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My Obsession with Jamie Dornan in THE FALL

11 Feb
You want intensity? I'll show you intensity.

You want intensity? I’ll show you intensity.

by Madeline Iva

I know, I know, some people worship Jamie Dornan for being Christian Grey in the 50 Shades franchise. I didn’t.  I perfectly indifferent until I saw him in a television show called THE FALL.  Then I got on board the Christian Grey/Jamie Dornan train. And how.

THE FALL gripped me by the scruff of the neck and won’t let go.  Speaking of scruff–Jamie Dornan wears scruff like no other.  Purrrrr.

One caveat — the show is slow.  It takes it’s time, both in being understatedly sensual, and in terms of deliberate pacing.  That’s its one flaw.  But other than that, the show just got to me, and how.

It feels so incredibly wrong to be hot for a character who is a serial killer.  I was hoping 50 Shades would give me a Jamie injection without all the, well, evil.  (But he’s a *good* father!) Rolling my eyes at myself.

Serial killer. Good father. You know how it is.

Serial killer. Good father. You know how it is.

So here are some reasons to check out Jamie Dornan in THE FALL and just become a fan in general.

  1. THE IRISH LILT.  Seriously, I could listen to him all day. It was a shock to start watching 50 shades and he had an American accent.  WTH????
  2. HE’S SUCH A GOOD DAD. I remember appreciating how hard it must have been for Jamie Dornan, who just had a wee little innocent baby to turn around and play a very hard-core decadent guy who’s into everything that’s the opposite of happy.  Yet in this role, it’s clear that Jamie Dornan found his way into the character through the character’s identity as a father and his emotional engagement with his daughter.  It’s touching. I know from doing research on serial killers that in fact, some serial killers actually do sincerely care about others in their lives and take actions to prove it.  Of course, if serial killers aren’t really monsters — if they are human, at least some of the time, then this is what makes them so horribly hard to catch.  This show shows the serial killer not as monster, but as human. A father and a husband.
  3. YOU LIKE CHRISTIAN GREY’S INTENSITY? Paul Pector is intensity squared.  Those haunted eyes. Shivers.
  4. HE DOESN’T ALWAYS KILL What I hate about myself watching these serial killer shows is that I keep wanting to not believe in absolute evil.  This show does a good job of exploiting that–but reveals how *stupid* it is for women to believe that someone who’s done violence to women won’t do it again.  The Fall also exploits how much we women want excuse bad behavior in men. He didn’t kill everyone.  He left some water for that one girl.  He didn’t physically harm his family. Yet it’s extremely dangerous to look for that kernel of goodness and grow it up into something bigger than it really is. How easy it is for the characters to forget he’s extremely dangerous–even for a second–even when he’s behind bars–and make a mistake.
  5. HE’S DILIGENT This is another true-to-life aspect of the show, and another trick for audiences. We admire hard work, and as he gets into a tight spot, but keeps working hard and diligently to get out of it–we are almost rooting for him.  There’s almost a giddy feeling that he pulled it off–and he is wondering over how he didn’t get caught that time.  Jamie Dornan does a wonderful, nuanced job–the scenes where he bathes the corpses–OMG. I have to give a lot of credit to the director–because everyone else in the show is just as good. But they’re not Jamie Dornan.
  6. HE NOTICES THE SMALL THINGS ABOUT A WOMAN Gillian Anderson wants to pry open his soul by the end and get him to admit what he did.  She knows that her sexuality will be effective–and it is.  He notices the details that Anderson’s character chooses when she interviews him.  He notices and at the same time he knows exactly what she’s doing.  Yet the conundrum of humanity is that he still ends up responding to it.  Her interview is akin to a seduction.  He does open up — and what happens is along the same lines as a romance.  The woman who had no power took on the mysterious, silent man, and now she wins everything she wanted– because of her femininity, and the man’s unwilling subconscious response to it.  Only in this situation, she doesn’t want a mansion and kids, she wants him behind bars for the rest of his life.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t further twists and challenges ahead.  This show does not go easy on women–and in doing so it gets across the gritty reality of the world we live in.  I LOVE IT SO MUCH for that reason alone.  But the real genius to the show is it uses the compelling form, face, and eyes of Jamie Dornan to turn me into Paul Spector’s willing victim.

One Hot Zombie Husband, Please!–And Other Lustful Zombie Stuff

2 Feb
santaclaritadiet

Let that repressed manic side out, Timothy Olyphant.

by Madeline Iva

On Friday night I’m watching a new show called THE SANTA CLARITA DIET on Netflix. Why? Two words: Timothy Olyphant. The guy has a kind of restrained mayhem vibe that makes women purr. He’s good when he’s a bad boy, and I like it when he does the humor thing, but really underplays it. Let’s hope he gets to do both in this new TV show.

What’s unusual is for Olyphant to be part of a duo, for he often plays the lone wolf.  Yet he’s a supportive husband (awwww) as his wife’s body goes undead and her twisted feral id coming to life. (Peeps, this could be my own marriage we’re talking about—esp. when I’m on deadline.)

As for the rest of the show–we shall see.  I lurv Drew Barrymore and early reviews say the supporting cast is excellent.  The creator is Victor Fresco who did the short lived but great (!) show BETTER OFF TED, which walked the line of absurdism and also had a supportive, understanding, and munch-a-licious lead.

But hey, let me be your zombie pimp and recommend some other zombie joy you may have overlooked. My preference is for zombie comedy/satire. Take R in WARM BODIES.  So cute and so protective in his own teenage, shuffling, groan-y way.

Click to buy the DVD

Click to buy the DVD

 

There’s also a wonderful funny little book call BREATHERS.  Subversive and with a sexy element that I quite enjoyed.

Click to buy.

Click to buy.

Have you seen the movie SEAN OF THE DEAD? It’s a bit like The Office meets zombies. Quite surprisingly daffy and satiric all the way through.

Imagine The Office as a zombie flick. Click to buy the DVD...

Imagine The Office as a zombie flick. Click to buy the DVD…

Meanwhile, let us not forget some serious Zombie smut, like what you’ll find with our own Isabelle Drake’s SERVANT OF THE UNDEAD along with Daisy Harris’ mix of not-quite-human stuff.  I lurved Hariss’ “Steins” and sex bots.  In BUILT FOR IT Harris discovered M/M erotic romance and never looked back. (Can you even get these books anymore Daisy?)

 

557e4e368babb5e201b7f2d2b531d8cbOnce upon a time, Lexi waxed philosophical on the ethics of sex with an undead body. I, dear readers, completely understand.  Who really wants to kiss decaying flesh?  On the other hand, a zombie is nothing if not a metaphor.  Give me your metaphors–satiric, comedic or full of pathos and killed by societal excess and ennui.  Sometimes we all seem a little rotten to the core.  Zombies get to wear their decay on the outside where it’s all embarrassing and visible.  Ultimately, they’re monsters and I dearly love a monster-hero, even if his heart is dead and cold.

That’s not to say that one can’t enjoy zombie horror.  Lexi has traced the path of an end-of-the-world romance on the Walking Dead that I’ve followed probably with more enjoyment that I took in watching the actual show.  Check out her posts:

LIFE AMONG THE DEAD: IS MICHONNE READY TO LOVE AGAIN?

THE DEAD DELIVER: IS THIS THE SEASON FOR RICHONNE? 

DEAD ON! REJOICING FOR RICHONNE

If you do like your zombies with a lot of blood splatter, there’s a movie coming out called THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS.

You'll slurp it up if you like post-apocalyptic action/adventure. Click to buy.

You’ll slurp it up if you like post-apocalyptic action/adventure. Click to buy.

The book was gripping–I stayed up all night reading it.  I’m sure the movie will be excellent too, but check out the book first. It’s post apocalyptic, British, and I liked how the balance of characters in the book were female.  They seemed to have deliberately switched around the race of the characters in the movie.  Hmmmmmm.

There’s also World War Z — not your typical zombie genre book.  It’s totally different and only about a thousand times better than the movie. (Sorry Brad Pitt.)

Another book I've read in one sitting. Click to buy.

Another book I’ve read in one sitting. Click to buy.

Well, time for me to do some groaning and shuffling myself as I sign off to go jog, shower, and write. Follow us at Lady Smut.  We give you reasons to live.

wickedapprenticefinal-fjm_high_res_1800x2700Madeline Iva writes fantasy and paranormal romance.  Her fantasy romance, WICKED APPRENTICE, featuring a magic geek heroine, is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and through iTunes.  Sign up for Madeline Iva news & give aways.

 

For Your Amusement: Three Diversions to Occupy Your Impatient Mind

24 Jan
Dorothy and Lucas, from Emerald City. This ain't Kansas, and that guy's no scarecrow.

Dorothy and Lucas, from Emerald City. This ain’t Kansas, and that guy’s no scarecrow.

By Alexa Day

Three weeks until The Walking Dead comes back.

Eight months until Pitch returns.

Day 3 of the new President’s first 100.

These are hard times for an impatient woman. I found myself in search of diversions, something to take my mind off the political clusterf*ck that is social media. Something that would make time go by much, much faster.

I got lucky this week and found three.

1. Emerald City. Mixed opinions follow Emerald City, an NBC series inspired by L. Frank Baum’s Oz books. It’s a dark reimagining of the stories many of us know best through the 1939 movie The Wizard of Oz. But the Oz books were darker than the film, and the series is darker still. Just within the first few episodes, the story reveals prostitution, ritual suicide, and the introduction of gun violence into a world that’s already a pretty dangerous place.

I love it.

Visually, Emerald City is quite a spectacle. The spires of the titular city rise high over the sea, and we’re treated to a variety of sweeping landscapes. Everything looks just unreal enough. It’s a big change from the Technicolor experimentation of the film.

Women dominate Emerald City’s storylines. The Wizard has forbidden magic in the realm of Oz … and magic is used primarily, if not exclusively, by women. The story traces several women’s relationships with their powers, whether their magic is stifled, latent, or on full, startling display. Morality, identity and power come together in fascinating ways, and before long, the Oz of Emerald City starts to raise questions that have troubled women for a long, long time.

Oh … and the Scarecrow’s never looked quite like this.

Give it a try. It’ll make you think.

2. Playboy. I wrote a while ago about what Playboy would be like without its nudes. I popped over there last weekend, looking for something to read, and I was very pleasantly surprised. Playboy has always upheld a somewhat proud literary tradition; its track record with short fiction is long and impressive. And then there’s the Playboy interview, whose question-and-answer format gave Alex Haley a way to use laconic jazz legend Miles Davis’s curt responses. When I read Playboy, I really was there for the articles. But I’ll confess that I haven’t read any part of it in a pretty long time.

I don’t know if the disappearance of the print pictorial has anything to do with it, but my recent visit to the website revealed a wealth of women writers, alongside their male counterparts. The lineup of articles includes coverage of the Women’s March (including the best of the signs), questions about women, jazz and La La Land, a critique of modern journalism, and my favorite — a peek at how much better sex can be with an unattractive partner.

Are there still scantily clad women on the Playboy website? Sure. But I work in a world of scantily clad men. I will not now be seen to point fingers.

3. Exhibit Unadorned. In its struggle to redeem itself this past week, Facebook introduced me to a new-to-me blog, Exhibit Unadorned. Kayla Lords, a woman I’m proud to call a Facebook friend, wrote this interview with Exhibit A, a male sex blogger from London. Exhibit A didn’t match my stereotypes of what a male sex blogger would sound like. Sure, his blog has a whole page of links to dick pics sprinkled generously through his posts. But his post about a sex party he attended with his girlfriend would be at home in any erotic romance. A his-and-hers commentary about a shabbily written list of sex don’ts is too cute for words, and all too true.

I feel bad for being surprised by this. I don’t really have a reason, other than being narrow-minded, to think that a male sex blogger can’t produce this kind of inviting, fun, sex-positive work. Perhaps Snctm left a bad taste in my mouth.

If you’re looking for a diversion for the next 98 days and beyond, I hope I’ve given you a lot to click on! We’re all in this together, after all. And if you’ve got diversions to share, hit me up in the comments.

And follow Lady Smut. The time will just fly by.

Pitch Is Perfect

3 Jan
Is hair like that the secret to happiness? Can I give it a whirl and get back to you?

Is hair like that the secret to happiness? Can I give it a whirl and get back to you?

By Alexa Day

Right up until the mid-season finale of The Walking Dead, I was prepared to complain about the direction the show had taken. I’d spent most of the seventh season tuning in to listen to the endless rambling of Negan, who is basically a schoolyard bully with a baseball bat wrapped in barbed wire. I could not figure out why people who had driven glass into their enemies’ eyes or torn out their enemies’ throats with their teeth were afraid of a big Chatty Cathy doll with a bat, and I’d started to lose interest in that particular mystery.

But I have to thank Negan for something. If he hadn’t annoyed the living daylights out of me, I might never have spent half an episode looking for other things to watch. If I hadn’t gone shopping for alternatives, I would never have found Pitch. I think I may be the last person in North America to have found the Fox series about the first woman to play major league baseball, but my tardiness meant I could binge-watch the whole season, so I’m grateful for it.

Pitch rescued me from the depths of television despair. It’s amazing. It’s given me reason to believe in regular network television again.

How?

Well, the easy answer is that it’s clearly put together by people who give a damn about what they’re doing and have the talent to do it well. I think that’s getting lost in television these days. How much television is being produced by people writing random stories that don’t make sense because they don’t think you’ll ever quit watching? Too much.

The true beauty of Pitch is that it isn’t about baseball at all. It’s about a large group of tight-knit characters who interact with each other and each other’s issues against the backdrop of baseball. Baseball is more of a setting in the way that New York City is a setting. It’s important but it doesn’t drive the story.

A lot of other things make Pitch beautiful.

1. There are no one-dimensional characters, even in the secondary cast. We know that Ginny’s agent, Amelia, used to represent celebrities, and so we know why she needs to protect Ginny from herself. We also know that Amelia’s struggle with infertility cost her a relationship, which adds a touch of vulnerability to her hard-charging facade. The general manager (Mark Consuelos, looking good) recruits a Cuban player by pitching a doll’s head at him. It’s the opening to a very well written conversation about two immigrants whose lives were changed by an all-American game. Ginny’s teammate, Blip, and his glamorous wife have an argument about how their marriage is not built on what they each wanted from life. It’s hard to create an entire cast of well-rounded characters, but there is a giant payoff in feeling every character’s fears, joys, and crushing disappointments. There’s a bigger payoff in not knowing whether a beloved character will find the happiness they want so badly or face another setback.

2. Complex feminism. I missed Pitch when it first showed up in September because I thought it was going to depend on one-note feminism. If I knew that a woman could do the job, and she knew she could do the job, I didn’t want to spend a whole season watching her prove it to the world at large. (In September, that felt a lot like the real world.) Pitch establishes right away that Ginny can do the job well enough to stay on the team. Much of the rest of the season touches on the kind of things women have to deal with in the universe outside professional baseball. Ginny has to balance her job with her social life; her groupies are all female and with her job, she struggles to find time to date. Ginny and her agent have to deal with leaked nude photos. (Their solution, which involves the ESPN Body Issue, is brilliant.) Ginny’s entire family has always wanted her to achieve this level of success, but once she’s arrived, they all have different issues with her. None of us are strangers to the pressure to maintain an image, build friendships, find romance, and establish a solid professional standing. Watching Ginny try, and sometimes fail, to do it live on the JumboTron made me want to cheer for her all the more.

I was surprised by how badly and how quickly I wanted to put my face against all that beard. Very badly. Very quickly.

I was surprised by how badly and how quickly I wanted to put my face against all that beard. Very badly. Very quickly.

3. Mike Lawson. Mike’s not the typical sports hero. The bottom half of his face is hidden beneath a thick beard. He’s starting to go to seed. Much is made of his bad knees. Age is catching up to him and he knows it. He’s the team captain, and he keeps the younger guys in line with the knowledge and wisdom that come with a long career. But that career has cost him just about everything, and when we join the story, we’re watching him deal with the ruins of the marriage he sacrificed to baseball, the erosion of his body, and the threat of being replaced. Mike’s earned his alpha status with the team, but we get to see him in private, too, at his most vulnerable. I’m not sure that we as romance writers are creating enough characters like Mike, but he’s the reason I keep coming back. I have the highest hopes for him, along with the deepest fears.

Of course, there’s bad news. Nothing’s free in this world, right?

As magnificent as Pitch is, we won’t see new episodes until next fall. That’s criminal, but I can see how it might have happened. It just bothers me that I have to wait that long to rejoin the story, and I’m scared that Fox will come up with some baseless reason to get rid of it.

I’m also worried about what will happen to Pitch if it does come back. Right after watching the world fall apart for all these wonderful characters, in exactly the way the world should fall apart in a season finale, I sat back with a contented sigh and wondered if I’d ever felt so happy with a television show. That’s when I remembered Sleepy Hollow. That first season finale was a thing of beauty. After that, it was like the writers became jealous of its glory and tried to destroy it. They finally succeeded by killing one of the leads, but they worked really hard to wreck that show before then.

(Sleepy Hollow isn’t completely dead, by the way. It’s just dead to me.)

So while I’m working through the next several months, waiting for Pitch to return, I’m on the lookout for other distractions. Fanfiction writers are already linking Ginny and Mike, which sounds just lovely to me but might not be the best idea for them. And I imagine I could be seeking out more sports romances during this long interval.

Just be warned. Pitch has presented me with an appropriately diverse professional baseball team. I will be pretty disappointed to find that romance can’t do the same.

Follow Lady Smut.

I’VE SEEN STRANGER THINGS THAN BAD MOMS WEARING CROWNS

1 Dec

 

by Madeline Iva

How was your Thanksgiving? Mine was inspired. As promised, I binge-watched a ton of TV and movies letting my brain waves rest for a few days. And yes, I’ll be talking about foreskin before I’m through with this post. But let’s talk about STRANGER THINGS***–before we get to the turtleneck.

STRANGER THINGS takes place in the 80’s and yet I noted how it was different from the actual movies of the 80’s:

1) Weirdness wins!

2) Unlike any proper 80’s horror movie, the popular ‘slut’ doesn’t get slaughtered in the first act. Instead her stodgy ‘good girl’ friend is the one who ends up bloody and eventually missing. Huzzah!

Anorexic girl with a P.E. folder--so 80's it hurts!

Anorexic girl with a P.E. folder–so 80’s it hurts!

3) The weirdest of the weird in this show is a girl named Eleven–AND I LOVED HER CHARACTER SO HARD. She’s beautifully androgynous, as well as full of raging destructive and weird powers.

Note to self: Why am I not writing characters like this?

Warning: you're about to get a skewed sense of this TV series, as scene through the distorted lens of my obsession with Eleven.

Warning: the skewed sense you’re getting of this TV series is because it’s through the distorted lens of my obsession with Eleven.

4) The single mom Winona Ryder (who’s a mess) doesn’t need a man in the end.  I walk around with romance colored spectacles all the time, so I’ll admit I kept a keen eye on Winona, wondering if she and the gruff, hulking chief would connect as they started working together to find her missing son. Nope. By the end of the season she’s still a single, shambolic mom–and perfectly content to stay that way. For her it’s a happy ending (but not for everyone else—bwa-ha-ha!)

STRANGER THINGS explores how parents had to communicate with their children before cell phones existed.

STRANGER THINGS explores how parents had to communicate with their children before cell phones existed.

Ultimately, this show was mega-inspiring. Totally rad. Hella bitchin cool. To the max.

Speaking of BAD MOMS–No—I can’t go there yet.

Let’s talk about the Bad Mom with a Crown first.

THE CROWN — It’s like Mad Men for women. Elizabeth is not well educated, or at all prepared to be queen. She was only in her twenties when her father surprised everyone by dying and leaving her to inherit the crown. Her work in the first season is to repair her own deficiencies in the very best British way—by honestly admitting them and tackling them head on.

THE CROWN--in which power carries a handbag and waves funny.

THE CROWN–in which power carries a handbag and waves funny.

I like this show. Yes it’s British propaganda and yes, the attitudes of the people are excruciatingly conservative. But upholding traditions four hundred years old necessitates a bit of a conservatism, doesn’t it?

What I enjoy is that Elizabeth is not the kind of person who glitters, charms, or has brilliant moments of insight. She’s not the princess in a fairy tale who sweeps through the grand palace. She is excruciatingly ordinary.  She sighs over the necessity of living in a giant, ugly, palace and she dresses up with the same stoic attitude I have while doing stomach crunches at the gym. She’s also not really a mummy. Charles and Anne have their nurse, and that should be sufficient. Elizabeth seems at her most content as a mother watching from a distance while her handsome husband plays with the children out in the yard. The show portrays her without a maternal bone in her body. (Why is this so exciting to me?)

Huzzah to Clair Foy, meanwhile.  She’s the actress playing Elizabeth AND also Anne Boleyn in WOLF HALL.  Nice work if you can get it.

While I’m not saying Elizabeth’s not smart, at the same time she clearly wasn’t precocious or intellectually curious as a child. Punctilious in her duties, she’s a bit of a worker drone all in all. She loves horses, her husband, and her sister–perhaps in that order.  But in the beginning she makes mistakes in these most important relationships, promising her husband and sister things that she can’t deliver because she didn’t at first understand the forces who control and apply pressure to someone in her position.

At the same time she must face up to people seeing her exactly as she is–warts and all. I admire this and I cringe.  She doesn’t hide or lie about who she is–ever. I, meanwhile, constantly vacillate between anxiously wanting to please people only to swing right around in the other direction where I’m being so intensely, brutally myself that I alienate them. Gah!

In her role as queen, Elizabeth is not nurturing, motherly, or accommodating to others in ways we tend to expect of women; she’s simply in charge. She does her job with exactitude and diligence. Elizabeth learns the very difficult task of figuring out what this other persona is that she’s expected to inhabit–being The Crown. We see her negotiate being that persona out in the world and at home, and perhaps it’s because she has such a firm grip on herself in terms of who she is and who she isn’t that she gets through smoothly most of the time.

When people (i.e. politicians) attempt to walk all over her, she reminds them—in the very best British way–that she is the queen, and a woman of character, and in her own stead-fast way, a force to be reckoned with.

SPEAKING OF BAD MOMS – No. I still can’t.

SPEAKING OF THE 80’s: If you’re looking for a light comedy—check out WORKING GIRL on Netflix. I’d seen it when I was very young and really loved it. Seeing it again, I realized it is a transgressive fairy tale for the 80’s.  (I assume it was made in the 80’s.  The hair is REALLY big, and shoulder pads are everywhere.) It’s a million times better than Pretty Women, IMHO.

Transgressive 80's Cinderella story.

Transgressive 80’s Cinderella story.

Despite what the title suggests, Melanie Griffith is a lowly Staten Island secretary who wants to leave her life as a wage slave and become an executive. (Become an executive–snort–such an 80’s theme!) Her new female boss, Katherine (played SO WELL by Signorney Weaver) points out that

  • you have to finesse the scum bags—Hey, hasn’t Megyn Kelly has been telling us the same thing lately? Nuts to that, a lot of feminists say.
  • you have to make your own opportunities.

Yes! I hadn’t realized how much this movie influenced me.  When I saw it the first time I was a lowly minimum wage worker.  I then managed to become a creative writing instructor through creating opportunities for myself—and not always asking for permission before doing so, mind you.

Although the female boss Katherine turns out to be the villain of the movie, Melanie Griffith takes her advice. She makes her own opportunities. She doesn’t ask for permission. No guts, no glory. And with a lot of support from Harrison Ford, she succeeds.

OKAY – so now let’s all embrace foreskins and talk about BAD MOMS.

The best part of bad moms--the part that made me cry, was where the actresses were hanging out with their own real moms during the credits...

The best part of bad moms–the part that made me cry, was where the actresses were hanging out with their own real moms during the credits…

I watched it at my sweetie’s insistence.  Poor guy, he’s been so sick, he was looking for some light-light-light comedy to watch and because we both really like Kristen Bell, we decided to check it out. But I came to the film with very low expectations having seen Jezebel’s review/snarl/yawn.

Even so, I was mightily underwhelmed. Let us be clear—there was one bad mom in this film.  One. And she was not the lead–she was the rebel side-kick.  But let’s not dwell upon all that was meh about the movie. Let’s dwell instead over the one weird pause in the film where the women stop to have a frank discussion about foreskin.

–Particularly about how to deal with it face to face when knocking boots with a guy.

Let me first confess that the only foreskin I’ve ever seen is on baby boys while changing diapers when I was a nanny. Sweetie says based on what he sees at the gym (not that he’s looking closely or anything) foreskin was once rare for U.S. men his age or older, but now it’s something you’re probably going to encounter as a single woman dating men of the millennial generation.

Just the same I have to wonder–is this really a big deal? Is this a thing? I mean, yes, the evil world of marketing strives to make us cripplingly insecure about our bodies in every possible way. (Vaginoplasty anyone?) Are men being subjected to the same twisted pressures? Are they now expected to feel less-than because of a perfectly natural part of their bodies?

I vaguely recall some TV episode (was it House?) where a teenage kid took a razor to himself because he felt less attractive to girls. Are we really going there?

On one hand, Bad Moms seems to validate this ‘issue’ by showing some anxiety about encountering foreskin.  Yet they also seem intent upon delivering a message of acceptance.

And how could you not love the moment where the rebel Bad Mom side-kick tells Mila Kunis how to manipulate the foreskin during foreplay while using Kristen Bell’s head to demonstrate?

On the other hand, I’m just goggling over the fact that the movie kind of comes to a dead halt to deliver this rather hilarious PSA.

Oh well. Thanksgiving is over. Back to the daily grind for me.

I’m writing my next book about a Wicked Enchantress–who is NOW going to be a beautifully androgynous character full of raging destructive and weird powers. Huzzah!

And if you like weird, powerful, smexy women, then follow us at Lady Smut.

wickedapprenticefinal-fjm_high_res_1800x2700Madeline Iva writes fantasy and paranormal romance.  Her fantasy romance, WICKED APPRENTICE, featuring a magic geek heroine, is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and through iTunes.  Sign up for Madeline Iva news & give aways.

***I must offer up a humble apology to my writer friend S.A. Hunter. She recommended STRANGER THINGS to me back in September before anyone else was talking about it. People, life is too short to sort through all the crap out there. When a good friend makes excellent recommendations, you listen to her. You treasure her. You don’t turn up your nose and shrug off her suggestion as I did. I was wrong to do so, and hang my head in shame. You are the more discerning, better friend, S. A..

 

Good Behavior. The Dark Romance You Should Be Watching

21 Nov

by Kiersten Hallie Krum

That’s right, I said watching. Good Behavior is a television show, newly debuted on the TNT network last week and holy cats, is it a doozy. It’s like the best dark romance we’ve never before had on TV and didn’t realize we were missing, with an unlikable heroine you wanna root for despite the jail time and the drugs and the booze, and a villainous bad boy with potential alpha hole tendencies you want to climb like a tree despite, ya know, that whole pesky hit man thing.

good-behavior-5

Also, it’s *seriously* hot. They are seriously hot together, and they’re not even sure whether they like one another yet, but they’re stuck together and, holy hopping snot, do they spark.

Lately in Romancelandia, the dark romance has become a thing–or a thing again as some form of dark romance has been around since the late eighteenth century. In its current conception, these are romances where the hero is a mobster or something nefarious and comes into the heroine’s orbit through some criminal manner. He proceeds to do some pretty terrible things to the heroine, despite having feelings for her. Often, these terrible things are sexual and there’s a lot of explanation about how the heroine shouldn’t like what she’s doing and oh this is so bad but she can’t stop it or A Bad Thing will happen. Things proceed, bad guys often show up putting lives in danger, feelings grow, behavior is forgiven, lather, rinse, repeat. I’m blasé about this sub genre because to me, it smacks too much of the rapetastic, forced seduction, Great Misunderstanding historicals of the 80s and early 90s only updated from disenfranchised Scottish bandits and English roses to Russian Bratva and the daughters of their mortal enemy. That’s not to say I don’t like romances with heroes and heroines of dubious character and motivation. Done right, I *love* them, but I’ve yet to find a “dark romance” that makes me care enough to send my very best. Even after reading all of the Dark Mafia Prince books and Kresley Cole’s The Master, The Professional, and The Player series, both highly recommend dark romances series, yet I remain unmoved. Though I will add the caveat that the biker romance sub genre could absolutely be seen as dark romances and, as any regular Lady Smut reader will know by now, with those books I am totally on board.

I DVRd Good Behavior because TNT advertised the crap outta of it for the last two months and that usually annoys me enough to either tune in to see what all the hype is about or tune out completely (which is what I did with that Animal Kingdom show despite the fact that it features the great Ellen Barkin). It took me till midway through the second episode to realize I was basically watching a dark romance, and, this time, I was loving it.

Given the lack of a comparable “blurb”, here’s the gist of this show: con artist, meth head, alcoholic, Letty Raines (Michelle Dockery, late of Downton Abbey) has just been let out of jail early for good behavior. She’s trying to stick to the straight and narrow, as ugly as that often becomes, in order to get back her parental rights to her son. But she can’t keep from her thieving ways, ways that include robbing high-end hotels (and that also involve ever entertaining costume and wig changes). While she’s robbing one hotel room, the guest returns early. As she hides in the closet, Letty overhears a hit man planning a murder with the soon-to-be victim’s husband.

Eventually, Letty makes her escape, but she can’t stop thinking about the woman who is about to be killed. She goes back to the hotel in a different disguise and tracks the hit man to a nearby club. After manipulating their version of a meet cute, she and Javier (for such is his name) proceed to have the best date ever, during which Letty gets totally hammered. They totally lie to each other nonstop through the entire date, but they’re both also having an outstanding time, sparking off one another second by second on multiple levels. They are totally into each other.

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Dinner leads to some smoking hot sex, as it so often does, thank sweet baby Jesus. In the morning, Letty manages to sneak a peek at the information for the hit. She tries to warn the woman who is to be killed, but Javier (Juan Diego Botto) is right behind her and, when she and the victim confront him over a shotgun, he tells the victim that she knows why she’s been targeted even if he doesn’t. It’s here that the victim grabs the shotgun from Letty and holds it on Javier. So clearly, she definitely does know why she’s been targeted. By now, sirens can be heard as they called the cops before confronting the hit man. Javier, mostly unruffled by this chain of events, orders Letty to take the car out front, along with the money in it, and go. Letty, still a work in progress, goes, leaving the other two to whatever will play out.

Shaken by what’s happened, Letty decides to do a swan dive off the wagon, buying up a bunch of meth and washing it down with vodka. First though she calls her parole officer and leaves him a broken message about how she’s giving up and giving in. In the middle of her bender, Javier finds her (making a wildly dramatic entrance). He flushes the rest of her meth down the toilet and tells her that, since she took his money, she now works for him.

That’s just episode one.

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In episode two, Javier forces Letty to play his wife at an exclusive hotel in the Smokey Mountains. He’s on a job and he needs her to play the role. Role-playing is what Letty does best–both on the job and in her life–and she can’t escape the siren song of all the wealthy trappings that surround her, waiting to be plucked. Plus, there’s the fact that Javier will kill her if she tries to run.

good-behavior-1

And he absolutely will do this. He might not want to and he might hate doing it, but make no mistake, Javier is more than capable of killing Letty. She knows this and believes this, but she’s also deeply attracted to him and not just sexually, though that continues to flare. It’s like once the light goes on and Javier realizes she’s a thief and a con artist, all the pieces click for him and he really likes the puzzle that falls into place. He doesn’t like the drugs and self-destructive behavior, but he does like the woman he sees is there once Letty gets over and past her own shit. She genuinely wants to be a better person, she just keeps giving up. Javier doesn’t pat her hand and placate by saying, “I know you’re trying,” he tells her “Try harder. You could do if you’d just stop screwing up.”

Javier gets her. He gets all of her. By the time he catches up with her, he knows her entire past, her rap sheet, her sentencing, what made her lose her parental rights, even how many abortions she’s had, for crying out loud. The guy’s information is damn thorough. And when he reads down the laundry list of her crimes, ticking off her life in one line item after another, the despair that engulfs Letty to hear her life encapsulated like that is palpable. When, seconds later, Javier points the gun at her forehead, Letty closes her eyes, waiting to die because, after that list, what really does she have to live for?

Initially, Javier does seem to plan to kill her, but in that moment, he sees something in her that stops him. I think he sees how broken she is and just can’t put her out of her misery. Because he also sees (as does her parole officer, ironically) that she has immense potential to live an extraordinary life if she’d just stop screwing it up. So instead, he kidnaps her and forces her compliance in his next hit.

Letty is drawn to him. She disgusted by and terrified of him, but she’s also keeps coming back to him. She could’ve seen him go to the club and, knowing he was out of the hotel, go back to his room and find the information on the hit. But she follows him instead and forces a meet, then goes to dinner with him and then to bed. She feels that pull too and despite ongoing attempts, can’t shake loose of him. Part of this is because Javier knows she’s a runner and is constantly in her path. He doesn’t want to kill her and more doesn’t want to lose her, and so he puts in considerable effort into keeping on top of her. But this is still a seriously scary dude.

Established as a couple on the 10th anniversary trip, Letty makes friends (as ordered by Javier) with the wife of his mark. She can’t keep herself from lifting a necklace from the woman’s friend, though, and later models it for Javier. They commiserate over the gullibility of the woman and sink more deeply into their role play, spinning out the fiction of how they met ten years prior and how he won her. This leads to some sexy times–like, uncomfortably sensual without being exploitative or extraneous–in the middle of which Javier whispers, “Happy Anniversary, baby,” with a wicked grin. And Letty laughs, full and unabashed, no calculation, because in that moment, they’re still role-playing their fiction, but yet there’s a level on which it’s deeply real, and they both know it. They get it. They get them. (This was also the moment when I was completely done and totally in.)

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Afterwards, he again orders her to return the necklace and he gets pretty damn scary about it too when she bucks, all while still inside her. Yeesh, it’s awful but still so sexy. It’s the dark romance!

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This is Letty’s last straw and she finally bolts, but she’s waylaid out the back of the resort by the mark and his wife who are sneaking a joint. Forced by the role-play to smoke with her new friends, Letty’s still there a moment later when Javier comes around the bend. He immediately hauls Letty in and kisses her, a hard kiss of genuine relief, and tells her sincerely, “I’m so glad you didn’t leave,” which manages to bewilder Letty even more.

Look, I don’t know if or how the show is going to maintain and expand this initial premise going forward, but even if it winds up being Letty and Javier pulling of con jobs and arguing and struggling with each other and with themselves to be better people and what that might mean in the kind of lives they’re leading, I’d totally watch that. Their chemistry alone is compelling, but there’s also the complexity of their characters. We’ve already been given hints that Javier’s murderous business may have a noble patina (though murder for hire is bad! Bad, I say!) and while Letty is an adept thief and grifter (and Meth is bad. Bad, I say!), she often displays an emotional fragility and vulnerability at odds with her history and felonious bent. She wants good things, she wants to do good things, she wants to be a better person, she just has no idea what that means in real life. It’s possible, Javier could help her find out.

The romances–dark or otherwise–that compel me the most as a reader and are at the core of what I want to create as a writer, are ones where the heroine and hero “get” one another like no one else can, and where they love one another not in spite of what may be their worst traits, but almost because of them too. They’re the romances where they ultimately make one another better people (and that being better might have dark tints to it depending on the story) and that intimacy that grows between them enriches who they are and who they can be together. I see those things Letty and Javier in Good Behavior. I can’t wait to see more.

To sum up, here are some quotes from behind the scenes videos on Letty and Javier from their portrayers.

Juan Diego Botto on Javier: When Javier looks at Letty, he sees a beautiful, smart, intelligent, sensitive woman, and he’s absolutely fascinated by her. He’s fallen in love with her. We’re, all the time, fighting. I like you but I hate you. I want to be with you but I want to be alone, I’ve always been alone. That is happening all the time.

Michelle Dockery on Javier and Letty: Him being a hit man is in some ways irrelevant to Letty. She’s not attracted to him because he’s a cold-blooded murderer. It’s not about that, in fact she wants him to stop doing that. It’s more about this connection that they have from the get go that makes him want to be a better person.

Juan Diego Botto on Javier’s role in Letty’s sobriety: He’s very on top of her not to drink, but I think the main role that he plays in her being sober is confidence; I think I make her feel better about herself, and that’s, I think, the bigger role that I play in her recovery.

Good Behavior is on Tuesday night on the TNT channel. Check your local listings. Past episodes are available at TNT.com.

Follow Lady Smut. Dark, light, or in between, we got your romance right here.

Writer, singer, editor, traveler, tequila drinker, and cat herder, Kiersten Hallie Krum avoids pen names since keeping her multiple personalities strait is hard enough work. She writes smart, sharp, and sexy romantic suspense. Her debut romantic suspense novel, Wild on the Rocksis now available. Visit her website at www.kierstenkrum.com and find her regularly over sharing on various social media via @kierstenkrum.

I’ve Got a Plan & It’s Just Not That Complicated

17 Nov

by Madeline Iva

Sometimes you need to retreat, huddle up, hunker down, and regroup.  For introverts like me, this is actually our natural state of being.  The thing is–you gotta have a plan.

I love the part in BOURNE LEGACY, where Jeremy Renner (yum!) needs some information from Rachel Weisz who is sputtering over her suddenly-everyone-wants-to-kill-me reality.  Jeremy Renner cuts through her confusion and says, “Now I’ve got a plan, and it’s just not that complicated.  What I’m going to do is wait for the next person to come and kill you.  Maybe they can help me.”  Well, I’ve got a plan, Lady Smut readers, and it’s just not that complicated.

  1. There’s a romance plot spinning in my brain.
  2. I’m going to binge write all weekend long and get as much of it out of my head and splatted onto the page as I can.

That’s the good kind of binge, of course.

westworld

I’m going to try HBO NOW to watch Westworld. This is their new streaming subscription. (Like Netflix only all HBO.) First month is free…

Then there are the other kinds of binging.  Hey, let’s face it, I’m a binge-y kind of woman.  If a little is good, a lot is better.  My favorite types of binges: TV, movies, food, and romance novels.  But first, I will be productive.  I will lay down five thousand words a day (eek!)  and only then will I reach out to find other forms of comfort.

TV Series to Binge:

  • Westworld
  • The Crown
  • Luke Cage

    Dr. Who? Who knew Matt Smith could play the perfect consort?

    Dr. Who? Who knew Matt Smith could play the perfect consort?

At the movie theatre:

  • DR. STRANGE
  • ARRIVAL
  • FANTASTIC BEASTS
  • MISS PEREGRINE’S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN

    Hey look--it's Jeremy Renner again!

    Hey look–it’s Jeremy Renner again!

Meanwhile, Thanksgiving is next week.  We’re making two pies: cherry and sour-cream apple pie. Well, it’s vegan sour cream apple pie, but it’s still completely awesome.

Along with the usual suspects: garlic green beans with toasted almonds, mashed potatoes, and homemade stuffing, (though my grandmother always called it ‘dressing’) we’re in the midst of deciding what the main dish will be.  You might think as vegans we’d be terribly limited for options.  Not so, my friends.  Here are the candidates:

  • chickpea crepes with cauliflower & shiitake mushroom filling
  • panko crusted sweet potato cakes with mushroom ragout
  • black bean & acorn squash empanadas
  • pumpkin gnocchi
  • three-sisters savory pie–with corn, beans, and pumpkin
Add yummy mushroom sauce and devour! I have it out for T-day dinners that are only shades of tan. Get some color on that plate, people!

Add yummy mushroom sauce and devour! I have a grudge against T-day feasts that are only shades of tan. Get some color on that plate, people!

Finally, I’ve been reading Patrick Rothfuss’s NAME OF THE WIND, (so good!) but I’m almost done.  There’s a whole world of  fantasy goodness by new authors on my kindle just waiting for me to dive on in and check them out.

I ***LOVE*** this cover!

I ***LOVE*** this cover!

And an advanced copy of Cara McKenna’s BRUTAL GAME is in there as well — Think of it as a kind of sexy, contemporary palate cleanser for all the fantasy.

Click to buy

Click to buy–.99 cents!

So that’s the plan.  This afternoon, I’m piling on the sweaters and slippers over the pj’s and sinking into the primordial stew of my creative subconscious.

When I emerge after the holiday, the anxious stew in my brain will be quiet.  I will be ready to be fed–both literally and metaphorically.  At that point, I think I’ll be fit to rejoin the world again.

See you on the other side.

–Madeline

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why Do We Wanna Boink Smart Guys So Badly Anyway?

29 Sep
Smart, lean, uncomfortable, but trying. God, I love a geeky man.

Smart, lean, uncomfortable, but trying. God, I love a geeky man.

by Madeline Iva

People, I have long adored the sexy geek as an iconic romance hero.  Show me a fit, dorky guy with a great smile and glasses — and I’ll show you an obsessive crush.

This week we’re heralding Alexa Day’s re-release ILLICIT IMPULSE and OH! the memories when it first came out.

Waaaaaay back, Alexa and I went mano-y-mano against each other in an unpublished author’s contest with similar science-y erotic romance plots.  My book pitch went down in flames, while Alexa got a publication deal.  Glory with me now in my lost manuscript and Alexa’s triumph.  The two books had similar premises, yet while hers was publishable, mine was soooo wonderfully whack.

Good times! But back to the business at hand:

Why do we wanna boink smart guys so badly anyway?

Buy it, try it, lurv it. Click here.

Buy it, try it, lurv it. Click here.

You see a book you wanna buy (please do). I see 5 reasons below:

Is it just the glasses? I consider the question in F**k my brains out: why are smart guys so sexy?

Is it the Ph.D. maybe?  Yes Professor: Confessions of a Sophophiliac

Is it that he was on the most famous geek TV show EVER?My obsession with the impish, irritable charm of David Tennant

Is it his geek-i-tude obsessions? CRAZY SEXY GHOULISH.

Do we just wanna have smart babies? Or is it because the sexy geek is the antithesis of a male stripper? Talking with Lynne Silver ’bout why we love a good geek.

As for the rest of these links, if you’re a geek–or in love with one–you might want to canvass a few of these other geek-related topics.  Enjoy!

Sexy-Geeky-Goodness: 4 Great Geek Reads.

The whole Sex Bot Thing–seriously, don’t get me and Alexa started.  #WeWantMaleSexBotsNow

Here’s a review of a book about a movie geek who encounters a movie star.

Heck! Who am I kidding? I *am* a movie geek.  What is this movie geek freaking out about? The same thing every other SFF movie geek is freaking out about–the ridiculously hot new Aquaman.

Finally, a little discussion from a while back (God, it seems like we’ve gone full circle since then) about some great interracial romance recommendations, including some awesome geeky paranormal IR: They’re Hot, They’re Naked and They’re Two Different Colors

So follow us at Lady Smut and hug a geek near you–Cheers!

Madeline Ivaimgres writes fantasy and paranormal romance.  Her novella ‘Sexsomnia’ involves a biology geek, and is available in our LadySmut anthology HERE. Her fantasy romance, WICKED APPRENTICE, featuring a magic geek, is available for pre-order Oct 1st and releases November 1st.

Reality TV Done Right with Slow TV

20 Sep
Like being there, but warmer and closer to your kitchen.

Like being there, but warmer and closer to your kitchen.

By Alexa Day

Slow TV has been around for years, apparently, but I heard about it for the first time a couple of weeks ago.

Lunchtime conversation with some learned colleagues turned to what each of us was watching on television. The summer is a tough time for me in this regard. Basically, I’m watching Law & Order reruns until The Walking Dead comes back on. Project Runway returned last week to break things up a little, but that’s a new addition.

I’m trying to keep up with the discussion when one of my colleagues mentions Slow TV. Born in Norway in 2009, Slow TV basically shows an ordinary event in real time. In this instance, “ordinary” includes a train trip from Bergen to Oslo, or people knitting, or a cruise. Slow TV is, I suppose, so named because the subject matter does not aspire to be terribly exciting, and because the shows tend to be long. The train ride to Oslo runs over 7 hours, the length of the trip in real time.

Incredulous, my colleague asked, “Who’s watching that?”

I started watching it on Netflix this past weekend. It’s amazing.

At the outset, I’ve never been to Norway, so the virtual train ride was a bit of tourism for me. I don’t need anything flashy. I love traveling with the locals.

It's a long way to Oslo, friends.

It’s a long way to Oslo, friends.

Slow TV is a bare bones, no frills affair. On the Bergensbanen, the camera is pointed through the front window of the train. You hear people milling around and the conductor’s announcements, and something pops up on screen to show you which station you’re arriving at, but that’s really all there is to it. The track winds ahead of you, through tunnels, past stations and other trains, alongside the highway, with the countryside sliding by. It’s like actually being on the train, which is an absolutely perfect place to write or read or do all those things I would otherwise be doing if I weren’t watching Law & Order for hours at a time.

Remember the buzz about the Amtrak writers’ residency on rails? Well, as of last weekend, I have a writers’ residency on rails right here at my house, with my own bathroom.

Before you sniff at this, consider that Slow TV in one form or another has been around, right here in America for a pretty long time. The Yule Log — the footage of a blazing fireplace with a soundtrack of holiday music (or without, if you want) — has been on American televisions since the 60s. And what is Slow TV, really, but the Cat Sitter videos for humans?

Best of all, the absence of distractions presented by Slow TV is good for the imagination. There will always be times when I need to absorb other stories and check out those weird, quirky little movies and shows that Netflix supplies in such abundance. (Another quick recommendation — the stark, ruthless Charlie Victor Romeo.)

But between the day job and my regularly scheduled programs, my muse needs some space to breathe … and to speak. The muse loves the train as much as he loves the airport. Every stop presents its own possibilities.

And is there anything hotter than quiet time with the muse, with hours and hours of possibilities?

Follow Lady Smut, where things worth doing are worth doing slowly.

Got Body Issues? Try Being NAKED AND AFRAID

1 Sep
How much do they pay these women?

How much do they pay these women?

by Madeline Iva

It’s been around three years, but I only recently discovered NAKED AND AFRAID through an article about ‘The Women of Naked & Afraid’. My first thought was: Women naked and afraid? WTF?

HOW THE SHOW WORKS:

Then I found out that it’s not just a woman who has to strip down and be alone in the hostile wilderness, she also has to have some stranger dude along with her so they can be naked and afraid *together*.

We’re experiencing a whole new world of gender equality—a show in which BOTH men and women get to reveal their butt cracks on national television.

For a moment I thought that being paired with a complete strange naked man was what made the women contestants afraid. But no, it’s not nearly so f***ed up as that. Or…is it?

YEAH, YOUR MOM WAS NAKED BEFORE MILLIONS OF TV VIEWERS

So what type of woman does this?

The women from the show Naked & Afraid were interviewed in People Magazine. Do they get to use tampons? Hell yeah.

“How do your kids feel about you being naked on national television?” One women talked about her tweener son’s response. Let me interpret his comment: “Yeah, mom, you’re gonna do what you’re gonna do and *sigh*, I’m just a kid, I don’t get any say, so–whatever. Can I go now?”

I get the feeling that a fair amount of the women on this show need some fast cash.

Yes, a vegetarian on Naked & Afraid with a very high PSR.

Yes, a vegetarian on Naked & Afraid. Note her very high PSR score.

SURVIVAL SCORES/COMMON GENDER TROPES:  Contestants get an initial Primitive Survival Rating (PSR).  It’s based on what they bring to the situation–like camping experience and a love of skittles. It gets reevaluated at the end–almost always upwards a notch or two.

I’d say about half the women come from the army, police, or are marathoners, hikers, while a few grew up in semi-wilderness places like Alaska.  The ones with the lowest PSRs inevitably state in some chewy twang that they are in it out of pure cussedness.  The people in their lives think they can’t hack it. (Read grandfather, father, or whatever patriarchal sexist male is down on them.) Alas, gran-pappy may have some insight. These women start out full of sass and then crumple almost immediately.  One tapped out after four days because, as she so eloquently put it, “Bugs are crawling up my va-jay-jay.”

And the dudes? Survivalists – not all of them, but a fair heaping.  Hunters, etc.  Men who just don’t feel right if they haven’t killed something lately.  (And these women aren’t afraid? Gah. One guy shows his partner how the snake’s heart still beats after it has been decapitated and flayed.  Another guy talks about eating the bird’s guts–cause that’s where all the nutrients are.  A third guy twists off a bird’s head and then sucks hot blood from the neck.  Then he says “I didn’t know I was going to do that.” Finally, there is the guy who rejoices in smashing rats and talking in little rat voices to their carcasses. Creeeeeeepy!)

The common issue with a lot of these men are that they’re ‘cocky’, or ‘arrogant’ and express some pretty serious hang-ups like “I learned early on that the only one I can depend on is me.” Most of these women wouldn’t have lasted through a blind date with these guys, but they’re willing to be with them naked and hungry for 21 days.  How much are they paying these women?

You couldn't pay me.

You couldn’t pay me.

9 out of 10 of these creepy survivalist guys make it to the end and admittedly, make it fairly easy for his partner to get to the end as well.  These guys are not the spooners in the shelter at night.  But when things get tough, the tough do not like to go it alone.  The more troubles they encounter with their ‘useless’ partner–a flooding river say, or freezing temperatures–the more tightly bonded they seem to be by the end of the show.  In the end, they may be able to kill and eat things all by themselves, but that won’t stop them from breaking down and crying like little babies without a woman there to say “Nut up, dude,” and keep them sane.

Here are some common gendered tropes we see on Naked and Afraid:

–Man hacking at something with the ubiquitous machete –

–Woman lying about looking limpid.  Woman crying.

–Man shouting into the dark to the f***ing wild cat/alligator/boar/unknown beast to stay the f**k away.

–Woman off vomiting—usually because she’s the first to succumb to dehydration.

–Woman covered in blisters from whatever f***ing poisonous thing is about two feet away from their camp.

–Man failing as a hunter (often).

Usually you see a woman having suggestions and the man regarding these ideas as utterly useless. In these situations, the woman often hides her irritation.  Sometimes she’s right, and sometimes she’s wrong, but I’ve yet to see a show where the guy suddenly says “Oh my god! What was I thinking? That’s a brilliant idea!” Or a show where the guy suggests something and the woman says “Yeah, no, that’s dumb. We’re not doing that.”

Not spooning. Not *yet*.

Not spooning. Not *yet*.

HOW THIS SHOW PUTS THE ‘REALITY’ IN REALITY TV:

There are just some things you cannot fake.

It’s not called Naked and Alone.  Many a show includes the call for Medic! Frankly, I’m surprised that no one has died yet.

Meanwhile, the contestants tap out and the voice-over is like: “Can his partner survive sixteen days naked and alone?” She’s not naked and alone–there’s a camera crew following her all day long.

However, I don’t care if four or five people are following me during the day–it’s at the night that the real fun starts.  Howler monkeys are the serial stalkers in the wild–hooting through the long hours of total darkness, promising death, terror, and blood. Yi!

A camera crew somewhere off in the dark isn’t going to prevent that curious hippo from stampeding your shelter and killing the squishy folk inside.  Not only did the hungry hippo visit contestants in the dark, it ate one of the show’s cameras as a midnight snack.  I know, sounds funny, until four tons of hangry is aiming at your frail little dehydrated body.  Then it’s not.

But aside from that—people are naked on TV—ya can’t fake that. It’s so interesting that they added a little jewelry to the experience. Like the contestant is saying: I’m not a naked perv—I’m a hippie! (Though maybe it contains some kind of tracking device?) And how interesting/bizarre that Discovery Channel is doing this.  Do they need a spike in their ratings or what?

ULTIMATELY, WHAT IS THIS SHOW ABOUT? Man vs. Nature? Nah.

The average person will die without food after 21 days–the length of the contestant’s stay in the wilderness.  However, they won’t last a week without water. So, inevitably contestants are placed near water and given a machete–though not always a fire starter.  If you’ve watched Bear Grylls at all, you know the three main things you need to do in the wilderness: STAY WARM, STAY DRY, STAY HYDRATED – This show is not really about that so much. Half the people don’t know what they’re doing.

For instance, because they couldn’t get a fire going, this one guy said “f**k it,” and drank from a waterfall.  The next day, since he seemed okay, his partner drank from the waterfall too.  It’s only then that a voiceover tells us, “Cholera bacteria can take five days to make you ill.” There’s a perverse sense of dark humor at work here.  We’re meant to watch people be idiots and suffer–no doubt about it.

Most contestants seem to understand the need for water, but they often don’t work hard enough on their shelter to stay warm and dry the whole time.  Rain creeps in, the fire goes out, and ruh-roh! without a fire, the animals draw near, mosquitos bombard them, and it’s freezing cold.  All three are an invitation to sleepless nights and misery.

So is this show about Narcissist Nudists vs. America’s Blatant Appetite for Voyeurism? Yes indeed!

Or is it about stupid people? Maybe. Or maybe it’s all about expecting the unexpected–like the guy who brings forth his one survival tool: duct tape.

I don’t think contestants do this show to see if their Primitive Survival Rating improves.  They do it to have done it – or to get bizarre marriage proposals.

SO WHY IS THIS SHOW SO ADDICTIVE? In the same way that watching HOARDERS motivated me to clean my house and be thankful I wasn’t as bad as that guy, this show makes me thankful every day that I don’t have bugs crawling up my va-jay-jay.

Not to mention the extreme gratitude I now have for chairs, houses, clean running water, a fridge, clothing, safety, fruit, all the snacks, air conditioning and ALL THAT OUR PUBIC HAIR DOES FOR US.

Michael is naked and irritated--cause of all the bugs.

Michael is naked and irritated–cause of all the bugs.

Mostly though, this show inspires the would-be survivalist in me.  I want to learn how to make a bow fire, i.e. learn to start fire by rubbing two sticks together.  Like, I’m seriously thinking about going out into my yard and trying it.  I don’t want to eat critters or cover myself in mud, but I’d love to build a raft, or an above ground shelter, and learn some orienteering.

WHAT I’VE LEARNED FROM WATCHING:

  1. HOW BEAUTIFUL THAT ISLAND PARADISE LOOKS: HOW ROTTEN IT IS TO LIVE IN. After watching the show I have a real appreciation for the unappreciated sh** photographers must go through.  It’s not just venomous snakes, scorpions, and alligators everywhere, it’s the various giant beasts who view you as their reality entertainment for the night. But wait–there’s more! The trees and vines, bark and sap can sting you, melt your skin, scar you, cause you hideous rashes and pain.  Add to that the crazy weather swings where the temperature is sweat box hot in the day, but swinging down to below hypothermia levels at night.
  2. THE BUGS ARE REAL. VERY REAL. A lot of the time in Africa you see N & A’s starving contestants standing around instead of sitting. Why are they standing, you ask? Because the ticks will swarm them if they lie down. After watching this show, I feel like the glorious African Savannah is just one tick carpet. This one extremely cute guy named Michael said there was a day time set of bugs to deal with and then a whole other set of bugs came out at night. Ugh, ugh, ugh!

And finally, I learned that out in the wilderness 3. CUTE CRITTERS ARE ALWAYS THE FIRST TO DIE. :<

You may be naked, but don’t be afraid of following us at Lady Smut!

Madeline Ivaimgres writes fantasy, paranormal, and contemporary romance.  Her novella ‘Sexsomnia’ is available in our LadySmut anthology HERE, Her fantasy romance, WICKED APPRENTICE, will be out November, 2016.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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