the Little Red Reviewer

Posts Tagged ‘reality TV

I still have a few unread Kage Baker short stories, and I’m going to leave them unread for the time being.  I want there to still be some uncovered gems for me to find, in the future.

so I’m reading some other stuff!

it’s strange, I’m reading two fiction books at the same time right now, and they are SO drastically different. they’re both fantastic, but wow, I couldn’t have picked two books that were more different if I tried!

I’m reading Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, and this book is so cute! Like, I know it wasn’t supposed to be a meet-cute book, it’s supposed to be a heroine’s journey through Mayan mythology book, but It. Is. Adorable. and I kinda need adorable right now?  The premise is that Casiopea starts in a sort of Cinderella situation. She’s living with family who treats her like garbage because the family didn’t approve of her father. They treat her like a servant, a male cousin treats her really, really poorly.  While the family is out one day, Casiopea opens the strange trunk in her father’s bedroom. And who is imprisoned inside the trunk? Hun-Kame, the Lord of Xibalba.  He was imprisoned by his brother, Vucub-Kame, who wanted to rule Xibalba.


is it terrible, that my only knowledge thus far, of Xibalba, comes from the movie The Road to El Dorado?  Yes, that is terrible.

I’m about half way through Gods of Jade and Shadow, and like I said, this book is so adorable.  It’s easy to read,  fun, perfectly paced, and the Mayan Gods are powerful, otherworldly, and yet constrained by the limitations built into their personas. Y’all know I love a story where a god is limited by their own myth, that because they are trapped in a specific myth, they have no free will. Also? Hun-Kame has no idea, whatsoever, how to talk to girls, and his conversations with Casiopea are adorable and often hilarious.  If you are looking for a fantasy adventure set in 1920’s Mexico, something easy on the eyes, and super fun to read, this is a book for you.


On the other hand, if you’re looking for something that takes a lot of energy to read, is #AllTheFeels #AllTheIntruigue , #AllTheHolyShitWHAT , bucket of political theory and a smidge of gruesome,  allow me to introduce you to Seth Dickson’s Masquerade trilogy (at least, I think it will only be 3 books, but who knows).  This is that book, where the young accountant Baru Cormorant crashes the economy because she can,  draws traitors and revolutionaries out because she can,  and executes the woman she loves because reasons.  These books read like the cruelest game of world politics ever played.  they are relentlessly brutal, and I can’t stop reading them!!


I was lucky enough to get an eArc of the third book in the series, The Tyrant Baru Cormorant (comes out in August, I think?), and my eyeballs don’t do well with e-books (oh hai, tension headache!), so I’m only reading it for short bursts, but holy shit is this book good.  it is heavy, and it is beautiful, the prose is gorgeous, and the characterization is even better, and I want to save everyone.  and omfg, the C!  I really like how this series made me look at colonialism and imperialism.  These aren’t message books, there is no preachiness, these books are just people trying to live their lives and minimize the compromises they have to make to survive after the colonizers show up. This series isn’t for everyone, but I really, really, fucking love it.  it isn’t grim, but it is brutal.  Did you read Yoon Ha Lee’s Machineries of Empire trilogy?  remember the brutal brainwashing (but it’s for the good of our survival!), think that, but times infinity.


one of the ways I’m getting through all this current stuff that we are all going through together, is by watching what feels like eight billion hours of Netflix.  seriously, Netflix could double their price and I’d still be ripping them off.


A co-worker recommended the Netflix reality show The Circle, so I gave it a try.

I’m not usually a reality TV watcher, but and I am addicted to The Circle!

Yes, this show sounds totally stupid, and it is totally stupid, but stupid TV is a balm. don’t judge me.

And? the episodes are about 55 minutes, which means I can get an excellent work out in on our exercise bike while I’m watching an episode.

ok, so the premise:

8 people move into their own apartments in what I’m calling “the circle apartment building”. They are quite nice, fully furnished one bedroom apartments.  The players each set up a profile, with 1-2 photos of themselves, and a short bio.


Some people are here to make friends,  some people are here to flirt with everyone. Everyone is here to win.


the players can ONLY communicate through chat rooms and private chats with each other.  This is their only way to get to know each other.  It’s like very limited facebook feed, I guess?   They secretly rate the other players,  and the top two rated people become the Influencers,  and it is the two Influencers who decide who gets voted off the island.


In chats, if you focus your attention two much on just a few people,  and none of those people become the Influencers, you risk that the Influencers haven’t had a chance to bond with you, and you’ll get Blocked (sent home).


If you are an influencer, and you get rid of someone everyone else really liked, you risk that you will get blocked next time.


The winner gets a ton of money



everytime someone gets voted off the island, a new player joins The Circle. New players usually get to spy on what’s going on before everyone else gets to meet them over chat.


Nearly everyone is totally trying to manipulate everyone else.


the fact that everyone is stuck in their apartments, with occasional solo trips to the rooftop garden, feels like something I can totally relate to right now!


a whole buncha these peeps are catfishing everyone else.  and it is WILD to watch them totally out of their league.   they all keep guessing, so far, incorrectly who the catfish is.  I’m wondering if we’ll get to the end, and all the remaining players will be catfishes?


I’m on episode 6, and having a blast.  We recently found out about Sammie’s family,  I nearly cried along with Joey when he saw that video prize, I died laughing with Seaburn didn’t know how to respond in GirlChat with Sean,  and I am #TeamShooby all the way.


The first episode of The Circle went out of the way to make every player look like a self centered asshole,  I appreciated that as the show went on,  people got to be more of themselves.  I don’t feel like anyone is an asshole now.


I like how real some of these people are being, with complete strangers.  Even the catfishes, in private they are genuine.  I don’t think anyone wants to deliberately hurt anyone else’s feelings. And most people are saying really honest things in the chat, things that make them vulnerable.


It’s like having that wall,  knowing the only things other people will ever know about you is the specific things you choose to tell them,  that you can be chatty in a chatroom or not . . .  it almost become armor. Almost becomes protection against pain or embarrassment.    (and I get it. there are things I say on this blog and other public places on the internet that I would never say to the people who are closest to me. it’s weird, right?)


and since people feel safer, they feel like they have a buffer/some armor, they are more likely to show their vulnerable side?  Even when they planned to come on this show to be a manipulator.


but it’s also like – what would you do win all that money? What wouldn’t you do?


I’m really enjoying this stupid show.   I feel like a shit,  because back in the day when reality shows were super new, and the only ones going were Survivor and The Bachelorette, I made fun of people who watched those, because i thought the shows were stupid, and if you watched them, you must be stupid too.


hey peeps who I was an asshole to about reality TV when I was 25 years old, I know this apology is 15 years too late, but I’m sorry I was judgy to you about TV shows you enjoyed.  Because I get it now.




Vigilance by Robert Jackson Bennett

published Jan 31 2019

where I got it: purchased new












My reaction to this book was not subtle.



Like most of his recent work, Vigilance isn’t about what it’s about.  This is not a story about a waitress with a bar full of privileged idiots.  This is not a story about a reality TV executive producer who isn’t as smart as he thinks he is.  This is not a story about guns. The story and the characters are just the oil glistening on the surface.


Although never explicitly mentioned, This is a story about the psychology of fear, and how easy it would be for a media company to make a killing by monetizing fear. This is a story about info-tainment, and how media and advertisers view consumers.


Remember when the pharma companies literally came in their pants with how much money they made off of Viagra? (and in related news)   In Vigilance, it’s the media and marketing companies that are making a fortune off keeping the viewing public in a constant state of flight or flight, a constant state of heightened anxiety, a peak moment when we are least likely to make rational decisions.  And speaking of Viagra, there is the whole “ideal customer” aspect of the book, which either shouldn’t be funny but is, or should be laugh out loud but isn’t. . .  i’m still not sure which.


Ever been to a reality TV show watching party?  It’s fun to watch Survivor with your friends, it’s fun to watch The Bachelor with your friends, it’s fun to watch the Oscar’s Red Carpet show with your friends. We do it because it’s fun. We do it beause we want to see who gets voted off the island, who does or says something idiotic, we do it because we want to talk to our friends about what everyone is wearing. It’s fun to check the feeds online while watching, so that you can feel like the whole world is at your watching party.  It’s fun, right?


We enjoy unscripted reality tv because it’s unscripted. We don’t know what’s going to happen next. And deep down, we’d love to be on that show. Reality TV can be a safe place to be the hero of  your own story, to get positive attention, to have people clap for you.


(there’s a Come on Down! You’re the next contestant on! Joke in here somewhere, right?)


Vigilance is America’s new favorite reality TV show.  Episodes only run every few months, the contestants and the location is kept a secret until the moment the episode begins.  As soon as the online rumors begin of an imminent episode of Vigilance, the social media streams can’t seem to talk about anything but the possible locations for the upcoming episode.

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FTC Stuff

some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.