Don’t just read All the Right Reasons…Experience it!!
I read All the Right Reasons by Bethany Mangle, because the setting of a reality television show sparked my interest. I was glad I picked it up.
Cara and her mom just want a way to get far away from her father after a nasty divorce. But since they are tied up in a family business with him, it’s proving difficult. Desperate, they turn to reality television. Finding themselves the stars of a second chance romance show where divorced fathers and their kids are vying for Cara’s Mom’s hand in marriage seems like the answer to all of their problems. But when sparks start flying for both of them in unexpected places, they find themselves in a more complicated situation than either of them ever imagined.
This book did a good job of showing how reality television producers could likely influence things on the set without blatantly scripting them. There are times where Cara unknowingly plays into drama, without even meaning to, causing her to feel frustrated. The pressure to make something exciting to watch causes both her and her mother to second guess their instincts. I can see how on a closed set, cut off from the world, it could be easy to lose perspective.
I know there is always discussion about whether reality television is actually real. I’ve had these conversations with various people throughout my life. From watching The Simple Life in high school and thinking: There’s no way Paris and Nicole can be that clueless. To binging The Hills in college asking: Why are all of LC’s friends suddenly hanging out with Kristen Cavallari? To devouring seasons of The Challenge, as if my life depended on it, questioning: Do Kenny and Wes really hate each other that much? To streaming Survivor as an adult and wondering: Okay, are they really not giving them any rice this season?
That being said, one of the best times I ever had watching reality television was on a show so comically disastrous I have to assume it was scripted. Have you ever wondered what it would have been like if the movie Clue was a reality television show? Me neither…but someone out there did. (Confession: This is how my husband once described this show. It was so amazing, I had to steal it.) The result: Whodunnit. The year: 2013. The Channel: ABC. The premise: 13 people entered a mansion and on the first day one of them “died”. The remaining contestants then tried to determine which person in the house was responsible for the murders before they became the next “victim”.
At my house, we watched the whole season. Like a really bad accident, we just couldn’t look away. I laughed so much, so very much, at the staged accidents. Reminiscing about this series nearly ten years later the first thing that came to mind for both my husband and I was a particularly over the top scene where a contestant is attempting to escape the mansion before the killer can find them. They commandeer a golf cart, put the pedal to the ground, drive a ways looking over their shoulder like a maniac, and then are blown to smithereens. I can’t even be sure that was the craziest sequence of events that led to a contestant’s “demise”, but it was the most memorable for me.
I honestly can’t decide if this is reality television at its best or worst. I guess after about five minutes I knew what I was getting. I had no one but myself to blame for continuing to watch, and I wasn’t disappointed when it didn’t go how I thought it might, because I wasn’t expecting a cinematic masterpiece. I wasn’t invested enough to get upset. I was happy to tune in and laugh, so that’s what I did. I wasn’t even disappointed when the show failed to be renewed. It had served its purpose.
Unfortunately things weren’t so funny haha for Cara and her mom, but you’ll have to read the book to find out why.
There you have it. Do yourself a favor and read All the Right Reasons. Think about your favorite reality television series throughout time. See how they impact your thoughts about Cara and her mom’s experiences. Maybe watch an episode or two for old times sake afterwards. How real do you think your show is/was? Do you even want to know?
If you haven’t already read All the Right Reasons, what are you waiting for? If you already have, why not pick it up again? Either way, take my advice when you do—don’t just read it, experience it!
…This is totally off subject, but I have to mention it. Bethany made me totally geek out by including a single, brilliant Firefly/Serenity reference. I had to physically hold in what would have surely been an embarrassingly happy sound, because everyone in my house was asleep. I settled for smiling so big my face hurt. If you read and appreciate this reference, you are truly one of my people.