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an emmy for vanderpump rules is an emmy for me

2 min

crown me, you cowards

In this newsletter: an obligatory (but delayed) celebration of Vanderpump Rules’ Emmy nomination, neon fruit, and a little bit of a reading recommendation

a culture thing

On Wednesday, July 12th, the Emmy’s announced that for the first time in its long run, Vanderpump Rules had finally become worthy of an Emmy nomination in the category of “Best Unstructured Reality Program.” It is competing against Indian Matchmaking, RuPaul’s Drag Race: Untucked, Selling Sunset, and Welcome to Wrexham. I don’t know how Vanderpump Rules can lose given that it’s coming off what is one of the wildest seasons of reality tv. But I’m guessing if it does lose, it will be to Welcome to Wrexham.

Far more vexing to me though is that this is Selling Sunset’s third nomination and Indian Matchmaker’s second nomination. I have at least four firmly held beliefs about reality tv.

  1. Vanderpump Rules is the greatest reality tv show of all time
  2. Are You the One? is also the greatest reality tv show of all time (especially season 8)
  3. The Bachelor/ette is a terribly edited franchise that doesn’t need to be as long as it is, and I refuse to get sucked in
  4. Netflix makes terrible reality tv shows

Look, I watch Indian Matchmaker because I’m trained to yell at Indian people my age making terrible choices. I watch Selling Sunset because there are fights in fancy homes between women who look like they stepped out from a Real Estate Agent Barbie fever dream. But neither of those shows are good the way that Vanderpump Rules is good because none of them has the cast that Vanderpump Rules has.

The cast of Vanderpump Rules is one of the last great reality tv ensembles, their original casting having taken place years before the reality tv→influencer pipeline was firmly established. Shows like The Bachelor perfected that pipeline, but Netflix has further entrenched, especially as they cast only the most instagrammable of people for shows. This was most egregious in the casting for their remake of The Mole, which simultaneously lost the fun and mystery of the original series when it cast from such a narrow range of experiences.

The problem isn’t casting beautiful people. The problem is casting people whose mindset is focused on their ability to broker a brand deal after the show. That specific goal reconfigures and gives focus to their priorities on the show compared to, say, the desolate and vague purity of going on to a show to become famous. The former demands constraint, the latter abhors it.

The cast of Vanderpump Rules are influencers too, but they are first and foremost reality tv people. They are the kind of people who find out their partner has cheated on them with their best friend and then call producers to tell them to pick up cameras. They are the kind of people who support their friend by speculating about her partner’s infidelity on podcasts, and then wring any passably viral moment into merch. And they are the kind of people who know they will still film with the man they know we all hate because it’s the only way to keep this show they’ve tethered themselves to.

These are professionals, geniuses even. And they deserve an Emmy.

a science thing

If you’re looking for something trippy to watch this week, may I suggest our latest episode of Journey to the Microcosmos that’s all about the inside of our favorite fruits and vegetables. I wrote and hosted this episode, but even if I hadn’t, I would love everything about how this footage looks like a Lisa Frank notebook, but with fruit crystals instead of like unicorns and dolphins.

I love anything that connects science and culture, and this article takes it one step further by being all about romance novels—specifically the role of doctor-nurse romance novels in forming an image of the National Health Service in 20th Century Britain.


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