by Julia Argy
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Pub Date 18 Apr 2023 | Archive Date 25 Apr 2023
PENGUIN GROUP Putnam, G.P. Putnam's Sons
Emily didn’t join the cast of The One for fame or for a relationship. She simply didn’t have anything better to do. Newly fired from her dead-end job, it doesn’t take much convincing when she’s recruited as a last-minute contestant for the popular reality dating show. Emily has been performing her entire life—for her family and friends, former boyfriends, and coworkers. How different could it be playing herself in front of cameras?
But the moment Emily arrives, it becomes clear she’s been tapped to win it all. Emily’s producer Miranda sees her as the golden ticket: generically pretty, affable, and easily molded—all the qualities of a future Wife. Emily herself is less certain. It’s easy enough to fall in love under romantic lighting and perfectly crafted dates, but it’s harder to remember what’s real and what’s designed. And as Emily’s fascination with another contestant grows, both Emily and Miranda are forced to decide what it is they really want—and what they are willing to do to get it.
A brilliant send-up of our cultural mythology around romance, The One examines the reality of love and desire set against a world of ultimate artifice and manipulation.
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 222 members
I had to sit on this one for awhile before I could write a review because it was just SO layered. Somehow just as satisfying as a light romance novel but as deep and challenging as my favorite literary fiction novels, The One manages to tackle so many topics in a concise package.
I have difficulty believing that Julia Argy has not been a contestant on the Bachelor, as her descriptions and insights of the show are insanely detailed and truly spot on. I'm a fan of the show, but this book will have me watching it in a different light from now on. The One explores the idea of performance, how we perform ourselves for each other, and how we perform love as an expectation, with the heightened reality of the fact that these characters are performing for cameras. Performance is inherently an interactive activity, and it was fascinating to see these "performers" attempting to interact with an audience that didn't exist yet, as they tried to fit themselves into familiar love story narratives and character archetypes, and do things that will earn them more screen time, and therefor more favor with the audience.
I'm going to keep thinking about this book for awhile. Make sure you add this to your 2023 reading list, you won't regret it.
How can a person find the one if she doesn't even know herself? Yes, I understand the dark side of reality tv that this book exposed in terms of physical deprivation and emotional falsehood; however, I do think some women (i.e. Winna) thought they were falling in love. A poignant term was that in physics, simply by observing one cam change its behavior. In all these women observing each other and their perception of what they thought Dylan liked, they changed themselves. I was so glad that Emily finally realized whom she wanted and was no longer apologetic for it. You can only hide yourself for so long. The ending if her driving to NC was pivotal.
Thank you to #NetGalley for letting me read an advance copy in exchange for an honest review. As a reality TV fan, I was excited to read the story of Emily, who is recruited as a contestant on The One, a Bachelor-style show after being fired from her administrative assistant job. The book follows her through taping as she vies to win the heart of Dylan, a runner-up on a previous Bachelorette-style season. She’s there on a whim, in search of her own purpose as much as love. The perspective shifts between Emily’s and that of Miranda, the casting assistant who recruited her and is assigned to her throughout production. I liked the nuances with with Julia Argy imbues both the contestants and the crew, and the book was both entertaining and sharp and incisive on topics like sexuality, gender roles and artifice. It reminds me of “Unreal” meets Nora Ephron, in the best way, with social commentary on the role women play both in front of and behind the camera.
The One is about a popular style of reality tv show these days--the "bachelor" or "bachelorette" who must hang out with a bunch of strangers for a set period of time and choose a "soul mate" among them to marry.
I've never been a fan of this type of show, however, I am a fan of the behind the scenes humans who put them together and appear in them.. The machinations and emotions that drive the people who put on these shows as they attempt to garner high ratings run deep and The One is an excellent, well written book depicting both producers and contestants alike.
The growth and story arc of the main character, Emily, is especially charming and realistic. She's pretty, thin, and eager to please--exactly the way she was raised to be.. But her life is boring and she's struggling to find a place for herself in the world when a producer (Miranda) swoops in and signs her up to be a contestant. The way she views her qualities through the lens of the dude who's supposed to find his wife on the show is familiar for most any female. Which makes her ultimate realization about herself and her discovery and acceptance of it extremely satisfying.
Miranda the producer also measures her value against the men in her life--not her husband, but the male producers who surround her. The fact that she sensed something about Emily from the start and set the whole thing up to end exactly the way that it did was a bit of a stretch for me but it made for a satisfying ending. I do hope that Miranda goes a little easier on herself for the next go round of The One!
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