entertainment

2014: The Year in Review

I'm pretty sure I had one of these.

I’m pretty sure I had one of these.

Can you believe it has been 15 years since the major Y2K scare? Luckily, a lot has changed since the days of pleather pants and Ricky Martin, and I have finally grown out of those bell bottoms I wore as the clock struck midnight. Thank goodness our computers continued to function and the world didn’t end!

2014 was a landmark year of its own, with plenty of interesting pop culture events and trends to reach the masses. I’m still not entirely sure what an Iggy Azalea is or why parachute pants are making a comeback (sorry, but no one looks good in those), but I am happy to report that starting this year, So It Must Be True will begin compiling an annual Year in Review, summarizing some of the highlights of the last 365 days.

Enjoy my last article of 2014 below and have a very happy, healthy New Year! Feel free to add your own categories in the comments section below. :)

2014: The Year in Review

  • faux_outrageTheme of the Year: Faux Outrage.
    Yes, 2014 was definitely the year of Faux Outrage, expressed mainly through social media shares of popular opinion piece articles. We became especially sensitive to all issues, even those we secretly didn’t know or care much about, in the interest of portraying ourselves as Social Activists. Through Facebook and Twitter posts, we shared our outrage over very minor issues and often glossed over the much more major ones. While political correctness and kindness have always been undeniably important, 2014 was the year that we berated each other mercilessly in order to show how accepting and supportive we really were.
  • Word of the Year: “Appropriation.”
    In the interest of Faux Outrage, we often accused even the most harmless of events to perpetuate “cultural appropriation” or “misappropriation.” For many of us, this was the first time we had ever seen or heard this word, but we were excited to use it even when cultural appropriation wasn’t happening. (Note: This is a very real thing, and we should be mindful of the way we treat other people and their cultures, but 2014 often misused and overused the term when it really didn’t apply.)
  • article-swift-0607Celebrity Makeover of the Year: Taylor Swift.
    In 2014, something miraculous happened for Taylor Swift. She transformed herself from “the girl who goes from boyfriend to boyfriend and writes songs about each of them” to “the girl who values her female friendships (and probably, in secret, still has some boyfriends here and there.” T. Swift became known for her signature red lipstick, her chic sense of style, and her coterie of superstar celebrity pals. If Taylor Swift was friends with Lena Dunham and Emma Stone, then how bad could she really be? Taylor Swift also seemed to become a lot more self-aware in 2014 as she fully transitioned to the genre of pop, writing songs that poked fun at society’s perceptions of her. What will Taylor do next?
  • Most Disliked Celebrity of the Year: Justin Bieber.
    My mom has said that if Justin Bieber were her child, he would be in time-out by now for his awful behavior. Does anyone still listen to his music?
  • 532047_10151365719858869_358177475_nSuperfood of the Year: Kale.
    As we aim to #eatclean as part of our New Year’s Resolutions, we can’t forget how much kale has dominated our Pinterest boards in the last year. Other foods that run closely behind: sweet potato (the paleo community’s Superfood of the Year), quinoa, and cauliflower (which has lent itself to gluten-free rice, pizza crust, mashed faux-tatoes, and so much more!).
  • Hot Button Issue of the Year: Feminism.
    Every year, we pick a new cause to make ourselves feel particularly important and well-informed. When I first started college, that cause was environmentalism, as everyone began to concern themselves with global warming. However, as the years wore on, more and more people stopped biking to classes and bringing recyclable bags to the grocery store. In 2014, everyone became a feminist. Many of us were feminists to begin with, but now it was especially in vogue to post Jezebel articles about slut-shaming, body-shaming, and every other kind of shaming imaginable. My personal favorite articles were those that accused certain celebrities of being or not being feminists. When Shailene Woodley (mentioned later in this article) announced that she was not a feminist, the Internet nearly broke. I’d like to think that many of the feminists that emerged in 2014 will continue to defend women’s rights in 2015 and beyond, but the cynical part of me fears that feminism has become just as much of a trend for the sake of being a trend as anything else.
  • TV Show of the Year: Orange is the New Black.tumblr_mr3p0tsiSl1sdc0bvo1_250
    When Season 2 of the Netflix original came out in 2014, social media exploded with posts about the show and the binge-watching that went along with it.  This show received tons of award nominations in the months to come, and will be bringing much of its well-earned popularity with it into the year 2015.
  • Actress of the Year: Shailene Woodley.
    Oh, Shailene, you strange forest nymph/child of the moon. Shailene Woodley, who was known for a few of her roles prior to 2014, suddenly went from pretty-but-unmemorable-unwed-teen-mother-on-television to quirky-nature-loving-movie-star. The young actress had several major movie roles this year, but was even more known for her interesting interviews and homemade remedies for everything imaginable.
  • Actor of the Year: Chris Pratt.
    After getting in shape for Guardians of the Galaxy, Chris Pratt was not only the lovable goofball from Parks and Recreation, but also a total stud. His bodacious new bod, coupled with his funny quotes and infectious smile, made him 2014’s most likable heartthrob.
  • 675d8cc18205907f363667eae27740d6Clothing Trend of the Year: Crop Tops & Dresses.
    Back in the late 1990s and early 2000s, girls aimed to show off their belly-buttons. Crop tops and cropped dresses have emerged in 2014 (popularized by Taylor Swift and other celebrities), this time showing off the upper ribcage but leaving the navel to the imagination. I’m not sure if this will ever be a trend I decide to follow, but if I ever do get that six-pack I pray for every year, this trend will at least help me reveal part of it to the world.

What trends and events do you think everyone will remember from 2014?

Sound off in the comments below!

The Weekend Five: TV Crossovers That Need to Happen

82705raven_01Because I’m a fan of so many TV shows, you’d think I would love crossover episodes. After all, wouldn’t it be awesome to see some of my favorite characters from two or more TV shows, duking it out on one set? Sadly enough, I’ve never seen a crossover episode that I really enjoyed. (I am hoping that the Family Guy/The Simpsons crossover this fall will change that!)

To remedy this horrible problem, I took it upon myself to create five brand new TV shows that involve character crossovers. These shows range from comedy to drama to reality, and will hopefully make the work a lot easier for the writers, as the episodes practically write themselves! Sit back and relax with a bowl of your most buttery popcorn as we flip through these five amazing TV show crossovers.

The Weekend Five: TV Crossovers That Need to Happen

1. That’s So Raymond (That’s So Raven + Everybody Loves Raymond).
Sports writer Ray Barone (Ray Romano on Everybody Loves Raymond) finds himself teaching journalism classes at a San Francisco high school, until one day he begins having visions of the future. His long lost cousin, Raven Baxter (That’s So Raven) teaches him how to harness his psychic powers, but the two get into plenty of costumed hijinks along the way. The show features Raymond’s nagging wife Debra, several sassy catchphrases (“That’s so Raymond!”), and Ray Romano’s glorious Muppet voice.

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1994b04a592e32d67f6d1c08f81e88d02. Boy Meets Girls (Boy Meets World + Girls).
Cory Matthews (not yet married to Topanga, with whom he is currently on a break) and the guys from Boy Meets World decide that New York is the perfect place to spend their twenties. They move into the apartment across from Hannah Horvath and Marnie Michaels (Lena Dunham and Allison Williams on Girls). Cory finds himself fascinated by the younger, fast-talking Shoshanna, while Shawn falls for troublesome Jessa, whose past may be darker than his own. Meanwhile, as part of her quarter-life crisis, Marnie hooks up with the ambitionless Eric Matthews, much to her own chagrin. The show features clever commentary on the millennial generation, Shoshanna’s bizarre hairstyles, Skype dates with Mr. Feeny, and a lot of Lena Dunham nudity.

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3. America’s Next Top Teen Mom (America’s Next Top Model + Teen Mom).
Tyra is always looking for a new spin for her competitive modeling TV show. Why not add MTV’s famous teen mothers into the mix? The young contestants are judged based on their smize, the number of weaves they can wear in one episode, their ability to text and drive, and how well they deal with their baby daddies. The show features lots of tears, a weekly discussion about the contestants’ “realness,” a screaming Tyra Banks, and Jenelle Evans’ hot lawyer.

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once-upon4. Once Upon a Grimm (Once Upon a Time + Grimm).
Once Upon a Time and Grimm, both heavily focused on fairy tales and folklore, hit the small screens around the same time. Putting them together for a spin-off TV show (or at least a crossover episode) would be a no-brainer! Nick Burkhardt, a Portland homicide investigator and Grimm (a hunter who perceives supernatural forces and can fight them), finds his way to the East Coast town of Storybrooke. He and his partner, Hank Griffin, team up with Emma Swan (the daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming) to vanquish whatever villain is currently haunting Storybrooke. Meanwhile, Monroe (a blutbad, much like The Big Bad Wolf) begins an illicit affair with Ruby (Red Riding Hood/Werewolf Extraordinaire). Police Captain Sean Renard takes a liking to Evil Queen Regina (the Mayor of Storybrooke) and they bond over their shared knack for interior decorating. The show features true love’s kiss, several magical fight scenes, Nick Burkhardt’s concerned face, good triumphing over evil, and too much clever dialogue for its own good.

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5. Orange is the New Scandal (Orange is the New Black + Scandal).
Olivia Pope fixes things. But when she finds herself sentenced to a year in federal prison for the crimes she has committed, she can no longer play her role as Washington D.C.’s resident fixer. Instead, she begins helping her fellow inmates with their own issues. She gets Red back to her job in the kitchen, prepares several inmates for their appeals, puts an end to the prison race wars, and even works to improve Crazy Eyes’ image. The show features emotionally-charged prison visits from President Fitzgerald Grant, flashbacks to Olivia’s fabulous coats, a developing friendship between Olivia and fellow prisoner/hairdresser Sophia (who helps her maintain her beautiful hairstyles), and a significantly improved prison system.

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You’re welcome, TV viewers.

Love Lessons from the Movies

e9431ded-5a77-4fec-8942-d8f5b0a500dbRegular readers of my blog will know that I love to write about romantic comedies. From the gender stereotypes they perpetuate to the misconceptions they give us about love to the modern-day endings to classic rom coms, I don’t know if I’ll ever get tired of watching, swooning over and criticizing these films. :)

Of course, the romantic comedies we watch can actually teach us a lot about love and relationships! Below are some of the lessons I’ve taken away from these films, which will hopefully enhance your love life and bring you the happiness you seek!

  • High school is a drag, especially when it comes to dating, but if you change everything about your appearance and personality, you will finally find true love. – Grease (1978)
  • Living under the sea is a drag, especially when your only friend is a flounder, but if you sell your soul to a sea witch in order to change your appearance, you will finally find true love. – The Little Mermaid (1989)
  • Don’t fall in love with a womanizing slacker. Instead, fall in love with his workaholic brother who tried to ship you out of the country so he could complete a business deal. – Sabrina (1954)
  • When you love someone, the best way to show that love is by yelling at the other person. – Katherine Heigl movies
  • Women are most charming when singing among nature or not talking at all. – Sleeping Beauty (1959)
  • If you really want to be with someone who is otherwise engaged, you should wait to reveal your feelings until that person’s wedding day. – Various films
  • If you begin a friends-with-benefits relationship with someone, you will ultimately fall in love and end up together. – Friends With Benefits (2011), No Strings Attached (2011), various other films
  • If you’re otherwise sweet and easy to relate to, then it’s okay to steal your best friend’s fiancé. – Something Borrowed (2011)
  • It’s not an inappropriate age gap if the older person in the relationship is undead and still looks like a teenager. – Twilight (2008)

Readers, what are some of the lessons you’ve taken away from the movies you’ve watched? Sound off in the comments section below!

Link Love Thursday: Harry Potter is Back!

CA.0802.harry.potter.hallows.2.Good afternoon, friends! We are (sort of) back to our regularly scheduled programming here at So It Must Be True, and once again, I’m excited to share the latest batch of Link Love. Hope everyone had a fantastic Fourth of July weekend filled with friends, family and ESPN’s hotdog eating contest!

Happy reading! What are some of the best links you’ve come across this week?

The Weekend Five: TV Couples Who Should Have Ended Up Together

TV Couples Who Should Have Ended Up TogetherA pop culture junkie through and through, I can’t help but have some strong opinions about the television shows I have watched over the years. From universally hated finales to unhealthy relationship pairings, even our favorite TV shows will disappoint us from time to time.

This week, we’ll talk about the ones that got away – the TV couples who should have been together when the series ended. Feel free to add your own favorites in the comments section below!

The Weekend Five: TV Couples Who Should Have Ended Up Together

1. Dan and Blair (Gossip Girl)
Throughout Gossip Girl, both Dan and Blair experience their share of relationships. The Upper East Side’s Queen B begins the series in a long-term relationship with golden boy Nate Archibald, falls into an emotional on/off affair with bad boy Chuck Bass over several seasons, and even marries the Prince of Monaco. Dan, a writer and outsider from Brooklyn, falls for socialite Serena van der Woodsen (Blair’s sometimes-best friend), briefly dates Hilary Duff and begins to raise a child he soon learns is not his. Let’s face it: these characters have a lot going on.

At the start of the series, Dan and Blair come from very different worlds and have nothing but disdain for one another, but as the seasons wear on, we learn that the two actually have a lot of common interests and chemistry of their own. They form a very close friendship that eventually evolves into a brief relationship, but the writers quickly force a breakup because the two characters were never supposed to be endgame material. Blair ends up with the emotionally and physically abusive Chuck (who once traded her for a hotel), while Dan ends up with the aimless Serena. Moral of the show? Shared interests and the ability to have real conversations with another person are nothing compared to rocky relationships with emotionally unavailable people! (“Dair” was pretty great while it lasted, though, and it definitely made the show a lot more interesting.)

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2. Shawn and Angela (Boy Meets World)
Many of us grew up watching Boy Meets World and wanting the idyllic Cory/Topanga relationship, but to me, the more interesting couple was always Shawn and Angela. Shawn, Cory’s best friend, had a rough family life and difficulty staying in a relationship longer than two weeks. Angela was the first girl he really committed to, dating in high school and college, and his character grew a lot during that relationship. They part ways when she leaves for Europe to be closer to her father (which is a valid reason to leave), but the couple never really gets closure.

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TV Couples Who Should Have Ended Up Together3. Rory and Jess (Gilmore Girls)
First, let me just say that I hated Rory’s Yale boyfriend, Logan. To me, he never really came off as a fantastic boyfriend, and I was happy to see that she breaks things off at the end of the series and leaves for her dream job (a positive portrayal of a young woman who temporarily chooses career over relationship). However, if Rory was meant to be with anyone, it was always Jess, Luke’s nephew. Although a troublemaker who doesn’t always know how to be the best boyfriend, Jess grows in his relationship with Rory and (much like Dan and Blair of Gossip Girl) the two have some very real shared interests. Both experience their highs and lows over the next few seasons, but Jess ultimately grows up, achieves some of his goals and becomes a better version of himself. In some ways, he and Rory are at a much more similar point in their lives by the end of the series. I’d like to think that after Rory fulfills her dream to work with Christiane Amanpour and Jess publishes his next novel, the two settle down and live a happy, drama-free life together.

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4. Jackie and Hyde (That 70’s Show)
I know that everyone is looking back nostalgically at Jackie (Mila Kunis) and Kelso (Ashton Kutcher) because of the actors’ real life engagement/pregnancy, but I always preferred the pairing of Jackie and Hyde. Although an unlikely pair, the two characters work well together on the show and develop considerably throughout the relationship. Things go downhill when Jackie demands an engagement and Hyde marries a stripper, but with the way the show was written, it all felt like a wild misunderstanding that would eventually be resolved. However, the writers never seemed to explore the relationship again, instead bringing Jackie and Fez together in a final season that felt a lot more like fanfiction than the actual show.

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TV Couples Who Should Have Ended Up Together5. Ted and Tracy (How I Met Your Mother)
Yes, readers, I am still mourning this devastating loss! The show How I Met Your Mother, in which Future Ted tells his teenage kids about how he met their mom, opens with the story of how Ted met Robin, a woman he immediately thought was the love of his life. We quickly learn that she is not their mother. Ted and Robin date for a few seasons, but have some fundamental differences that would affect marriage and children in the future, so they eventually split. Over time, we realize that Robin truly is not The One for Ted, and he finally lets her go right before she marries his close friend, Barney. At the wedding, Ted meets the bass player, Tracy, and immediately falls for her. During their conversations, we quickly see how perfect they are for one another – their pronunciations of “Renaissance,” their dorky shared interests, the many ways they unknowingly crossed paths over the years.

The writers do a great job of convincing us that Tracy is Ted’s soul mate, the one who made nine seasons of heartbreak all worth it. Then, after the characters meet, Future Ted reveals that Tracy died and that he’s in love with (now divorced) Robin again. The entire episode felt like a slap in the face and like complete regression of his character (and possibly an April Fool’s joke), but the writers stuck to the ending they had planned years earlier, ultimately disappointing their fans. After all Ted has been through, he deserves his happy ending with Tracy!

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What are some TV couples you think should have ended up together? Do you agree/disagree with any of the above?

The Role of Women in Romantic Comedies

sandrabullockIt has become a widely accepted fact that the plots of romantic comedies are just not realistic (for further proof, see here and here). Growing up with the now often-parodied teen flicks of the 90s and early 2000s, I can attest to the fact that the movies I watched when I was younger played a huge role in the misconceptions that I and so many of my peers had when it came to relationships. If a guy treats you poorly, he likes you. If you argue a lot with another person, it means you have chemistry. And if all else fails, you’ll probably just wind up with your best friend anyway.

I think we can agree that these misconceptions are harmful, but until recently, I didn’t stop to think just how harmful their portrayals of women could be. Most female characters fall into two categories: desperate to fall in love and get married (think of Ginnifer Goodwin in He’s Just Not That Into You), or too career-driven to ever want or attract a man (Sandra Bullock in Two Weeks Notice, The Proposal, Miss Congeniality or perhaps any other movie she has ever been in). Let’s call this second character Jane.

No-Strings-Attached_240These movies do an incredible disservice to Jane and characters like her because they paint them as cold, out of touch and clearly Missing Something. In fact, there is usually a best friend character prone to “messy” relationships who summarizes this sentiment early in the film by stating that Jane is so set in her ways and afraid of getting hurt that she risks finding true happiness. Also, would it kill her to put on a little more makeup and wear her hair down once in a while?

Never mind the fact that Jane loves what she does for a living and is well suited for it. Pop culture tells us that the woman who focuses “too much” on her career is simply doing so to distract herself from finding a soul mate. Only when she lets her hair down (literally and figuratively) and demonstrates some form of vulnerability, perhaps by crying or getting drunk in front of the male love interest, does she open herself up to a happy life. Only then does she truly become the character we like and root for. After all, what man would want to be with a woman who enjoys her job?

In real life, there are gradients between these extremes. Women who love their careers and enjoy being in a relationship do exist. In addition, there are plenty of men who like independent women. Why do we have to box ourselves into these two very limited categories? (And for the women who don’t ever visualize themselves in a relationship, who are we to judge?)

ginnifer-goodwin-purple-nails-he's-just-not-that-into-you-nubar-pasadena-purpleWe value a woman’s willingness to be in a relationship as a trait to be valued, but not her independence. In the movies, Jane’s “independence” is clearly just a wall she put up after someone hurt her, a wall that is meant to be broken down by the male lead. (Jane’s best friend or love interest in the film may actually use the whole “wall” metaphor in a big speech that makes her realize just how closed off she has been the entire time.)

If a woman rejects a man or decides to put her career first, pop culture labels her as cold. (Tweet this!) What the movies – and the people who watch them! – fail to think about is the fact that we all have different priorities at different points in our lives, and while a woman may hope to marry and have babies someday, she might not be ready for that stage.

There are a few exceptions to the romantic comedy genre that don’t posit relationships and careers as an either/or for women, but all too often, pop culture dictates that we must choose (and that “career” is the wrong choice). Society – and women especially – need to remember that these options are not mutually exclusive, and that they can have both.

The Weekend Five: Worst Girlfriends on Television

marissa-cooper,-the-oc-129434

Last week’s edition of The Weekend Five focused on some of the worst boyfriends on television, so as someone who believes in gender equality, I think it is only fitting for this weekend’s post to focus on the worst girlfriends on television! (I’ve also written about the worst boyfriends and worst girlfriends in literature.) We may be huge fans of these characters, but I doubt that any of us would, in good conscience, introduce these ladies to the single males in our lives.

What TV character do you think would make a terrible girlfriend? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!

The Weekend Five: Worst Girlfriends on Television

1. Marissa Cooper (The O.C.)
Okay, this show has been off the air for quite a long time, but Marissa Cooper was a memorable teen soap character for so many reasons — mainly, the drama she often brought with her. From shoplifting to dating the lawn guy just to upset her mother, Marissa constantly needed to be rescued, and often dragged the men in her life (especially bad boy next door Ryan Atwood) down with her. While nice enough on her own, Marissa Cooper was always better off single.

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2. Catherine de’Medici (Reign).
I mentioned Catherine’s husband (King Henry of France) in last weekend’s post, but of course he didn’t get to be the way he was on his own. The fictional version of Catherine de’Medici is power-hungry and conniving, not to mention one of the worst mother-in-laws currently on TV. You wouldn’t date her for the same reasons you wouldn’t date Lady Macbeth.

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Jan3. Jan Levenson (The Office).
The Office may no longer be airing new episodes, but Jan still stands out as terrible girlfriend on TV. Once the love interest of Michael Scott, Jan revealed herself to be crazy and unpredictable over the course of the series. After losing her job and moving in with Michael, she even commands him to get a vasectomy, reverse vasectomy and another vasectomy at different points. Jan becomes even more insane and uncomfortable to watch over time… which means that she does not get better with age. Better avoid this one!

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4. Paige McCullers (Pretty Little Liars).
A lot of Pretty Little Liars fans enjoy Paige’s character and believe that she and Emily Fields (one of the Liars) make a great couple. However, what people fail to remember is that before the two high school swimmers ever dated, Paige tried to drown Emily in the pool during a fit of jealousy. Someone like that is not someone you should ever trust again in close quarters!

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ouat5. Emma Swan (Once Upon a Time).
Let me preface this by saying that Emma, the daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming, is an awesome heroine and an interesting character to follow. I have nothing against her. But bad things seem to happen to the men who fall for her: the Huntsman has his heart literally crushed by the Evil Queen, Adult Pinocchio almost dies and is returned to childhood, her New York boyfriend turns into a flying monkey, and don’t get me started on Neal/Baelfire, the father of her son! While I am not-so-secretly rooting for Emma and Captain Hook to wind up together, I fear for his own safety in a relationship with Emma (a.k.a. The Savior). Besides, Emma is often too focused on breaking a curse or saving the town to even think about being in a relationship!

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Your turn! What TV characters do you think would make the worst girlfriends?

How To Win “The Bachelor”

bachelor-juan-pablo-galavisIt’s Monday night, and for many of us (read: women across the country between the ages of 18-49), that means it’s time to tune into the latest episode of The Bachelor. Now, I have not disillusioned myself into believing that this is the ideal way to entrap attract your ideal mate, but I’ll admit that the show can be incredibly addictive, even if you aren’t enamored with bachelor du jour Juan Pablo Galavais.

On each season of The Bachelor, grown women cry when a man they barely know (but have determined is the only man for them) decides he doesn’t feel an immediate connection and sends them home without a rose. Of course, much heartache and suffering could be spared if these women learned the ins and outs of wooing America’s bachelor. Luckily, through several viewings, I have been able to unlock the code for winning The Bachelor competition, and I’m sharing the wealth with you! Ladies, if you’re thinking of auditioning for The Bachelor, look no further. This guide will guarantee you airtime and at least a spot in the final four, if not a proposal.

You do not talk about winning The Bachelor.
Although The Bachelor is, in fact, a dating competition, you are not supposed to acknowledge this. To do so is a HUGE betrayal to both the Bachelor himself and to the other contestants, who will personally take offense to the fact that you see them as competition. Instead, befriend everyone to a degree, and look down upon anyone who says, “I’m not here to make friends. I’m here to find love.” This person will emerge as the season’s villain, and will rarely win.

courtney-the-bachelorYou DO NOT talk about winning The Bachelor.
Seriously, must I repeat myself?

Have a cliché catchphrase that is SO you.
My favorite is, “You can take the girl out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the girl.” Wear a sundress with cowboy boots and find a meadow to stroll through while you say this, because it creates a nice visual that viewers will find charming, feminine and nonthreatening.

Turn your dates into metaphors.
Going cliff-diving? Tell the camera crews that you can’t wait to “take the plunge” or “take a leap of faith” with The Bachelor. Spending the night in a dark cave? “___ has made me see the light.” Be creative but not too creative – your metaphors should be accurate, but still somewhat predictable in relation to the date itself. The more you are able to do this, the more airtime the producers will give you, so that even if The Bachelor doesn’t fall in love with you, America will.

the-bachelorMake dramatic confessions that aren’t that dramatic.
It is important to “open up” in a serious but not too serious way. For example, tell The Bachelor that you have a confession to make, and then confess that your parents have been married for 30 years and that you want a marriage like theirs. You can brush on family life and loosely discuss past relationships, but avoid any mention of political beliefs, religion, or anything else that could cause discomfort. Instead, wait until he proposes and then let it slip out when your families meet.

Be memorable, but not too memorable.
Quirkiness can come across as adorable, but you can only take it so far. There is a difference between “Zooey Deschanel–quirky” and “I am growing a mustache on purpose and I have a pet possum” quirky. Try to avoid the latter.

the-bachelor-lindsay-shows-up-in-wedding-dress-shocks-sean-455x422Stock up on evening-wear and casual “I put 4 hours into looking effortless and low maintenance” outfits.
This shows that you can be the graceful trophy wife he’ll want to show off to all of his friends, but that you’re also laidback and “up for anything.” Buy as many evening gowns and cocktail dresses as you can, because you will be seen in them and you can’t wear the same thing twice on television.

Stay out of the drama.
As soon as you tattle on one of the other girls (even if she is 100 percent wrong), you will be sent home – or, at the very least, you will be the last to receive a rose in that night’s ceremony. Even worse, the girl you’ve told on will likely receive the rose before you do! If you think that someone is doing something wrong, encourage one of your “friends” in the house to tell on her instead!

Fall for him immediately.
It doesn’t matter that he’s two feet shorter in person than you imagined him. It doesn’t matter that you have nothing of substance to talk about. It doesn’t matter that he embodies most, if not all, of your pet peeves. As a contestant on the show, you are not allowed to have an opinion on these things. Because of this, you need to envision a future with The Bachelor immediately and talk about it a lot when interviewed.

Worst case, you can always tragically exit from the show and become the next Bachelorette! :)

Spoiler Alert: Next Season on ‘The Real World’

1333904005936_3463943After a week-long reality TV binge, I discovered an entirely new talent worth pursuing: casting for MTV shows. Although I lack the personality traits of the typical reality show contestant, I have watched enough to know how to handpick the perfect cast.

Because of this, I would like to provide my own guide on how to select seven strangers to live in a house, have their lives taped and stop being polite/start getting real.

1. Everyone should have an affinity for going out and drinking. Potential cast members, this is the time when you should talk about your love for tequila shots in an interview. If you like to stay in some nights and curl up with a book, you are clearly in the minority of all people between the ages of 18 and 24 and therefore shouldn’t even audition. You should be ashamed of yourself.

2. Make sure that one cast member has been sheltered for most of her life, and likely to make naive comments. This person is likely to bring a lot of the comic relief to the show, albeit unintentionally.

3. Choose one member of the LGBTQ community, and one person who is “uncomfortable” with homosexuality. This person is probably from the South. This person may also overlap with the person from #2, and his/her discomfort may border on bigotry. The two will probably share a bedroom.

real-world-logo4. Select one cast member who is in a committed relationship. The other cast members will mock this person when they find out she (it’s always a “she”) doesn’t plan on hooking up while on the show. She will claim to love her boyfriend, but they will either break up preemptively because of their perceived long-distance relationship problems (mini rant: um, hello? you will only be long-distance for two months at most, so just chill out and enjoy a new city for a change!) or she will cheat on him with one of the other housemates.

5. Select one cast member who wants to be single and vows never to date any of the housemates. This person will fall in love within the first two weeks of the show.

6. The more explosive the personality, the better. Pick cast members who “tell it like it is” and aren’t afraid to confront each other.
7. Look for at least one person with serious emotional issues. Instead of referring him or her to a professional, cast this person on your show. He or she will quickly reveal his or her deepest secrets with the other roommates in a matter of days.

8. Select at least one male cast member who is clearly only in it to get girls. Chances are, he will bring a lot of young ladies back to the house, where they will make a mockery of themselves and maybe even boost ratings.

9. Select at least one cast member with a dark and hidden past. He or she will share this information with the cameras on Day One, but act completely shocked when he or she learns that the whole world is about to find out his or her secret.

10. Leave them in a house together with access to only certain bars, restaurants, stores and attractions. The drama will unfold on its own – no scripting required!

Readers, am I missing any of the core casting rules? Who would you look to cast?

What If “The Bachelorette” Realistically Portrayed Relationships?

931245_581100941922086_1773207484_nThis week on The Bachelorette, Desiree treated the men to a group date with rapper Soulja Boy, where they filmed their very own rap music video parodying the show’s earlier seasons’ contestants. This group date, although entertaining to watch, was probably one of the more ridiculous dates ever filmed on The Bachelor or The Bachelorette, and this is coming from a girl who already thinks the show is bananas. (The whole time, I not-so-secretly hoped that Desiree would give the rose to Soulja Boy, and that they would ride off into the sunset together in the convertible that ABC gave her for the show.) Meanwhile, on the first one-on-one date, Desiree exhibited stage-five clinger behavior by wearing a wedding dress for the afternoon. As someone who is not a total cynic when it comes to relationships, and for whom marriage may one day be on the horizon (albeit a horizon on a distant planet that hasn’t been discovered yet), I would like to warn men everywhere that if a woman wears a wedding dress on the first date, it may be wise to change one’s phone number. But I digress…

Reality dating shows are never realistic. We accept this as fact from the moment we begin watching, and so when we learn that the Bachelor du jour and his pretty blonde administrative assistant fiancee have called it quits just months after taping, we are not even remotely surprised. We’ve been expecting this the entire time.

brad-womack-proposes-to-emily-on-the-bachelor-march-2011I’ve been observing the mockery that shows like The Bachelor and The Bachelorette make of dating and relationships. They follow the same basic formula: A woman meets 25 attractive men, goes on adventurous dates that are somehow metaphors for the relationship, converses with them about what love means and what their past relationships were like, whittles it down to a few top contenders and chooses her final match while an 80s love song plays in the background. The men in the house create their own drama, ultimately ganging up on the one man who seems to want the other men out of the picture. The conversations are superficial at best, and the word “engagement” becomes synonymous with “dating someone exclusively and not ruling out an eventual marriage.”

Of course, these shows are purely for entertainment… but what if they weren’t? What if shows like The Bachelor and The Bachelorette actually portrayed a budding relationship more accurately?

The show would go something like this: A woman meets 25 men. Some of them are attractive in a generic sense, some are not as traditionally handsome but interesting enough in a way that she finds especially attractive, and some are just not her type but are worth a shot. On the first night, she eliminates several of the men because, while briefly dating them might be nice, she can tell that the long-term potential isn’t there, and she doesn’t want to waste their time by making them sit through a few more doomed weeks on the show. Her first dates with each of the contestants are extravagant and fun, but as the show wears on, the conversations become more serious, and instead of having endless discussions about “love” and trying to vaguely define it, they discuss their interests, goals (not just family-oriented, but personal goals too), preferred parenting methods… and perhaps, eventually, taboo topics like religion and politics.

JEF, EMILY MAYNARDNot all of the men fall immediately in love with her, and some will leave the show on their own accord because they don’t see a future. Some are there to take advantage. The woman may weed some of those out, but a few may slip through the cracks.

Not all of the dates are wildly glamorous – some include movie nights and grocery shopping and day-to-day tasks that normal, non-TV couples have to endure. The woman’s friends may meet the contestants at one point and provide their own two cents, because sometimes there are red flags in relationships that we are unable to see. On one date, the woman takes a contestant to an important work event in order to see how he interacts with her co-workers and how he would behave at these functions if they dated long-term.

Occasionally, the woman may argue with the contestants, but this doesn’t cause her to send them packing. Arguments are normal; the way they are dealt with determines whether or not the woman will keep the contestant around.

The woman says “I love you” when she feels ready, not when she is contractually obligated to do so. She sends all but one man home when she knows whom she cares for the most and sees the most potential with. (She doesn’t need to send three men to the fantasy suite before deciding!) The show does not end in an engagement, because they haven’t known each other long enough to commit to something so serious, but the dates do give her an idea of how they would behave in a relationship together.

Of course, none of this would ever last for more than a season because it would hit too close to home! Maybe we like to suspend disbelief for two hours a week, so that we can observe these snapshots of “love” without letting it border too closely to our own relationships. What would your version of The Bachelor or The Bachelorette entail?