content by

Randee Dawn

Five SFF Takes on Reality TV

Reality TV is a horror show. Except when it’s hilarious. Few genres can walk that fine line between sublimely terrifying and divinely ridiculous, which makes reality TV a particularly special kind of programming. It’s no surprise that Squid Game, last year’s must-watch series and this year’s Emmy Award darling, became such a big hit with the idea of a reality TV show aired to a tiny, elite audience that paired children’s games (and glorious sets that reminded us of the playground or nursery) with bloodshed. Now Netflix (which aired the series) is even creating an actual Squid Game: The Challenge reality competition series. No bloodshed, of course, but 456 contestants will be able to scramble for $4.56 million, the biggest cash prize a competition show has ever offered.

When reality TV goes to the movies, however, there tends to be approximately 90 percent less fun and games and 100 percent more totalitarianism. Here are five instances of reality TV reimagined for the big screen, and there’s a commonality to nearly all of these movies: The shows live in lurid colors (often crimson) and their ubiquity is trumpeted in exclamation points: They’re the Most Watched TV Shows Ever!!! in their dystopian near futures… a phrase that implicates all of us in the audience along with the warped minds who came up with the concepts in the first place.

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Six Odd, Unusual, and Unconventional Dragons

Dragons are cool. Giant scaly (or feathered) winged beasties, hovering in the skies or lurking in deep, dark caverns. Some are bearers of luck, some wreak havoc with a belly filled with fire. And many seem to be really into sitting around on a giant gold pile (though why is murky—are they hoping to bring back the gold standard?). So, yeah, dragons in fantasy literature are the coolest creatures out there (yes, I know, they can also be extremely hot), and their presence lends a grandeur and majesty to any story. Depending on the story, they may be metaphor for the human condition, they may be aliens we live among, or they may be an existential threat unlike any you’ve ever encountered before.

…Except that not all dragons are like that. In fact, some of the most memorable creatures in fiction stick with us because they are the exact opposite of all of those things we’ve come to expect. So I’ve dug into the hoard—shh, don’t tell them!—and come up with some real gems from across fantasy literature…here are my favorite offbeat, eccentric, and reluctant dragons of unusual ability (and sometimes size).

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Lost Cities, Demonic Possession, and Talking Dolls: The Fantastical Story Arcs of Soap Opera

You watch soap operas.

C’mon, you know you do.

Even if you don’t regularly tune into the four remaining daytime ones still in existence—Days of Our Lives, The Young and the Restless, The Bold and the Beautiful, or General Hospital—you still watch soap operas. Why? Because you are a genre fan. You love your grand, sweeping, dramatic, romantic, world-shaking science fiction or fantasy or horror films. You nitpick over who did what to whom and when and on what alternative timeline and who came back from the dead on shows like Game of Thrones or Star Trek. Or movie franchises like Star Wars or Harry Potter or Twilight or anything in the Marvel Comics or DC Comics universe. These entertainments bend their story to the breaking point and twist their plots it into pretzel logic…and we love it.

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