Again with the hillbillies. Again with the redneck trend in U.S. TV. Again, I told you so.
The news, when it came, was no shocker for this column. MTV is replacing Jersey Shore with a new teenage reality-show thingy called Buckwild (coming Jan. 3) It features "nine young-adult friends" in small-town West Virginia. Trucks, mud, y'all. From the teaser footage available, these are Honey Boo Boo's cousins from hell. They are the kids who think Duck Dynasty is a lifestyle show, not a curiosity about strange, swamp-living, duck-huntin' folks who love mud more than sun and sand.
Summarizing it is a challenge. Where to begin? Well, it starts with a young woman declaring, "West Virginia is a place founded on freedom. For me and my friends that means the freedom to do whatever the [swear word] you want." There's a guy who, it seems, has consumed 14 hot chicken wings and climbs inside a big ol' truck tire to roll down a hill. For fun, y'all. There's a guy who declares, "I don't have no phone, Facebook, none of that Internet stuff."
Right on. This trend is not a sign of the looming apocalypse. Be cranky and say it's another freak show, if you like. Mind you, perhaps it is, once again, a sign of the ceaseless search for authenticity in U.S. TV and the culture in general. New Jersey beach bums and airheads are so old. That Snooki, she's kinda sedate now. But, remember that when Jersey Shore first aired, a good part of its impact was rooted in revealing the attitudes and lifestyles of people who don't usually appear on TV, either in scripted shows or on the news.
Oh, and by the way, Duck Dynasty hit a record 4.9 million viewers recently on A&E and TLC's Here Comes Honey Boo Boo hit a high of three million viewers recently These are spectacular numbers for cable shows. Do ya think people like this stuff, or what?
Meanwhile there are other trends worth noting. Some even happening right here, in our neck of the woods.
Canadian knock-offs of worn-out reality franchises. CTV is doing The Amazing Race Canada in summer 2013. Jiminy, contestants won't race around the world, but will race across Canada. Because Canada is big and beautiful, as we all know. High-fives at CTV, we can be certain. This follows the inglorious trend established by CITY TV/Rogers doing Canada's Got Talent and then The Bachelor Canada; Slice/Shaw doing Big Brother Canada and the Corus-owned W Network doing Undercover Boss Canada. None of these shows has had much impact, although Undercover Boss Canada has been mildly popular. Most get cancelled.
Canadian broadcasters might have better luck with something local and original. Toronto City Hall cries out for a reality show featuring the Ford brothers, their cronies and enemies. All you have to do is turn on the gosh darn cameras. The Ford family could make Buckwild look like Buckmild.
More unexplainable, scary stuff. The show 666 Park Avenue may have failed, but there's
gold in the supernatural, some broadcasters are banking. If it's not vampires it's weird, paranormal stuff going on. The big deal for summer 2013 will be Under the Dome, a 13-part drama adapted from Stephen King's 2009 novel about a small New England town suddenly cut off from the rest of the world by a transparent dome, or something. Steven Spielberg's company is making it. Meanwhile, MTV is developing Blackwood, a drama about "19-year-old Miranda Blackwood who, when 114 people, including her father, suddenly vanish off Roanoke Island, begins to investigate the mass disappearance, teaming with her high school sweetheart." You know what's really scary? Those rednecks taking over TV.
But wait, that's not all that's scary. Lifetime is developing Paranormal Housewives, a "light drama" executive produced by Julia Roberts. Word is, it is about "an all-female group of paranormal investigators who call themselves the Paranormal Housewives." And you know what's really, really scary? It is based on the existence of a real Southern California group of female professional paranormal investigators.
But personally I'm more frightened of the outrage that will accompany Buckwild. As you should be. Again, I told you so.