W.Va.-based reality show already making muddy splash
CHARLESTON, W.Va. - It opens with an image of the state welcome sign: "Welcome to West Virginia, Wild and Wonderful." Then it cuts to a peaceful valley scene. Young people stroll down railroad tracks.
The mood changes suddenly. A curse word is bleeped out of the dialogue - then another. We see a lot of mud, some nudity, and a bunch of beer cans.
This is the promo video for "Buckwild," the new MTV reality show featuring a group of nine young people from West Virginia. Filmed in Sissonville and Charleston, the show will premiere on MTV at 10 p.m. Jan. 3.
MTV said in a release that the series is about a group of friends "united by the deep pride they have for small-town American life, in which they find unique ways to create their own fun."
"From transforming a dump truck into a pool party to building a human slingshot, they live their lives loud and proud without restrictions."
MTV is billing the show as a replacement for the infamous "Jersey Shore," which drew record ratings for MTV but garnered criticism for its portrayal of Italian Americans and the state of New Jersey.
Indeed, despite the change of scenery, the two shows seem to share an acute appreciation for the dramatic turns in the lives of the young people they feature - and their hijinks. The promo shows the cast of "Buckwild" romping in mud, fighting and rolling down a hill inside of a rubber tire.
Their motto, it seems, is "Whatever happens, happens."
"It's unfortunate - I'm offended," said Alisa Bailey, president and CEO of the Charleston Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. "It's such a stereotype."
Bailey doesn't plan to watch the show, but she's sure plenty of people will.
"I'm sure a lot of people have morbid curiosity," she said. "It's a shame and shame on them. We're trying to build this destination as a great place to come."
Thursday's announcement and video trailer also triggered a slew of discussion on social media. Some of it was positive - some, less so.
One Sissonville resident called it "a waste of film and time" on the community discussion board Topix. Another called it "an embarrassment."
But others were supportive, defending the kids' right to have fun and take the national stage.
"Remember that these are still people not just an image," one user said. "They were chosen for their unique quirky personalities."
By the early afternoon one of the show's stars, Ashley Whitt, had taken to Twitter to defend herself.
"Keep hatin'," she wrote, before telling her critics she'll "be laughing all the way to the bank."
MTV twice applied for tax credits from the West Virginia Film Office, but was denied the 31 percent tax break. The panel believed the show would be derogatory.
Zoo Productions and J.P. Williams of Parallel Entertainment, based in Los Angeles, are producing the show. Williams is a West Virginia native. He told the Daily Mail last year that the show isn't meant to ridicule West Virginians, but that he sees it as less an opportunity to return to his home state than "an opportunity to make money."
The show will air two back-to-back episodes each week on MTV, from 10 to 11 p.m., beginning Jan. 3.
Contact writer Shay Maunz at email@example.com or 304-348-4886.