone else totally invested in the Dallas season even though they have a feeling it’s going to be a trainwreck? Ah, well, that’s the beauty of summer shows — they don’t need much to keep us hooked.
1) The Next Food Network Star
I don’t keep up with this right now, but for two or three consecutive summers, I was obsessed. This Food Network competition series is basically what it sounds — finalists compete in cooking challenges with twists tied to being TV chefs in order to win their own Food Network series. Honestly, I think it’s the loss of Alton Brown as a judge that made my interest in Food Network Star fade. Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis still judge, but the visual imbalance of two main judges and not having Alton’s witty wackiness just bores me. The show has low-stakes drama with gratuitous food porn, and you never have to pay much attention to it if you’re just not in the mood to think too much. I’d inevitably form a weird crush on one of the long-haired, slightly greasy-looking chefs that I definitely wouldn’t be attracted in real life. That’s what seeing a man cooking can do to you!
2017 was a bit of a mess politically and socially. Trump’s tirades, several terrorist attacks, and an onslaught of sexual assault allegations were just some of the difficult moments we faced on a global scale this year. Although it’s important to find a balance between caring enough for the world’s struggles and taking note of your own self care, I’ve always loved entertainment and pop culture because of the relief they provide from sad or negative things.
Despite all of its negativeness, 2017 had plenty of moments that made me happy. I wanted to share my favorite pop culture moments of the year, so get ready to go down memory lane!
1) Prince Harry and Meghan Markle get engaged
Guys, this love story is a made-for-TV movie come to life! But, seriously, I’m hoping for another perfectly cheesy Lifetime flick about them a la William and Kate. Until recent months, I never knew much about Meghan Markle, but I definitely liked the sound of her and her relationship with Harry. After watching their adorable engagement interview, it’s clear that they’re truly in love and that Meghan has already begun a seamless-looking transition into royal life. Try not to smile watching that interview.
Hi friends! My first post-college summer is in full swing and amidst weekly (or daily) freakouts about life, I’ve finally emerged from a rough slump where I really wasn’t in the mood to take in any kind of cultural stuff. I wanted to share some things I’ve been loving lately that have made this transition into real life a little smoother.
Jill Mansell books
I read my first Jill Mansell book years ago and remember thinking it was just okay. Last month, I found myself in the mood for some of my beloved British contemporary fiction (the mood strikes whenever I’m particularly homesick for London, and what with everything going on in the UK in June, I guess it hit me hard). Having come across Mansell’s section on my library OverDrive, I downloaded one at random, Three Amazing Things About You, and quickly fell in love with Mansell’s style. It’s lighthearted, funny chick lit, but still so satisfying – I call her books the written equivalent of films like Love Actually.