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i keep telling myself this isn't a reality tv newsletter

2 min

and yet...

First, I’m going to talk about catching up on reality tv history. Then, because it’s been so long since I’ve sent a newsletter, I’m going to post a bunch of links to things I’ve worked on in the past few months.

The Jersey Shore is good

I’ve never really had any strong inclination to watch The Jersey Shore. There was no strong principle behind it, I just didn’t know why I should watch it, and so I never did. But I’ve been binging the podcast The Cast, where hosts Rae Sanni and Jacquis Neal discuss iconic reality tv moments and construct their dream reality tv cast based on the people who made those moments happen. And as someone who is obsessed enough with reality tv to also develop imposter syndrome around the limits of my experience (say, for example, the fact that I have never watched an episode of The Real World), The Cast has been helping me dabble in all the shows that have passed me by.

I highly recommend the podcast if you love dissecting what makes for a good reality tv moment and castmember. They do a great job of parsing through the different types of people who show up on reality tv, and their episode about an iconic The Jersey Shore moment (a fight over who sent an anonymous note about one girl’s boyfriend cheating on her at a club) finally did what so many 2010 blog posts handwringing about the show did not: convince me that this cast is reality tv gold. There’s just something about the way they described Snooki’s wit and JWoww’s entire demeanor and Vinny’s voice of reason that had me sold, and I am happy to report that I have finished the first season of The Jersey Shore and love it.

I think one of the things that confuses me is that this is probably one of the most violent reality tv shows I’ve watched—there’s probably at least one punch thrown an episode—and yet even when the castmates hate each other, they also kind of clearly care for each other too? And not in the “Well, I guess we’re stuck together,” kind of way. Like there’s an actual affection in how they joke and take jokes from one another. And combined with their utter lack of self-consciousness (Snooki dancing by herself on a boardwalk is truly inspirational), this show just feels like a good time and un-cynical.

I know this might change, especially because this season precedes what would become a massive amount of fame for the cast. So I’m curious about what they’ll be like in season 2, when everyone is an actual celebrity. My experience with other shows has been that usually fame makes things worse. But I am an idiot, which means I am also hopeful, so we’ll see where this goes.

Some things I’ve made in the many, many months since I last sent a newsletter

Over on my booktube channel, I talked about The Ripped Bodice's diversity report and how we talk about data in general, as well as in diversity conversations.

Meanwhile, nonfiction book club has been going for more than a year, and I had a lot of fun recapping my frustration with grad school curriculum and that one professor on my quals committee with a very patient Nicole as we discussed The Gene: An Intimate History.

In addition to writing for Journey to the Microcosmos, I’ve also occasionally started hosting. In this episode about shapes, I mentioned a shameful secret.

The entire team behind Crash Course Organic Chemistry is amazing, and not just because the writing, animation, and sound all came together to let me bring Real Housewives to a show that is ostensibly being watched by people trying to deal with orgo.


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