I am, what sociologists of culture call, a cultural omnivore. I consume high and low art whether it be books, TV, movies, music, etc. Sometimes my DVR looks like a teenage girl (Pretty Little Liars, Teen Mom) and other times a middle-aged woman (Real Housewives, The Sisterhood). I love reading serious non-fiction as much as I love a good mystery series. And, let's face it, I love analyzing pop culture phenomenons. So for so many different reasons, Andy Cohen and all associated with him is right up my alley. His talk show, Watch What Happens Live (WWHL), obviously has a series pass. So last week when I went to a book event for him (The Andy Cohen Diaries: A Deep Look at a Shallow Year) I wondered what I would say to him.
Here's what went down, "I am probably going to teach a class on reality TV at Brown University and I will likely assign parts of your books [including his Most Talkative: Stories from the Frontlines of Pop Culture here]."
Me: I am way cooler than Camille Paglia.
Andy: But I love Camille Paglia! But you might be cooler.
Wait, did I say "way cooler?!" I'm pretty sure that automatically nullifies the statement.
You were supposed to stand across the table from Andy while getting your book signed and to get a photo, but I said to him, "I'm postpartum and need to hide my body." He kindly let me stand like this. Andy Cohen clearly understands the importance of a good angle.
The JCC photo backdrop is poifect here. Evelyn Cohen would approve, I think.
While I won't be doing the reality TV course next academic year (instead doing classes on beauty pageants and sports), I do think it will happen soon. So, who knows people, I might be a guest on WWHL yet. If Camille Paglia can do it...
In any case, the event itself was only meh. It was the fastest event to ever sell out at the Newton JCC. The 300+ audience was full of fans who wanted to see and hear Andy for a bit, and then be sure they got their Instagram images and book swag. Instead, we sat through an awkward interview for 40 minutes that Andy had to cut off himself. Given that most people in the audience had at least one advanced degree, I expected better questions than, "Will you ever do a Real Housewives of Boston?!" [If you really know your Bravo stuff you know they won't be adding any other cities, which is why we got shows like "Ladies of London"] I cringed when a girl asked how she could "be" Andy Cohen, given she is a Communications major at Boston University, same as Andy. Boston, we could have done better!
Here are some of the more serious questions I would have asked Andy, especially based on The Andy Cohen Diaries:
1) You are very good friends with Anderson Cooper (aka "Coops"). As someone who is outspoken (pun intended) about being out, how do you feel about the fact he waited so long to publicly come out? Did you have conversations about this with him?
2) What does it mean that you encourage people to watch TV, but have also written two books. Do you think the two are mutually exclusive (like doing one activity takes away from the other)? Which do you actually prioritize? [I was pleasantly surprised in the Diaries that he writes about what he reads and has a sophisticated reading shelf.]
3) Do you see the written word, like Twitter and Instagram posts, as substitutable for reading books? I noticed you walked out with two phones, but no book? Do you care if people read the print or electronic versions of your books?
4) You write about, and spoke about, your ex-boyfriend in a very laudatory way. Care to spill the tea on why the relationship didn't work out?
I loved the moments in the book when he did go deeper, like talking about the rise of "docu-series," etc. I know Andy is smart and quick and I challenge him to say more beyond just creating 15 minutes of fame for a bunch of women with (his words) too much filler.
Hopefully at some point we can continue the conversation. In the meantime, I need to catch up on Bravo's new scripted show, Girlfriends' Guide to Divorce.