Why do reality television’s most popular stars so uncannily resemble the heroines of the 19th-century writer’s work? 'what’s clear reading Austen today, or watching one of the countless adaptations of her work, is how much the women in her novels have in common with so many of the women on reality television. Her female characters are defined by two primary qualities: their privilege and their powerlessness. Her writing focuses almost entirely on women searching for stability and status, deploying the very limited means available to them. Deprived of intellectual gratification or professional empowerment, they scheme, manipulate, and get bogged down in petty rivalries with each other. That they do nothing of much more substantive significance ) is their flaw, but also, as Austen portrays it, their fate. Isn’t it weird? '