'Buckwild' premieres: West Virginia stereotypes placed front and center

Norman Byrd's picture

On the series premiere of MTV's answer to "What are we going to to do to replace 'Jersey Shore'?" America got to see wild, wonderful West Virginia wildlife -- in a bunch of whooping, hollering redneck hillbillies.

Stereotypes, anyone? On the very first episode of the controversial new MTV reality show, "Buckwild," there was little else to see but West Virginia stereotypes, so if that's all you expected from the series, well... congratulations, you've found a new show to watch. As a replacement for the now defunct "Jersey Shore," it might come off as a bit tame in comparison, but, hey, life is simpler in the hills. And if "Buckwild" is any indication, full of the simple-minded as well.

"F' The Neighborhood" introduced the world to Shain, Tyler, and Joey, just a bunch of young good ole boys who like have fun, tear up stuff, and chase girls. The episode also introduced "The Girls": Anna, Katie, Shae, Ashley, and Cara, who would get kicked out of their house in South Charleston by the end of the first half hour. (There is a sixth girl, Salwa, a young Bengalese woman with likes to party with gang, that shows up during the second half hour -- which will most likely become a separate 30-minute show after the premiere.) It would appear that the girls are interested in hard partying and guy chasing.

Most of the "Buckwild" cast are either in college or have just graduated college, which seems to be belied by their behavior. But being educated or no, drinking, philandering, doing reckless and irresponsible things, and fighting seem to be the order of the day. And night. It is difficult to know how much of the antics and goings-on are solely for the cameras, but the overt obnoxiousness of the gang's behavior only lend to the wild and ill-bred stereotypical West Virginian. (And it does not help the West Virginia University and other colleges in the state have been ranked among the biggest party schools in the nation. WVU has even held the title more than once. Just sayin'...)

Add in all the drinking and cussing, the fact that these guys are educated gets lost in the rampant stupidity. Take, for instance, the moment when viewers meet "The Guys," who are hanging out in Wolfpen Holler in Sissonsville, a town of about 4,000 located just 10 miles north of the state capital in Charleston. Shain is seen curled up inside a giant tire while Tyler rolls him down a hill -- a la "Jackass." (In fact, there's a lot of "Jackass" in this show, which makes one wonder if Johnny Knoxville is somehow involved, considering his production of the now infamous film, "The Wild, Wonderful Whites of West Virginia." If he is, he's not listed in the production credits.)

The storyline? For the first show, there isn't much of one, other than new friend Cara gets picked up from her house in Morgantown (she's a student at WVU who is said to need a break) to live with The Girls for the summer, but isn't there long when a wild party gets them evicted (for loud music and fighting) and they're forced to find another place to live. All the guys seem taken with the idea of hooking up with Cara and at one point, Shain and Tyler even discuss her as if she's something to be negotiated over. Tyler noted in a confessional that he didn't care if he hooked up with her first, just as long as he got to be with her some time in the future. And as the minutes passed, it became apparent that Cara was somewhat taken with Tyler, the shows supposed heartbreaker.

The show is being billed as an "authentic comedy" by MTV. Thus far, only the pushing of the stereotypes of dumb-ass hillbillies and the ridiculousness of some of the scenes is comedic. For example: Shain took Cara for a ride on an ATV and they drove up on a ridge. He pulled up a bunch of wildflowers and handed them to her, roots, dirt, and all. That wasn't the amusing part. As they sat overlooking Wolfpen Holler and the various ramshackle homes dotting the land, the two talked about how pretty the view was and Cara talked about how different it was from the city. And if that wasn't amusing enough, at one point, Shain sat on an ATV talking about how the people where he lives "ain't got much" but how they made do with what they had. He said this sitting atop a four-wheeler that most likely retailed for at least $3,000. Maybe making do equates to irresponsible purchases if one "ain't got much," but who's to judge? And then there's Anna, who tossed out the fact that she was prim and proper enough to say "mudding'" instead of "muddin'," but admitted to being redneck enough to get into a few fights. Nothing like using your words wisely, regardless of how well they're pronounced.

Yeah, the show is an "authentic comedy," to be sure...

Producers of "Buckwild" help out the viewers with subtitles, which is a good thing, because without them, half of what's said wouldn't be discernible. The down-home, holler-born accent of Shain is so thick everything he says gets subtitled. The girls even joke at one point (at the "Watering Hole," a place where the gang gathers to swim downstream of a plant that Shain joked was full of run-off and had only made him sick a couple of times) that they can barely understand what he says. And that is most likely true of most West Virginians as well...

"Buckwild" airs on MTV on Thursday nights at 10 p.m. (EST).

Take Home Message: Not to be considered socially relevant or redeemable in the least, "Buckwild" is, at its very best, a depiction of a bunch of young people bent on making a name for themselves in the entertainment world. Given a platform by MTV, they're just another group young people hoping to make some money and become celebrities, a la "The Real World" and "Jersey Shore." The problem is: If there's one thing viewers learned from "Jersey Shore" and "The Real World," it was that reality shows are about 90 percent staged, especially when it comes to some of the wilder antics on the shows. And at it's very worst, that is exactly what "Buckwild" appears to be: mostly staged. MTV threw up a disclaimer at the start of the show for people at home not to attempt or engage in the kind of behavior seen on the show (in fact, they used the word "insist" in urging people not to engage), which is ludicrous on the face of the statement in that shows like "Buckwild" exist because of the entertainment factor and that there are those that are willing to do whatever it takes to become famous -- sort of a vicious cycle type of thing. But to say that "Buckwild" is typical of gatherings of young people in West Virginia would be as ridiculous as saying that "Jersey Shore" was typical of gatherings of young Italian-Americans. That the irresponsible behavior in the shows should not be emulated, however, is a good rule of thumb for life in general, but more particularly, it might be a good metric when deciding on viewing the show or deciding on whether or not one wants to allow one's children to view the series. At some point -- about 10 minutes into the first episode of "Buckwild" -- in all the drunken, promiscuous, foul-mouthed, police-disrespecting, neighborhood disrupting, childish behavior, one has to say "enough." This is not comedy, "authentic" or otherwise. It is an exercise in misapplied energies, on-camera exhibitionism, and a cautionary tale for not only parents who would rather their children never indulge in such behavior but for all young people who find reality just a little more promising than inane conversation, meaningless relationships, and what can be found at the bottom of a beer bottle.

(photo credit: Buckwild, MTV)


Submitted by JimmyMackey (not verified) on
Other than the fact that this show’s cast lives in the state of West Virginia, I don’t think it is any better or worse than Jackass, which everyone seemed to accept well enough to turn into several movies. Jersey Shore didn’t result in any potentially life threatening injuries yet it was equally criticized as Buckwild. I caught the show only because my wife heard from my DISH coworker about it being protested and wanted to see if it was as bad as people say. I won’t say; it is too unbelievable to even comment on. My wife and I used to fight over which one of our recordings should be deleted but we can record just about anything we want, now that we have a DISH Hopper that holds over 2,000 hours of TV and movies. That is an entire video library so now we get more variety and enjoy our TV watching without fighting.

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