The Game of Love
By Elena Lane
Date: February 11, 2021
Ch. 33

Gigi sat in the lounge, reading a book, trying to relax after a long first day. Sure, there had been no real competition yet. After all, they had only really made introductions, but nothing was simple in the world of reality TV. Just those introductions had been jam-packed with drama in attempt to stir the pot before there was even anything cooking. Gigi had known what she was getting into when she signed up for the show, but that didn’t make it any less tiring. Gigi was exhausted and all she wanted was a little peace and quiet.

The cameras were still on. They were always on, positioned to catch any drama among contestants at any moment. Reality TV couldn’t avoid to miss a thing it seemed. Though, Gigi didn’t that her reading a book was quite what the producers were looking for. They preferred catfights or someone having a medical crisis and having to go to the hospital. Anything that could peak viewers’ interests made the producers giddy, even if it was at the expense of the contestants. Fifteen seasons was a long time for a show to be on TV. So, they had to keep things fresh and fun or else the show would lose viewers and obviously viewers were crucial for any show. The last few seasons, though once the most popular show on TV, America’s Most Popular had become, well, less popular. Rating were falling steadily and it was getting to the point where producers were desperately trying to revive the dying show. So, drama and inter cast conflict was crucial. Without these things, cancellation loomed.

Gigi had expected drama. She had actually kind of looked forward to it. Of course, she didn’t want to be a part of it, but watching other contestants feud and fight pettily could serve as entertainment. Seeing behind the curtain made things more fun. Contestants could be fighting for the camera in one moment, but sharing drinks the next moment. So much of reality TV was manipulated. Though, that is not to say that it’s all fake. No, much of it is at least kind of real. However, the producers poke at the contestant and provoke them to respond drastically. Gigi found the whole thing interesting. People had personas on TV that they didn’t normally have. There was Kenzie who acted like a diva, but there were others who took on personas as well. Like Vince.

With Vince, it was subtle. His persona wasn’t unlike his own personality. However, on TV, Vince became a hyperbolized version of himself. His charming characteristics were exaggerated while his other qualities were hidden. Much of this was true for all of the contestants on the show. Reality TV was just a caricature of reality. It emphasized certain parts of a person that were most prominent and made them bigger than reality, but neglected to pay proper attention to the things hidden deeper within a person. Reality TV wasn’t fake, but it sure did leave a lot of stuff out. Gigi pondered this. She figured that lies of omission were still lies. If she wanted to win, Gigi would have to play the system to her advantage. She didn’t know how she would do this, but Gigi was penniless and she wasn’t going to let that money slip from her fingers. No, she was going to win America’s hearts and she wouldn’t need luck. Gigi just needed to make smart decisions. Reality TV was just a game and if she knew the rules, winning would be easy.

It was the night before Gigi’s first challenge. Naturally, Gigi was nervous. She really didn’t know what she would have to do. Of course, Gigi had an idea of the challenges they did from previous seasons, but the producers were always adding twists to make things more intense. Therefore, Gigi was sure that whatever the challenge was that it wouldn’t be easy. Gigi was excited, not necessarily in a good way, and couldn’t fall asleep. So, she went to the kitchen to get a cup of tea. Gigi wasn’t a big tea fan, but in the past, it had helped her calm down enough to fall asleep. Since she was desperate, Gigi was willing to try about anything. After all, she needed her sleep if she didn’t want to look like a raccoon-ish zombie on national television.

Gigi was sipping her tea when she heard footsteps padding down the hallway. Gigi wasn’t a lone night creeper, it seemed. A few moments later a man appeared in the kitchen. He was another contestant, Gigi knew that, but she wasn’t sure of his name. It seems funny that she didn’t know his name. How could she not know the name of someone who she was living with? Well, it had only been a few days and twenty-five roommates weren’t easy to remember. Plus, Gigi had never been particularly good with names. There were still people who Gigi simply didn’t know, but with time, she would learn and of course, as people were eliminated, things would get easier. The longer Gigi stayed in the game, the less names there would be to remember.

The guy was young, about Gigi’s age and cute in the dorky kind of way. She remembered that he had said that he was a musician, but couldn’t remember much else about him. Gigi cleared her throat. “I guess you can’t sleep either.”

He gave Gigi a little smile. “I’ve always been a bit of an insomniac.”

“Yeah, me too. I just can’t get my brain to settle down. All this excitement is keeping me up.”

“I know how you feel.” The guy mused.

“Why don’t you sit down with me. Have a cup of tea. Then, maybe we both can get a little sleep.”

He shrugged, “I guess it couldn’t hurt.” Then, he gave Gigi a thoughtful look. “Your name is Gigi, isn’t it?” He asked, hoping that he didn’t get it wrong. Gigi felt a little bad. He knew who she was, but she had no inkling as to what his name was.

“Yeah,” Gigi said in a tone that was much too cheery for 2 AM. “That’s me!”

“I’m Rowan.” The guy added to Gigi’s relief.

“Nice to meet you Rowan.” Then Gigi quickly added. “Well, meet you again, that is.”

Rowan chuckled, “Yeah, I know what you mean. Briefly saying ‘Hi’ at a get together doesn’t exactly count as a meeting.”

Gigi giggled, “No I guess that it doesn’t.” Gigi sat there sipping her tea, chatting with Rowan. She didn’t know him, but she was hoping that over the next few weeks that they could become friends or maybe even something more.

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