Chick Lit Challenge for January: Reality TV Bites by Shane Bolks

Reality TV is probably my guiltiest pleasure, and I’ve watched everything available to me.  Whether it is the moving, reach-for-your-dreams tone of American Idol, the cattiness of the Real Housewives, the cheesy and downright annoying boardroom scenes of the Donald and The Apprentice, or the engaging talent of wannabes in Project Runway and Top Chef, reality TV just makes me want to stop and watch all 60-so minutes of each episode.  The fact that everything is supposed to be real—save for the strategic editing angles to create interesting stories—somehow makes it strangely more authentic than the obviously more intelligent and substantial shows that come straight from writers’ minds.

It’s reality TV and chick lit—two of my greatest obsessions.  So when I chanced upon Shane Bolks’ Reality TV Bites, I felt both my greatest escapes coming together to create the ultimate getaway.  Here I met Allison Holloway, of the model-worthy face and figure and cosmopolitan life as a glamorous interior designer and heiress to her parents’ vast fortune.  Mind you, she’s not exactly Ms. Perfect—she’s part slutty and part insecure—and this somehow makes her real.  Sort of.  The connection to reality TV is made when Allison’s employer, Interiors by M, is commissioned by a Japanese production company to take part in a reality show called kamikaze Makeover that curiously sounds like Extreme Home Makeover, but ridiculously exaggerated and obvious in its portrayal of media objectives regarding commercialism and ratings.  Decorate the home of a struggling family for free?  Yes, that’s the point.  Use vibrators as elements for every room?  Hit the ratings jackpot.  It kind of reminded me of Iron Chef America, wherein the chefs are required to cook an entire meal using a ubiquitous ingredient, like, say, chicken feet.  On top of all this, Allison got into a steamy game of flirting tag with suave Nicolo Parma, erstwhile European prince and the show’s producer.  Of course, regular, sports-loving guy Dave has to be in the picture to balance the equation.  In the end, Allison realizes that Nicolo just played her to get her to violate show rules, and she finally runs into Dave’s all-American arms.

The story just had to emphasize the ‘reality’ angle to parallel Allison’s life, as she resolved her commitment issues and use of sex to compensate for her troubles since childhood.  However, this seemed a bit confused and convoluted, since the whole thing was clearly to prepare her for a real relationship with Dave.  Though Allison redeemed herself eventually (through a flimsy resolution that revived her career and reputation), I felt that the narrative went through so many twists and turns that it became difficult to follow the logic and relevance.  Also, there was this problem with the book’s writing:  in some chapters, Allison kept using the word ‘fudge’ to replace a more familiar, to-the-point four-letter word, but in some parts she sounded more controlled and sophisticated.  It’s almost as if the novel was written by two people.

Well, I can’t really claim that Reality TV Bites is one of the best I’ve read, but it was fun in some parts.  Just don’t read it in one sitting.  Better yet, I recommend you take it with you and read it while at the dentist or at long supermarket queues.  Can’t get any more real than that.


Samantha said...

I am a sucker for reality TV! I will have to check this one out.

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