Audiobook Review: X-Rated by Maitland Ward

Rated X: How Porn Liberated Me from Hollywood

Early in her memoir Rated X, Maitland Ward relates a story about how her first boyfriend discovered a cache of Penthouse Letters and then read them to her over the phone. As the story of Ward’s life and career unfolds, I couldn’t help but think that this was her own take on a letter to the adult magazine.

Ward is either best known for her role in ABC’s Boy Meets World or her racy photos that she’s “reinvented” herself on social media.

A lot of the run time of Rated X is Ward patting herself on the back for being who she is and what she’s become today. She is unashamed of the career path she’s taken, nor is she necessarily worried about the bridges she has burned within the professional community. A common theme of later chapters, after Ward overhears an agent saying her career is pretty much over, is that she and her family are all proud of who and what she’s become and that Hollywood can just get over it.

I don’t mind that Ward feels empowered by her chosen path. I don’t mind that she feels like she has to be her own champion and throws her success back in the face of everyone who ever doubted her. However, as the chapters slowly blur together the closer to the present we get, I kept waiting for something more substantial to emerge than Ward’s observation of “Hey, look at me. I do porn and I’m fine.”

It’s similar to how I feel about DVD commentaries on recent shows or movies — the participants haven’t necessarily had the time and distance to really get a perspective on what they’ve done and its impact. I feel like Ward is so caught up in the justification of her current career and choices, that we don’t have much deeper consideration of what those choices can and will mean to her.

In many ways, it felt like this was a “strike while the iron is hot” kiss-and-tell memoir, designed to keep Ward’s name and face in front of the media. Indeed, upon its publication, I did see multiple articles that referenced some of the more salacious details and observances from Ward.

But, in the end, I couldn’t help coming away from this one feeling like it was more of a bag of chips instead of a substantial meal in terms of reading/listening. Ward telling her own stories on the audio was both intriguing and disconcerting. In the end, it feels like the last few chapters are more designed to draw attention to Ward now and justify her choices, rather than being truly interesting or offering any new or interesting observations.

Read this one at your own risk. It’s not for the easily offended.

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