I Went to Utopia And Made Out With A Guy

October 3, 2014 • Love & Sex

Recently, I’ve been watching Utopia on FOX.  The first episode introduced 15 people who were chosen to live in a “utopia” for a year.  The only thing they could bring was a small box of personal belongings.  Amongst the cast was a polygamist belly dancer, a former inmate with a violent temper, a lawyer, a hillbilly with no teeth, a yoga instructor, and a chef.  Within the first 20 minutes Dave, the former inmate, lost his temper because the utopians were only allowed to fill one box with all of their belongings, leaving most of their stuff behind.  Dave yelled, “I was told I could bring everything in this box!  I’m not doing this if I have to leave anything behind!”  I think he punched the wall a few times and stormed out, eventually calming down.  Cute 20-year-old Bri wanted to bring bug spray, but the environmentalist Bella said it might be bad for the insects and bees needed to pollinate their plants.  No one acknowledged her even though she had a point.


The utopians are filmed 24 hours a day.  There are 130 cameras capturing their every move and listening to everything they say.  Anyone can watch parts of the live feed on their website, and if you pay a monthly fee of $4.99, you can watch them non-stop, 24/7.  A friend of mine described watching the live feed as a “full-time job.”  It actually reminds me of the documentary We Live In Public, about the loss of privacy in the Internet age.  It follows a guy named Josh Harris who set up a human terrarium in NYC in the late 90s, following every move of the 100 participants living in a building for a few months, broadcast on the Internet for everyone to watch.  Josh Harris eventually put over 30 cameras in his own home and experienced a mental breakdown.  He came to the conclusion that the Internet is not an intimate medium, and trading your private life for peer recognition will only result in harmful effects.

In the case of Utopia, having your every move put underneath a microscope is nothing new.  Thousands of people have volunteered their time, likeness, and access to their inner thoughts for the entire world to see.  It’s become a regular theme ever since The Real World made it hip over 20 years ago. I initially got into Utopia thinking, “what are these idiots going to say next?” But then my “ironic” watching turned into just watching.  I’m not afraid to say I watch The Bachelor because I really fucking enjoy that shit.

The relationships on Utopia have evolved just like any other reality show, but this is the first time everyone has to create their own world, not be dropped into one.  The government systems rotate amongst the cast members.  One week was a “women rule” system, which actually worked quite well.  Every few weeks someone is voted out and replaced to shake things up.  In the case of Dave, the former inmate, everyone wanted him to leave based on his horrible temper.  One episode when they were discussing food, Dave insisted on ordering Ramen noodles because they were cheap, and kept saying, “I want my soups!”  He also said, “Prison food is the best food!”  Both quotes I love saying out loud to myself, or when I pass by the Ramen noodle section in the grocery store.

The utopians need food to survive, and money to buy that food, so in order to make money they have to start businesses.  The first and easiest way they made money was inviting people inside the gates and charging them $20 for a “Utopia Experience.”  The guests were able to tour the land, meet the utopians, and buy their artwork.  It was successful so they decided to do it the following weekend.  Anyone could sign up to visit, and since it’s in Santa Clarita (45 minutes north of LA) I signed up along with my friend Lizzy.  We got emails inviting us to the “Utopia Experience” and were stoked.

On our drive up there, we talked about who we wanted to meet.  Bella, the environmentalist, was our first interest.  She’s obsessed with organic everything and even ordered a water filter without the consent of the group.  We wanted to tell her how much we appreciated her.  Hex, the 6 foot tall huntress babe, was also on our list.  She’s from Detroit so we wanted to talk Michigan with her.  The youngest utopian, Bri, was also a priority because we wanted to encourage her to keep building confidence and to forget about Chris, the musician who has been kind of a dick to her after sleeping with her the first week.  We’re really into this show, if you couldn’t tell.

The rules inside Utopia were strict- no phones obviously and no talk of production logistics.  It was hard to not ask the utopians personal questions about food, sex, and how they survive without taking anti-anxiety pills.  Mike the lawyer asked what my ideal utopia is and I said it consists of a candy machine filled with Ativan and an endless refrigerator full of Coronas and limes.

Inside the gates was much more beautiful than I expected.  Also, I got the ring the entrance bell and was way too excited about that.  All the utopians we met were much better looking in person, and I kept telling them that, which probably made me sound like a psychopath.  Hex’s eyes were so dreamy, and Mike’s hair was straight off a L’Oreal hair dye box.

Lizzy bought Bella’s watercolor painting of the newborn calf, and I ended up spending a lot of time talking with Mike.  At one point he said, “You’re the exact type of girl I would want to date.”  I’m sort of in love with Mark Duplass, and Mike looks like a weird version of him, and he’s really funny, so I started to crush on him.

Oh, and then we made out.  Whoops.

I left Utopia and looked at my phone to find a whole bunch of tweets from people watching the live feed saying, “OMG Mike is kissing a super young girl!” and “She’s @MelissaStetten!” and “Is that girl even legal?”  Which is SUCH a great compliment.  Of course I read the usual “FAMEWHORE” tweets from the h8ers, but I didn’t go there planning on causing that much of a ruckus.  I actually liked that guy.  I’ll probably send him a Facebook friend request in 11 months when he’s out.

You can go to www.UtopiaTV.com to see clips of me making out with that dude, or watch the episode Friday night, along with my mom who will be talking about this for the next year.


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  • axl

    I didn’t see any comments so I thought I’d add one written by your biggest fan! https://i.imgur.com/y6J0pOD.jpg

  • Guest

    “Haters” are pointing out the obvious. Everyone knows Melissa Stetten a Fame whore.

  • Red0000

    “Haters” are pointing out the obvious. Everyone knows Melissa Stetten is a Fame whore.

    • I love my haters and supporters equally 🙂

      • Red0000

        Do you consider yourself a “fame whore”? Not trolling, just curious.

        • Not at all. I get a kick out of doing things that are fun and controversial. My neglected childhood obviously has something to with enjoying attention. I gain confidence from positive feedback for my writing also. I have no desire to be famous just for the sake of being famous. If I never posted another thing on the Internet and moved to the middle of nowhere, I would be equally as happy as long as I was doing something I enjoyed.

          • Red0000

            I appreciate your honesty. Is it true that you had sex with Pauly Shore?

          • Holy fuck no! Where do you people come up with this shit?!?

          • Red0000

            Your ex boyfriend

  • RandomJerk

    Attention whore goes whoring. Bonus humble-brag.

    Alert the media.

  • Lii

    As long as you’re entertaining yourself, yo. Roll with that. I fail to see how it should affect anyone else one way or the other. I suppose that would make you a personal entertainment whore? Except not in a Taylor way.

  • dali_433

    I’m a fan of the Utopia feeds and enjoyed your article. Also enjoyed you kissing Mike while sitting on the fence. Can’t believe there are so many nasty people in the world just waiting to call someone something disgusting (fame whore??!!). Just ignore them and keep on keeping on. Sending you best wishes.

  • Katie

    I was SO excited to see you on Utopia making out with “hair” – and I find your writing very entertaining – you rule, Melissa!

  • Jeremy French

    do you like him as much as you liked anthony you whooaaahhh we know you just want to be famous you never will be.

    • I’ve been hearing this same comment for 4 years. Don’t you have anything else to insult me with?

  • Don’t worry, he’ll be out in a few weeks when the show is canceled.

  • NYszq

    I watched your visit but hated that you hooked up with Mike. Hes a first class DB. I think I would have gone for Josh. He looks cute in his shorty shorts and has a great sense of humor. Any chance you will go back?

    • I’m very lazy, so probably not.

      • NYszq

        C’mon! You were the most fun that has happened there in a month! 🙂

  • Danny Lightfoot

    One time I drove up from Louisiana to Foxwoods and played in Poker tourney with your ex. You guys ended up drinking with us for awhile and ended up hanging most of the night. You/Ex/Keith/and Danny were all fun that night and from now on i’m just gonna have a camera on me in case other attractive fame whores(aren’t we all fame whores?) want to make out.

  • mopmonkey

    Watched it for the first and last time. The show doesn’t do it for me,but you had fun. When it gets later in your life,you’ll be happy you tried some things,and you won’t regret the ones that didn’t work out as planned.

  • John
  • Missy Morris Taylor Watson

    LOL Melissa, you will get to have him as a FB friend a lot sooner than 11 months. After seeing how manipulative and conniving and just plain nuts he is, do you REALLY wanna ride that crazy train? If so, then you deserve the wanna be actor. LOL

  • Debra

    Glad to see you made it back to Utopia. You have an interesting turn of words and perspective, which I admire. It was very brave to go up and face your curiosity with this eclectic group in a weird science project that could have been presented in high school. Watching the feeds sometimes reminds me of high school. Ignore the naysayers, they have nothing real to say…hence their name.

    Fellow Utopian watcher,

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