The Bookish Lost Media I Wish I Could Watch Again

The Bookish Lost Media I Wish I Could Watch Again

The Bookish Lost Media I Wish I Could Watch Again

Kelly is a former librarian and a long-time blogger at STACKED. She’s the editor/author of (DON’T) CALL ME CRAZY: 33 VOICES START THE CONVERSATION ABOUT MENTAL HEALTH and the editor/author of HERE WE ARE: FEMINISM FOR THE REAL WORLD. Her next book, BODY TALK, will publish in Fall 2020. Follow her on Instagram @heykellyjensen.

Periodically, I stumble upon a story that talks about a purported bookish reality show such as America’s Next Great Author, where writers will go head-to-head in pursuing their dreams of publication for a national audience, or I find myself thinking about the ways popular models for reality shows, like Shark Tank or Top Chef, might work in a bookish capacity. I’m honestly not sure that the world of books and reading is exciting enough for a multi-part or multi-season reality show. And it’s not because I don’t believe in the power of books or reading. It’s just that these activities are not especially exciting ones to watch — how long can you seriously view an author vacuum their home instead of typing words onto their computer? How many different ways will you count a reader adjusting their seating position to find the optimal reading pose? The excitement is inside of us rather than something we project outwardly.

But there have been bookish reality shows before and certainly, there are more to come. I often think about one that has been lost to the sands of time and that I look back at with longing and fondness and desire to watch again, knowing that I likely never will. It is likely truly lost media, even though it was a show that played on real cable TV for a full season. Given that I’ve Googled this show many times since its conclusion and see other people reminiscing about it, I know I cannot be alone in thinking about a show that ran for one season in early 2008 — 16 whole years ago.

That it has been 16 years is in and of itself noteworthy, given this show was entirely about teenagers.

The Paper was an MTV series that debuted in April 2008. That was the year that The Twilight movie first came out, the year when Britney found herself put under an abusive conservatorship by her father, Michael Phelps won eight gold medals in the Olympics, and when Barack Obama would win the presidency. It was my last full year in Austin, Texas, where I was earning a master’s degree in information studies to become a librarian. At the time, I lived in a massive apartment complex but in a unit that had a balcony umbrellaed in trees — my husband and I called it the treehouse because, despite abutting a busy road, it truly felt like a retreat.

After a long day of classes and juggling upwards of three jobs and internships at a time, watching reality television was one of my forms of relaxing that year. We didn’t have much money because of school, and Austin, despite being a cool place to land for a bit, was too pricey for doing much more than enjoying the place to which we paid rent.

It was here when I first stumbled upon The Paper.

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