In You Could Do Better by Stephanie Lehmann, Daphne, a curator at the NY Museum of Television, is worried that her reaction to her own wedding proposal — she wants it delayed/over so she can watch a proposal taking place on her favorite night time drama (begging the question: has she never heard of TiVo?) — is not the reaction of a woman in love. Thus kicks off the plot of the novel as Daphne takes a look at her life and asks the tough questions: Is it cold feet? Is fiance Charlie nice, but not for her? Can you live your whole life happily with no oral sex? Does she watch too much TV?
The book is filled with tons of pop culture references and TV trivia, which something that tends to pull me out of a story, but in this case it’s integrated and makes sense as Daphne is the TV obsessed curator of a museum dedicated to TV, and not just, say, a character being likened to Elaine on Seinfeld by the author because it’s an easy way to conjure up an image of a character that will soon be dead to future readers. (Or not, actually, if they keep playing it ad nauseum on TBS.) You Could Do Better keeps its characters and its situations real, from Daphne’s whacked out, kept-woman of a sister to the fiance who knows something’s off but may not be entirely willing to go through the motions to fix it to the hot TV producer who is leery of people using him to pitch stories. (Daphne has to watch herself around him to keep herself from asking such pertinent questions like “That character in that one show, that had premature ejaculation issues? Was that based on you?”). And through it all Lehmann manages to keep it amusing while making me want to beg to be her partner on a quiz night. She’d KILL in the pop culture questions.