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Personal Essays

The Real World Was Everything Good About the 90s. No Wonder it Couldn’t Survive the Aughts

Pure Wow

May 2022

"It speaks volumes about people, and folks our age. And I don’t think it's going to be forgotten." –Judd Winick, The Real World: Reunion, 1995

There’s a throwaway scene, after the credits roll at the tail-end of a drama-rich episode of The Real World: Seattle (the one when David bellows his love for a casting director named Kira). This seconds-long clip only stands out with 24 years of hindsight. In it, we watch roommates Rebecca and Lindsay, hanging out in a ski lodge after snowboarding for the first time, and convincing a group of random snow-bros that Rebecca is a world-famous, corporate-sponsored, pro snowboarder. The girls commit to the lie so effortlessly that one of the guys soon says, “Yeah! I’ve read, actually in the catalog, you had a little blurb in there, about mantras…?” “Yeah,” Rebecca replies coolly. “It’s all about energy…Kama Sutra.” That’s exactly the kind of ridiculousness my friends and I would have pulled in the late ‘90s. And it would be totally impossible today. The jig would be up the minute anyone Googled you. Sunrise, sunset. Read More >

Why I Can No Longer Tolerate Onscreen Violence Now That I’m a Mom

Pure Wow

August 2021

Warning: Spoilers ahead. 

In Untamed, author and mother of three Glennon Doyle describes her experience watching a reality show about a survivalist who is lost and alone in the wilderness. “Our Survivorman has not eaten for days. He is also out of water. My superpower is empathy, which means that I am often unable to distinguish between what is happening to other people and what is happening to me. So, when my wife walks into the family room, she finds me curled up in a ball beneath a blanket, slowly dying from malnutrition and thirst.” 

This is exactly how I feel about prestige tv shows featuring mothers and/or children in peril. After binge-watching The Undoing, I felt like I was coming undone—so haunted was I by scenes of a young mother’s murder that critics have called “as sickening as television gets.” It did not help that the still-nursing woman’s brutalized-beyond-recognition body was discovered by her 4th grade son. (I have a 4th grade son.) But it wasn’t just that show. I had the same visceral reaction to Mare of Easttown—yet another acclaimed series that kicks off with a murdered young mother. After watching episode one, I furiously googled finale recaps to find out whodunit, just so I could sleep. Even then, my spiraling thoughts included: Who will feed the suddenly orphaned (fictional) baby his (nonexistent) formula?? Certainly not his father’s horrendous new girlfriend! That baby actor’s onscreen cries felt like daggers in my brain. So much for basking in the glow of TV’s golden age.  Read More >

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