Reality TV Shows About Famous Authors We'd Love to See


Are you more interested in the Brontës than the Kardashians? Does your heart embrace only one Millionaire Matchmaker — Becky Sharp? (Okay, two. Undine Spragg, for name alone.) We lit geeks at Flavorwire see the canned drama of the Basketball Wives, and pooh-pooh. We’d rather tune out, turn off, and reminisce about Faulkner’s drunken Pulitzer Prize speech, or the time Hemingway and Wallace Stevens got into a fistfight. Now, there’s drama we want to DVR! After all, why do reality TV stars enthrall the American public? Our guess is their affluence, good looks, and constant conflict. Well, you know what we say to that? Edith Wharton, Lord Byron, F. Scott Fitzgerald. Literary history roils with glamor, wealth, and — above all — enormous egos. It’s the perfect stuff of entertainment (and art, apparently). So which writers would be on your dream TiVo? Check out our own fantasy list after the jump!

Scott Loves Zelda

Announcer: “Next week, see Zelda start some DRAMA when Scott ignores her at their anniversary party!”

Video: Zelda Fitzgerald throws herself down a flight of stairs, while Scott stands below, talking to a group of friends.

Series highlights: Zelda pulls a Black Swan, frantically doing pliés while her mind deteriorates. Zelda and F. Scott have a major fight when he plagiarizes her diary for This Side of Paradise. The epic, heart-breaking series finale covers Zelda’s death while locked in a burning mental hospital. The actual footage is omitted. The crew survived.

Charm School with Truman Capote

Announcer: “Can Truman Capote make SILK PURSES out of these SOW’S EARS?”

Video: Several teens sit at a fancy dining table. One burps loudly and unapologetically. Another curses so much almost all of her dialogue is bleeped. Wearing an impeccable Tom Ford suit, Capote watches them, shaking his head with dismay.

Season highlights: Capote has a rap battle with several of his students. He’s surprisingly good.

Dandy Eye for the Bro Guy

Announcer: “See Baudelaire LOSE HIS MIND when a client ignores his advice!”

Video: Baudelaire takes one look at his client’s outfit, and storms off set, shouting expletives. The man in question wears cargo shorts, a ratty t-shirt, and socks with flip-flops.

Season highlights: Baudelaire and Kanye West meet-cute while reaching for the same fashion cane. Baudelaire starts an internet beef with Rachel Zoe.

Edgar Allan Poe Goes to College

Announcer: “Watch this famous COLLEGE DROPOUT try to fit in at TEXAS UNIVERSITY.”

Video: Poe enters an Austin coffee shop. A girl looks at him, and loudly says, “God. I am so sick of hipster mustaches.” Poe looks wounded and confused.

Series highlights: Poe goes to SXSW, and discovers his love for Black Heart Procession. He wins a beer pong tournament at a fraternity. Poe graduates with honors, despite doing all his classwork at the local bar.

Keeping Up With the Whartons

Announcer: “This season, FAMILY RULES as Edith returns to her parents’ New York brownstone, but can she SURVIVE when her EX, Teddy, suddenly returns?”

Video: Teddy drunkenly enters Edith’s private box at the opera. She picks up her opera glasses and demurely ignores him.

Season highlights: Edith finds out that the phrase “Keeping up with the Jonses,” coined about her father’s family, has been replaced with “Keeping up with the Kardashians.” She makes a lot of snide comments about the nouveau riche. When Edith hosts an exclusive dinner party, the Kardashians are snubbed. There is significant show-to-show crossover.

I’m Ernest Hemingway… Get Me Out of Here!

Announcer: “Tune in to this year’s HOTTEST show (insert clip of a desert) and see if Ernest Hemingway is man enough to outlive the tropics!”

Video: Hemingway runs frantically from a wild boar.

Series highlights: Gaunt and sunburnt, Hemingway searches the island for a hidden “Moveable Feast.” Hemingway accidentally eats a psychotropic plant, and thinks he’s on assignment for The Kansas City Star. The hilarious season finale rewards Hemingway with a trip to Brasserie Lipp; he cries at the sight of steak tartare. freaks out.

A Shot at Love with Jane Austen

Announcer: “Come back next week for more HEARTBREAK as SHOCKING TRUTHS are revealed!”

Video: Jane’s favorite suitor admits his engagement to another woman. Jane runs out of the room, sobbing.

Season highlights: Jane recovers from her heartbreak with the help of her sister and best friend, Cassandra. Jane bonds with a real estate agent. They fall in love as he escorts her across his vast acres of land.

The Simple Life with Lord Byron

Announcer: “This season, see Lord Byron give up his life of EXCESS for one of ACCESS — to the SIMPLE LIFE.”

Video: Lord Byron rides on the back of a garbage truck. He serves fast food. Farmhands wake Lord Byron, asleep in the barn. They laugh at the curling papers in his hair.

Season highlights: Lord Byron tries to seduce a local Arkansas hottie. She assumes he’s a “disco-dancing, Oscar Wilde-reading, Streisand ticket-holding friend of Dorothy, know what I’m saying?” and rejects him. Lord Byron then sleeps with her brother. Their parents kick him off their farm.

The Real Housewives of Ex-Pat Paris

Announcer: “Who starts THROWING STONES when Alice shows up to a concert (insert video of pot leaves, psychedelic music) STONED?”

Video: Alice B. Toklas’ loud snoring overshadows Cole Porter’s music. Spectators glare at her. Embarrassed, Gertrude Stein nudges Alice awake. Immediately, Alice asks where to get food — loudly. Audience members shush her. Cole looks livid.

Season highlights: Picasso shows his Portrait of Gertrude Stein at the Met in New York. An art critic comments that Gertrude doesn’t resemble the painting. Picasso replies, “She will.” Alice laughs. Gertrude gives them both the cold shoulder, and Alice sleeps on the couch that night.

Growing up Brontë

Announcer: “Tune in this season as DISASTER STRIKES. Can the remaining Brontës COPE with the LOSS?”

Video: Charlotte cries while Emily comforts her. Anne stands forgotten in the background.

Series highlights: Charlotte makes advances on her married ex-headmaster, Constantin Héger. Their brother, Branwell, seduces the wife of Anne’s boss. Anne confronts Branwell, but the illicit love continues. Anne is eventually forced to quit.