Bibliophile | Author and academic Jodi McAlister is ‘Not Here To Make Friends’

Not Here to Make Friends
by Jodi McAllister
Simon & Schuster

Jodi McAllister is currently a Senior Lecturer in Writing, Literature and Culture at Deakin University in Melbourne. Her academic work focuses on the history of love, sex, women and girls, popular culture and fiction. This means that reading romance novels and watching The Bachelor is technically work for her.

In her latest book, Murray O’Connell and Lily Ong were co-producers of season 10 of the reality television show Marry Me Juliet. Romeo Brett was about to ride off into the sunset with the love of his life – but apparently he chose the ‘wrong’ woman and audiences are not pleased.

Now the pressure is on for the network’s season 11 to produce a happy ending. It is also the season that the usually conservative station had allowed some diversity to creep in.

Murray is the sole producer but Lily turns up as one of the contestants – Lily Fireball. The only way to guarantee a fairy tale ending was to “write it in advance” and force narrative possibilities, rig dates and edit selective footage to make everything fit.

Meanwhile, Lily Fireball is terrorizing the assortment of other Juliets because she wants to become the villain people will talk about for years. But you don’t “do something so big, so dramatic, so incredibly public and irreversibly life-altering without a really good reason.”

Also, manipulating what happens to add spice and keep audiences interested doesn’t always run according to plan. For example, organising a threesome date to get the two women to compete for Romeo’s attention could end up with them being more interested in each other.

Sometimes all the pulling of strings to make things happen is ineffective when the television crew does not have all the information and the contestants actually want some control over their stories.

Lezly Herbert


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