Reality Matters

“Considered essays and useful analysis of the fakery/reality issues.” — The New Yorker

“Fun, funny and surprising.” — Penthouse

“Insightful.” — USA Today

“If there’s anything more entertaining than experiencing the guilty pleasure of reality TV firsthand, it’s reading a bunch of brilliant people trying to rationalize their obsession with the genre.” — Flavorpill

Reality Matters is well aware of the ridiculousness of its idolatry, and seems to take a certain perverse pleasure in walking the tightrope between praise and denigration…as varied and eclectic as the genre it examines.” — Sacramento Book Review

Essays by James Frey, Neil Strauss, Jerry Stahl, Toby Young, Melissa de la Cruz and more

Shirtless Machiavellian men determined to win at all costs. Giggling girls transformed into sobbing wrecks in the back of limousines. Pillbox hat-wearing fashionistas creating dresses out of leaves and twigs. Say what you will about reality television – the form of entertainment that’s dominated our small screens for the past decade – but there’s no denying the fact that it gives us characters that make the fictional ones we follow seem downright dull. Ridiculous challenges, hair-pulling catfights and hot tub make-outs dripping with the kind of regret that a viewer but not a participant can see are only part of what makes reality TV addictive for anyone interested in pop culture, people, or life. In this collection of wry and moving essays – curated by novelist and media watcher Anna David – a cast of leading young writers explores the programs we obsess over, cringe at and occasionally feel inspired by. From a Real World casting call and American Idol tattoo to an in-depth analysis of what makes one woman a “Heidi” and another a “Lauren,” a slew of best-selling authors dish on the shows that have left them speechless, triumphant, or both:

Toby Young on being part of a mostly asthmatic rowing crew on a British reality show;

Neal Pollack on how his obsession with the “winner” of Married by America reflected his fascination with unstable women in general;

Stacey Grenrock Woods on surviving a recession in the era of the Real Housewives;

And more …

Entertaining and insightful, Reality Matters is a must-read for anyone who unabashedly adores reality television, occasionally admits that Cesar Milan, Stacy London, and Dog The Bounty Hunter do offer up pearls of wisdom, or simply wonders just how real any of it really is.