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America has become captivated by reality television. Shows like Big Brother, The Bachelor and its counterpart, The Bachelorette, have become necessary staples in the everyday lives of some of the most sophisticated and intelligent people in the country. Whether self-proclaimed reality-television junkies or closet watchers, Americans find entertainment in programs that follow 'normal' people through everyday-and-not-so-everyday situations, thus creating a bigger phenomenon than the sitcom and everybody is cashing in on the craze.
In "As Seen on TV," Sarah Mlynowski, author of the novels "Fishbowl" and "Milkrun," embodies the country's infatuation with reality television in her main character, Sunny Langstein. Sunny is an educated, career-oriented, 24-year-old who has decided to pack up her life and leave her Florida roots behind to live with her boyfriend, Steve, in his New York apartment. She spends the first part of the book actively searching for a job in the city, but after her only potential employer gives the job to another candidate, Sunny finds herself thrown into the whirlwind that is "Party Girls," a reality television show that documents four women's crazy ride as they visit different clubs, meet different guys, and wear lots and lots of different clothes.
Sunny, the level-headed one of the four, agrees to do the show for a lack of anything else to do, at first using it to buy her time while she finds a real job. However, she slowly becomes obsessed with the show and her newfound celebrity (she searches her name for hours on the internet) and everything else takes a backseat to her new career, including her boyfriend who doesn't just take a back seat. He may as well be curled up in the trunk.
While "Party Girls" paints a vivid picture of how smart people can get sucked into the world of reality television, the reader can't help but want to smack Sunny to bring her back to the real 'real' world. The book did allow readers to see what reality show participants experience when the cameras aren't rolling, however not many junkies care to think about that kind of thing while watching "Temptation Island" and "Average Joe."
"As Seen on TV" is worth reading, if the reader can laugh at some of the silly situations in which Sunny finds herself and not close the book out of annoyance for Sunny's stupid behavior. This novel feeds into the addictive mindlessness that reality television has become. While viewers want to turn the television off when a reality program comes on, but can't bring themselves to press the button, readers of "As Seen on TV" may want to close the book several times, but won't be able to keep it closed. "As Seen on TV" is just as addictive as "Survivor," but instead of contestants who haven't bathed in weeks trying to kick each other off an island, this book has girls with too much makeup, not enough clothes, and all the alcohol they want trying to edge each other out of camera range and it gets just as ugly.