I saw this headline today: Is Hollywood done with Southern reality shows? Here’s an excerpt from the story:
Just a few months ago, networks were gunning to cram their programming hours with salt-of-the-earth Southern fare, also affectionately known as redneck reality television. Moonshiners, duck call makers, backyard oil drillers – you name it: If the shows featured good-‘ol southern characters, the shows got the green light. But now an industry source tells us time have changed, and studio doors are locked tight when new Southern shows come a-knockin’. “The market just got saturated and development execs are all looking for next big thing…” Read the rest of the story.
Ahem. On the subject of “the next big thing,” might I make a suggestion?
Try giving me something I can’t find at the local Wal Mart. And that suggestion might even be an insult to Wal Mart. To networks execs in Tinseltown or New York, maybe redneck is a novelty. But to a sizeable portion of the country, redneck is... right next door, frying up squirrels and running cock-fighting rings at 2am while we try to sleep. (As we speak, the middle school football coach in my hometown is facing charges for fighting roosters. Cock. Fighting. Should we run out and put him on tv?)
Dear Hollywood: don't answer that.
This blog isn't a rant against rednecks. I lived in a small Florida town long enough to know that'll get you a Southern-fried ass-kicking. It's simply a suggestion that... maybe what we see screaming through our backyards doesn't necessarily belong on TV. Some of it—the majority of it—just belongs in our backyards, our diners, our screen porches. I'm sure the nice people of New Jersey, for example, might say the same. And it isn't that some of the shows aren't good. Some of smashing viewership records. It's that apparently, these execs—once they hear a formula is taking off—aren't very good tacticians. Instead of having a strategic planning meeting for good Southern reality, they just hang up a sign-up sheet.
Whatever. But here are five Southern reality shows that I don’t have to watch to know that I'm not going to watch...
Honey Boo Boo (Georgia). In my search for a photo for this show, I came across people playing with mayonnaise, jiggling their pre- and post-diabetes bellies, and wearing tiaras from the kinds of beauty pageants that turn perfectly normal young girls into bulimic trainwrecks with bad dye jobs. In the meantime, raise your hand if you're so entirely bored with your life that you'll watch this. Is that a tough reality check?
Real Housewives of Atlanta. Shallow, overly styled frenemies doing nothing of significance, the Dixie version. Oh by the way, when I mentioned Wal Mart earlier, that wasn't reserved for the South. Rich harlots complaining their way through the streets of NYC or Orange County are also Wal Mart quality: mass produced, unoriginal, cheap, and tacky. Reality bites, doesn't it?
Small Town Security (Georgia). From what I've gathered from clips on The Soup, this is really just an office that exists solely for people to fart in (I really hate that word, and I hate that they made me use it). That's it. Again, can't we get that at home? We don't WANT to, but we can.
Myrtle Manor (Just down the road). Who? Whaaa? Why? I mean, I've spent time in a trailer before. It was perfectly fine. Did I think, "Wait, better call Hollywood, this is getting good?" No. I think I just fixed myself a frozen pizza, got a TV tray, and waited for The Love Boat to start.
Hillbilly Handfishin' (Oklahoma... so not really the South) In looking for a picture for this show, I came across this next one... and it got me thinking. Could I stick my hand in the water and catch a fish. Probably. But....
Could I do THIS? Nope. See, now things are getting interesting (I think it's from a show called Gator Boys). I can't hold a gator like that, and I don't know anyone who can or would. Now that... THAT looks like something that ought to go on tv. Now they're getting the hang of it...