So much content!

Why not enjoy some more, as a treat?

Like seemingly everyone else over the last month, I fell into the trap of Love is Blind. Is there a German word “wow what a trainwreck, don’t start the next episode yet, I need more snacks?”

I’m not gonna explain the premise of the show, you’re smart humans who have read up about it, surely. But I’ll indulge: A bunch of strangers sit in “pods” and discuss themselves to establish potential love matches, sight unseen. The hope is that in four weeks, they’ll all couple off/get married. Antics ensue. The commentary surrounding the show, though, has been as entertaining as the original, IMHO. (So much content these days! Too much?!)

My favorite take came from Aminatou Sow, co-host of the Call Your Girlfriend podcast. Besides calling Love is Blind “the halal Love Island,” Aminatou pinpointed what makes LiB so entertaining: The men are compellingly candid with their women counterparts, spilling their secrets and sharing of themselves like they’ve never opened up to anyone in their lives. (Por que no los dos?) It’s, frankly, stunning to watch, and calls to mind this old Harper’s Bazaar essay from last year about how society creates emotionally-bereft men. (Read it! It’s really fascinating.) As Aminatou so astutely points out, “doing feelings is real drugs!”

The other compelling thing is, in certain episodes, is the reality TV-necessitated “secrets are revealed” plot development. “What is the point of fully being yourself,” asks Aminatou, “if you don’t ask the scariest things you can ask someone, [especially] if you’re not gonna see them again?” Call me old-fashioned, but if I’ve got four weeks to decide to marry someone, I’m going in there with a therapist-approved list of my flaws and foibles, with ready-to-go emotional Mad Libs for that other person to do the same. I’m sure there’s ton on the cutting room floor, but why the hell are you going in there asking about a person’s favorite snacks?! I need to know how they hope to see themselves as a parent, if heart disease runs in the family, and if they wear their shoes indoors. Pffft, amateurs.

(Housekeeping notes: I moved this newsletter over from TinyLetter to Substack. Also, I’m experimenting with the optimal times to send out this thing. Wednesday afternoons? Fridays? Sunday mornings? Let me know what you think or prefer! When do you like reading newsletters? 👀

In other news: I’m the new research director at Bon Appetit, but will continue working on stories for other outlets. Have interesting stories or ideas you think would pique my interest? Want to work together? Drop me a line! jhernandez312@gmail.com)

Link Love:

[1] “What if we invited artists into the newsroom to get their perspective on what we do?” One of my journalism role-models, Tom Huang of The Dallas Morning News, invited some playwrights to embed with the newsroom, to get a sense of journalism right at the source. The result: A two-act play that explores the importance of community journalism in a harried age.

[2] “Over the years, candidates’ attempts to reach people of color have gifted us with a long and hilarious highlight reel of cultural gaffes, starting with Gerald Ford biting into a tamale — still wrapped in its husk — during his unsuccessful 1976 presidential run.” Sure, presidential candidates are dropping like flies, but this column by Frank Shyong of the LA Times is still a brilliant sideways look at the phenomenon. I personally always wondered “who changes their vote because Politician X ate a taco?” Says one person Frank interviewed: “You don’t have to eat our food. I’ll eat my own food. Just listen to us… give us a genuine feeling that you hear what we have to say.” A sermon!!

[3] Speaking of genuine feelings: “Goodness is an act of being and doing, requiring that we not only engage but reflect on the intentions behind our actions.” I’ve been meditating a lot lately — even attending a Buddhist service to learn how to sit and connect with my breath; I was messy, y’all — but the lessons in this NYT offers some great non-denominational advice for anyone looking for answers from new places.

[4] Have I mentioned how much I love LeVar Burton Reads? Yes, that LeVar Burton, of Reading Rainbow fame. If you’re into short stories or need new #content, check it out. Last week’s episode — “End Game,” by Nancy Kress — read like a Black Mirror plot in the best way, exploring a very 21st-century problem (anxiety and monkey mind) and the dangers of trying to overcorrect our perceived “issues.” I listened to it on the elliptical and walked away shewk.

[5] Lifehack: Cook food at home!

[6] Didja know? Writing is a scam.

[7] *Steps on soapbox* If you consider yourself an ally or aspire to "wokeness," then I ask that you read this article on how damaging it is for people of color to constantly explain racism to other people. Your POC family, friends and colleagues are as tired of talking to you about race as you are of being slightly uncomfy at the possibility that you, too, may be racist. And if you have questions you’re too afraid to ask, I am happy to field your queries. I will be direct, honest, and reserve the right to charge a consultation fee, dependent on the nature of your ask and amount of labor.

[8] The Dixie Chicks are bacccckkkkkkkk!