I'm in love with a Lorber.
And I don't care who knows it!
I love Amanda Lorber, the editor-in-chief of Cypress Bay High School's The Circuit newspaper and, as such, the central character of MTV's superb reality show The Paper. I love her so much in fact, I think she deserves another gif wall.
Amanda is like the Holy Grail of cheeseballs - she's an eternally replenished supply of nuttiness without ever growing mold.
Amanda is the kind of person who, when writing a paper to apply for the editor-in-chief position (or just "In chief" as the
cool Paper kids call it), finds no shame in writing, "There's no baloney about Amanda." What's even more audacious? She's pretty much right. On a channel wherein vapidness is about the most celebrated trait (who can even manage substance with an MTV-dictated short-attention span, anyway?), it is so fucking refreshing to see someone reveling in her own dorkiness.
I mean, she gestures with Easy Mac...
...while saying, "I'm the big cheese! I'm the big cheese!"
She remarks after looking at herself in the mirror...
She has a fucking glamor shot that instead of being buried in her closet, where it would be in the room of a teen with any sense of what's shameful in the world, it's fully displayed for the cameras...
She wonders if she should address the staff she's now in charge of by saying...
She not only picks her clothes out for the week in advance...
...she also articulates exact reasons for wearing what she does: "Thursday says I'm approachable, because I wear T-shirts...just like everyone else."
The end result...
...would often seem straight outta the Quacker Factory if it weren't so singularly tailored to Amanda. Perhaps it is Quacker Couture?
She sings about the paper's layout.
She keeps a wall full of inspirational Post-Its...
(I love that she needs these, too -- such self-administered words of advice reveal cracks in her facade. I wonder what would happen if she didn't remind herself these things. I imagine precise and clever serial killings that would make Patrick Bateman look like a total hack.)
Oh, and here's my favorite Post-It:
This is a method she chooses to employ to bring her staff together because...
Oh and she gets total bonus points for not just sharing the fact that she had a nose-job...
...but for the fact that said nose job is a prime example of tasteful plastic surgery.
Judge Judy better watch her back!
Hopefully you're getting a sense of smiling-through-the-social awkwardness here, especially in the last few examples. Amanda doesn't exactly fit in with most of the other schoolmates of hers that we're introduced to, and that makes her perfect for reality TV. It's not just the human drama that occurs as a result of someone who's so powerful being so disliked.
That's fascinating and all (in this sense, Amanda is more lil' Bush than Lil' Bush). But beyond that, reality TV works for Amanda because it gives us who are a little more mature and removed than her classmates the chance to appreciate her. We can see past her annoying and outrageous habits for the hard-working, gentle-toned good egg that she is. Or we can just appreciate her annoying and outrageous habits wholesale, for those of us who are into that (and I'm talking about myself, of course).
The Paper is breezy, and this world of writing dorks and dissing ice-cream socials for equally dorky Laser Tag really speaks to me. (For some odd reason, the vast majority of my graduating class was touched with wholesomeness: nobody got pregnant, not many people were heavily into drugs, violence wasn't a concern. We were uncommonly innocent as a culture in much the same way Cypress Bay is portrayed). But if you're on board with it the way you're supposed to be as a straightforward fan (i.e. endeared to Amanda), it can be a devastating viewing experience. Just three episodes in, I haven't watched someone pick themselves up so often from open, public humiliation since The Comeback. I know that's a common point of reference of mine, but for all of her absurd resilience, Amanda is a pint-sized version of Valerie Cherish.
That's her talking to a group of kids at a restaurant who are openly mocking her.
(That's her shutting her phone, post-mocking. I think the graphing calculator counts as a visual wedgie.)
That's her after fellow paper staffer, Giana, just pretended that she didn't know that Amanda was just named editor-in-chief.
That's her after the tall, blurry girl just passed her by to embrace the pasty, alien-esque girl.
In the background of this shot, Giana and another staffer Dan are talking about her, unbeknownst to her.
In this shot, Trevor's talking about her and it is, in the words of Celebrity Rehab's Jeff Conway, beknownst to her.
In this shot, Amanda poorly tries to play off a jab at her choice to identify herself as "Liberal Lorber." The name isn't nearly as stupid as how she clearly feels.
And this is what it looks like when virtually everyone else is invited to a party and you're not:
It's not that you can't see where her classmates are coming from -- Amanda is something of a know-it-all who seems to be stuck in her ways before even hitting 20 (for example, she ridicules Giana for being less than anal retentive about her wardrobe and she scoffs expanding sports coverage). But I love that the show blurs the line between honest victim and glutton for punishment. I love that Amanda's vulnerability is as adorable as her resolve to fight it. I love that over the course of three half-hour blocks, this kid has exhibited more depth than Heidi Montag has in, what? Thirty episodes of The Hills? Amanda has more personality in the portion of her nose that was removed than Tila Tequila could ever dream of possessing in her entire body (which, to be fair, is only 4'11"). I've said it before, but I think it deserves a repeat: for some bizarre reason, people over 20 who make it on MTV are more or less crass and so abhorrent, they're hard to take on even a cathartic, I'm-not-that-gross-so-I-feel-great level. For people under 20, it's the exact opposite: MTV has such a knack for portraying the lives of teens as richly and complexly as they've ever been portrayed in any medium, including literature.
And it's not just Amanda, too -- the assemblage of talent is first-rate. There's Adam, who's cute and flamboyant.
I'll refrain from dissecting him more because a) I'm sure he's already heard a lot of that, and in horrifyingly derogatory ways, and b) what could I possibly say that that picture doesn't already?
There's Giana who wittily blogs about Dave Matthews Band fans and who has an inadvertent gift for distilling the awkward self-consciousness of teenagers down to just a few sentences:
Right before the paper positions were announced (when Amanda was named editor-in-chief, to the disappointment of everyone but Amanda), Giana explained, "Trevor's gonna text-message me, because I didn't want everyone looking at my reaction and then having to look at everybody else's reaction." Thank god the camera is just a one-way medium, you know?
Dan is douchey...
...perhaps intentionally so. I don't know if his shtick is to be halfway clever or just unique in its hostility. When he suggested bringing an ailing Amanda "cream of bitch," I laughed, but I'm not sure if it was at or with him. Perhaps this is his genius.
Of course, whenever dissecting reality TV, the question of realness should arise. By and large, I buy The Paper. I buy that Amanda is queer enough that she'd be talking to her adorable dog, Gabby, even if there were no cameras around.
There are moments that seem particularly set up, like when Dan and managing editor Alex discuss a story idea in the stands of a football game.
Like, how did the sounds of a crowd not drown them out entirely? Could the spectators of Cypress Bay be that well-behaved? Who knows, and ultimately: who cares? Endlessly layered, The Paper feels about as kinda-sorta real as anything on TV. It's impromptu but it also feels sometimes staged. It's raw but it doesn't show bruises. It's harsh but it's not cruel. I can't think of a better medium to portray the all-too-real-but-still-not-quite-real world of high school than that of pseudo-reality television. The Paper is, in every way, a perfect fit.