Thursday, January 21, 2016

Freelancing And That Time I Got Schooled By Scott Baio's Wife

This past week, someone tagged me in a FB post because it was a call for a writer who could write 150-200 words to recap the best moment on The Bachelor every week. I don't watch that show. I've never watched that show except for a few minutes here and there during the very first season at the end of the season to see if the ending was actually some sort of wedding. It wasn't. I did watch that show about the guy who was a construction worker and the women who wanted to date him because they thought he was rich. Because, you know, lying and dating are fun to watch.

Anyway, the reason I was tagged wasn't because I'm a fan of The Bachelor (as aforementioned and to be clear, I don't watch it). It was because I used to watch all reality TV all the time (except for The Bachelor). My online platform for weekly opinionated rants about these shows was Not only did I write for the site, but I also participated on the Message Boards. That's where I learned how to play some whodunnit murder game. I'm still not sure how to play, but it was lots of fun. I was able to geek out and have a reason to watch reality tv. This place was heaven. I have Carrie Grosvenor to thank for it. We all do.

Because of RealityShack, I watched shows that I never thought I would have watched. I'm not saying all the shows I watched were because of this website, but I am saying I watched more than what I would have. I watched a show called The Gastineau Girls. Did you even know that was a show? Probably not. There were so many shows on channels like VH1, E!, and Bravo that I stopped recapping one particular show and started writing a column called And THIS Is Why I Love Reality TV that selected a show a week to uncover.

Some of the writing I did was over-the-top snarky. At that time, I figured, if you put yourself on television and act like an ass, then you are giving everyone permission to talk bad about you. I made fun of a lot of people. The more yoga I've done over the years has mellowed me out to be a lot less snarky and a lot more compassionate. Like now when I watch Bad Girls Club, I wish I could swoop in and mediate their differences rather than ranting online about who wore what. As a side note, I don't think I ever wrote anything snarky or otherwise about any of the girls on BGC. I was not looking to get my ass kicked.

I did receive an email from a very enraged wife of Scott Baio once. I know it was her because someone else on the site had interviewed her, and the emails matched. I'd written a column about his ever-evolving show about getting married and having a baby (I think that's what it was about--it may have been about him getting married and playing golf). I wrote something flippant about how he would probably have a show in the future called Scott Baio Is Now Divorced. Right now, that doesn't seem witty at all. It was much wittier at the time and in the context. I mean, Scott Baio had risen in the reality tv ranks quite a bit back then. I didn't think much about the column until I got this raving email that defended Scott Baio and told me, in an actually very nice way, that I knew nothing.

And I did know nothing. I knew nothing about anything. I really didn't get why the column struck such a chord until I remembered that line about the future show about his divorce. Then it clicked that I was writing about real people, and sometimes those people would be hurt by things I wrote that I thought were silly and meant nothing.

I didn't really apologize apologize. I did write a follow-up column about her email to me. It was completely self-deprecating. It was also a reminder that I never did research and knew nothing. That was kind of my writing-personality back then. I constantly called myself a lazy writer. And I was. I never looked up how to spell names or to check on specific places or dates. When I received messages about incorrect items I'd written, my response would be: Let's all remember that I'm a lazy writer.

This new thing about The Bachelor has me excited. I don't know if I'll get the gig, but in my email to apply for it, I dug through miles of cyberdirt to uncover a trove of reality treasure. I found the archives for In those archives are some of the best and worst columns about reality television I've ever written. I don't know if I've uncovered all the articles--there were hundreds, I think, and I wish I could find them all!--but a large smattering of throw-back reality programming still lies in the depths of the interweb. I sent along one of my recaps of Jersey Shore. It's laden with drunken Italian nights and a little bit of judgement. Writing recaps of that show took hours. I remember sitting on the floor of my living room, laptop literally on top of my lap, my ass falling into a coma as I watched, paused, typed, watched, paused, typed, watched, paused, typed. It was exhausting, but the overall end-product, for me, was always worth it, not because I loved this show or any particular show for that matter, but because I was writing and people were reading and I was making people react, and that's what writing is all about.

As for the archives: here you go. Go ahead and click on it. You know you want to.

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