Captive Audience
An intimate portrait of a marriage intertwined with a meditation on reality TV that reveals surprising connections and the meaning of an authentic life.In Lucas Mann's trademark vein--fiercely intelligent, self-deprecating, brilliantly observed, idiosyncratic, personal, funny, and infuriating--Captive Audience is an appreciation of reality television wrapped inside a love letter to his wife, with whom he shares the guilty pleasure of watching "real" people bare their souls in search of celebrity. Captive Audience resides at the intersection of popular culture with the personal; the exhibitionist impulse, with the schadenfreude of the vicarious, and in confronting some of our most suspect impulses achieves a heightened sense of what it means to live an authentic life and what it means to love a person.“Over and over again, while reading Captive Audience, I was struck by Lucas Mann’s refusal to be satisfied by the insights that might satisfy another writer. Instead, he questions each of these insights: digs under it, complicates it, wonders why he felt inspired to utter it, wonders if its opposite might be just as true. The idea of epiphany makes him restless, but this restlessness is a gift to the rest of us. And running like a passionate ribbon through all of his ferocious questioning—about authenticity, presence, self-awareness and self-possession—is an unapologetic love story, full of the daily performances and unexpected grace of reality itself.” —Leslie Jamison, author of The Empathy Exams“I was initially drawn to Captive Audience’s smashing critical analysis and savvy pop culture apologies, but what I ended up cherishing most of all is this book’s vivid portraiture. Mann has written a soulful recounting of not just a decade of watching reality TV as it has evolved past entertainment into something more complex, public, and even sinister, but a story of doing so alongside another person—a beloved life partner, nonetheless, with whom his shared reality also evolves and deepens. Who could have imagined that one of the most evocative love stories I’ve read in ages would be mixed into heady investigations of Joe Millionaire, COPS, and Vanderpump Rules?” —Elena Passarello, author of Animals Strike Curious Poses“This is book is about what it means to see and be seen. And more: it is about what it means to see and be seen in love. Lucas Mann always writes openly, even ecstatically, at the boundaries of the essay form. Captive Audience offers the pleasure of reading all these things: memoir, lucid cultural analysis, TV Guide, journalism, and, most of all, glorious love letters hurting with shared joys and naked vulnerability.” —Amitava Kumar, author of Immigrant, Montana“There is no cultural critic in America like Lucas Mann. Perhaps that’s because he turns on the television and sees what you don’t—in the vulgar and striving world of reality television, he finds beauty and heart in the ambition that drove these over-tanned and underfed people to perform for us—and that brought us in to watch. Mann’s voice is filled with empathy, irony, and a tenderness that will make you laugh and then ache, sometimes within the span of a single, perfectly constructed sentence. Captive Audience is the definitive book on the aging but perennially renewed genre of reality TV, and there isn’t an author alive who could have written it better.” —Kristen Radtke, author of Imagine Only Wanting This

Captive Audience Details

TitleCaptive Audience
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseMay 1st, 2018
PublisherVintage
ISBN-139780525435549
Rating
GenreAutobiography, Memoir, Nonfiction

Captive Audience Review

  • Ariel
    January 1, 1970
    My favorite memoirs are the ones that push beyond the boundaries of the author's personal relationships or circumstances to engage with the cultural/political/historical phenomena that create context for the author's particular life. And my favorite cultural critics--Maggie Nelson, Hilton Als, John Berger, etc--are unafraid to engage personal feeling, memory and experience alongside the intellect. Lucas Mann accomplishes both powerfully in Captive Audience, a hybrid love letter to his wife and e My favorite memoirs are the ones that push beyond the boundaries of the author's personal relationships or circumstances to engage with the cultural/political/historical phenomena that create context for the author's particular life. And my favorite cultural critics--Maggie Nelson, Hilton Als, John Berger, etc--are unafraid to engage personal feeling, memory and experience alongside the intellect. Lucas Mann accomplishes both powerfully in Captive Audience, a hybrid love letter to his wife and exploration of the curiously transfixing contemporary art genre of reality TV. What is reality, really? What is love and how does it change over time? What does it mean to watch, or be watched? Mann interrogates these stoner-type questions in writing that is elegant, deeply researched, deeply feeling, and profound.
    more
  • Chris Roberts
    January 1, 1970
    The real condemnation of this book is that it "needed" writing, that it exists.Love? Reap now, I have twisted artand sculpted love away from the heart. Chris Roberts, God Ascendant
  • Kristine
    January 1, 1970
    Captive Audience by Lucas Mann is a free NetGalley ebook that I read in late April.The author's narration is very much in the first-person about what they've seen or read in the style of a journal that's added to as you watch or remember something.  In this case, it's about a generation of people who want to be noticed, famous, and find personal meaning through social media, streaming video, and reality tv.  Yet, also, it's the act of being a spectator, having access to hundreds of channels of p Captive Audience by Lucas Mann is a free NetGalley ebook that I read in late April.The author's narration is very much in the first-person about what they've seen or read in the style of a journal that's added to as you watch or remember something.  In this case, it's about a generation of people who want to be noticed, famous, and find personal meaning through social media, streaming video, and reality tv.  Yet, also, it's the act of being a spectator, having access to hundreds of channels of passive viewership, the likability of some characters already on reality tv and the notoriety of others, as well as real (possibly staged?) moments of happiness, success, enthusiasm,  frustration, desperation, and anger.
    more
  • Jaime
    January 1, 1970
    This book is brilliant. It's about love and reality TV, yes, but also writing, truth, bodies, confession, selfishness, generosity—everything. It's fascinating and funny and sad and beautiful. I couldn't put it down. I loved it so much.
  • Kayo
    January 1, 1970
    I love reality TV, and I couldn't get into this book. What is wrong with this picture?!!Thanks to author, publisher and Netgalley for the chance to read this book.
  • Elizabeth
    January 1, 1970
    The description of Captive Audience offered by the publisher implies that the book is a timely study of reality TV (though Trump is not explicitly mentioned) and a watcher's relationship with it. Instead, the format is descriptions of scenes from reality TV shows, interviews with people involved in the creation of reality TV programs, and the author's thoughts of reality TV....... all interspersed with scenes from his life with his wife (who also watches a lot of reality TV). This format did not The description of Captive Audience offered by the publisher implies that the book is a timely study of reality TV (though Trump is not explicitly mentioned) and a watcher's relationship with it. Instead, the format is descriptions of scenes from reality TV shows, interviews with people involved in the creation of reality TV programs, and the author's thoughts of reality TV....... all interspersed with scenes from his life with his wife (who also watches a lot of reality TV). This format did not work for me. There were some interesting insights, but it was jarring when the topic switched to an argument between the author and his wife, possible followed by some make-up sex.This book was tough to get through. I thought about giving up several times, but completed it in order to give an informed review. (The author mentions that he occasionally reads Amazon reviews of his work, so I feel guilty now for not enjoying it more). I have had Lord Fear on my TBR pile for a long time; hopefully it is a more enjoyable read.I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
    more
  • Elizabeth
    January 1, 1970
    I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway. When I entered the giveaway I figured this would be funny, but it's not. It's a serious look at one man's reality TV consumption... kind of. It was a weird mix of memoir and research based non-fiction and I found myself loving chunks of the book and slogging through others. What I liked: I enjoyed his interviews with producers and research surrounding reality TV. Kind of wish there was a references section at the end (maybe I got an ARC and it's to come)? I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway. When I entered the giveaway I figured this would be funny, but it's not. It's a serious look at one man's reality TV consumption... kind of. It was a weird mix of memoir and research based non-fiction and I found myself loving chunks of the book and slogging through others. What I liked: I enjoyed his interviews with producers and research surrounding reality TV. Kind of wish there was a references section at the end (maybe I got an ARC and it's to come)? I also liked any time he described a big "event" on a show. I don't regularly watch many of the shows mentioned, but I knew enough about them to read along and enjoy his takeaways. What I didn't like:The format as a group of essays written to his wife about their life as it relates to reality TV (among other things). I'd fly through a passage, land on a "you" and have to remind myself that "you" is his wife and not me. I didn't love using their relationship as a frame for the story. Maybe if it was only from his perspective and not this quasi-shared experience since we never got her perspective. I felt really sad when I thought about how much time they were spending on the couch. I know they had other experiences, but since this was about TV that's all we saw (minus getting high and in fights. So not a great picture--- though near the end he addresses that, which I appreciated). I was so happy for his wife when she got a friend, then bummed when said friend left. If I was the editor on this book I would have added chapter/essay titles. Sometimes it felt like there was a point, but essays seemed to ramble on or cycle back to the couch with his wife without resolution. I often wondered where we were headed. (Plus, titles would be helpful for folks who want to go back a re-read a specific essay.) The Trump chapter felt like an afterthought after SO MUCH exposition re: folks like Nene. So, editor, I get why you asked for it, but maybe give your author a bit more time to refine. Overall, it felt like reading two books: a well-researched book about reality TV and a memoir about feeling insecure about liking reality TV (and reminding us how smart / high brow he can be in other aspects of his life). I get it, but duuuuuude just own your hobby. It's ok to like crappy TV--especially when you're dealing with heavy stuff in other aspects of life. I think he kind of got there in the end, but I have to admit I was zoning out. Mann is a good writer, but this was just OK for me. It took me a long time to get through, but I kept going back because of those great passages. Hope he doesn't read this, but if he does ... I enjoyed this, but next time pick a path. It's ok to like shitty stuff and still be smart!
    more
  • Matt Ely
    January 1, 1970
    When is comes to Lucas Mann, the one thing people can agree on is that he's *spectacular*. Some say he's a spectacular success, others a spectacular failure, but it's hard to be lukewarm about his work. I'm decidedly in the success camp, having loved his first two books. I appreciate the uniqueness of his voice, the seeming inexhaustibly to his self-inquiry (which then, of course, necessitates an inquiry of his self-inquiry). Each of his books is nominally about an exterior subject (minor league When is comes to Lucas Mann, the one thing people can agree on is that he's *spectacular*. Some say he's a spectacular success, others a spectacular failure, but it's hard to be lukewarm about his work. I'm decidedly in the success camp, having loved his first two books. I appreciate the uniqueness of his voice, the seeming inexhaustibly to his self-inquiry (which then, of course, necessitates an inquiry of his self-inquiry). Each of his books is nominally about an exterior subject (minor league baseball, his brother's death, reality television), but the undercurrent is a running inquiry about how he himself is reacting to events, how he recalls them, whether he can stand by his telling of them. For some, this will become inane ("I came here for baseball, not feelings" etc), so do not enter lightly. But if you do enter, open yourself up to the possibility that you will be changed by the experience. The subject matter here did not work for me quite so well as the first two. Still, Mann managed to elevate the subject in a new way that I appreciated. I also think his structure could have used some reinforcement. I appreciate the fact that he jumps back and forth in time, but it was hard to keep track of what he was examining from one break to the next; the chapter breaks weren't clear in their function either. But, like he says, he doesn't like simple resolution in his television, so what should I expect it from his chapters? This book is a roundabout jog through the author's thoughts on reality television, marriage, and lots more. When it works, it really works. And I'd definitely recommend it, though perhaps it makes most sense as a follow-on and partial commentary upon the first two works.
    more
  • Alex
    January 1, 1970
    Mann is a confessional writer. He watches reality TV. He loves his wife. He analyzes the shows the watch, the way the watch them, the conversations they have about them, and wonders if there is any thing to be gleaned from all this watching; what it might say about their relationship.As someone who frequently watches reality TV with my wife, I got a kick out of his analyses of various shows. And as someone who often defends confessional writing - for what is more intriguing than a psyche laid ba Mann is a confessional writer. He watches reality TV. He loves his wife. He analyzes the shows the watch, the way the watch them, the conversations they have about them, and wonders if there is any thing to be gleaned from all this watching; what it might say about their relationship.As someone who frequently watches reality TV with my wife, I got a kick out of his analyses of various shows. And as someone who often defends confessional writing - for what is more intriguing than a psyche laid bare? - I thought I'd dig his style. I hate to say it (one of Mann's confessions was that he sometimes read reviews of his works), but I found Captive Audience a bit too confessional. I enjoy a good cringe, but maybe the cringe:realization ratio was off. In the end, I'm still not sure what watching reality TV with one's wife means, which made his confessions seem simply like a psyche-baring for the sake of psyche-baring. You know, kind of like a reality TV character...
    more
  • Daniel Simcock
    January 1, 1970
    This is a great book that made me think and feel deeply about love and reality TV, the tension between wanting and not wanting to be seen, between complicity and empathy, between the real and the contrived. Reading "Captive Audience" was an unusual experience. It's satisfying because the author lifts the curtain, shows us a life of love, which he weaves into the conversation about reality TV; but it's also sometimes uncomfortable, like perhaps I should turn away because it's getting too personal This is a great book that made me think and feel deeply about love and reality TV, the tension between wanting and not wanting to be seen, between complicity and empathy, between the real and the contrived. Reading "Captive Audience" was an unusual experience. It's satisfying because the author lifts the curtain, shows us a life of love, which he weaves into the conversation about reality TV; but it's also sometimes uncomfortable, like perhaps I should turn away because it's getting too personal. Almost like a reality show, which is what I feel the author intended. Bleeding through the punctum is something genuine: the authors voice - self-deprecating and sensitive, never satisfied with the surface, always searching for the humanity in the objectified, often vilified, people behind reality TV.
    more
  • Anicca Cox
    January 1, 1970
    My friend writes great books:)
Write a review