The return of Rednecksploitation on TV
Nearly five years after some young southern West Virginia adults took MTV’s “Buckwild” to a height of redneck popularity, MTV and the former producers of “Buckwild” are at it again.
And 2013 deja vu hit too – “Buckwild’s” resident diva Salwa Amin has been arrested in Florida on a Virginia warrant for distribution of controlled substances.
Show antics prompted ratings; off season activity resulted in cancellation, after an accidental death and unrelated arrests.
But the interest in Rednecksploitation reality shows has brought film crews to Elkhorn City, Ky. (near Pikeville) and back to Charleston.
Filming has started in Elkhorn City for an MTV reality series “Made in Kentucky,” which is similar to the “Jersey Shore” Similarly, shooting has started in Charleston for “WV Wilder,” produced by the “Buckwild” filmmaking team.
MTV released a statement that “Made in Kentucky” follows a group of friends in the Appalachian coal country who “make their own fun through country shenanigans and wild behavior.”
Among the fun: Hillbilly jet skiing, lawn mower jousting and a dumpster converted to a hot tub.
Elkhorn City Mayor Mike Taylor has objected to the new “coming-of-age” series.
“You’re not going to make us look like idiots,” Taylor told production representatives at the March council meeting.
The Elkhorn City News-Express quoted film reps from Viacom and MTV as explaining:
“The ‘hot tub’ was meant to be used in an ‘improv-type’ scene.” Another “produced” bit included a game of hide-and-seek which the company said would be played by the cast hiding in vehicles and driving around to find each other.
“It’s just a vehicle for us to get dialogue as we make it seem like the kids are having fun. And they’re young, fun kids,” said one of the production members.”
Viacom assured council members that they have vetted the 10 youths featured on “Made in Kentucky.” Mayor Taylor said the city has had “issues” with one or more of them. All do not live in Elkhorn City; the production company rented rooms for several returnees that had moved away.
“The idea is not to have a wild, drunken party and constantly doing things like ‘Jersey Shore’ and all of that,” a production rep said. Cast and crew will work closely with safety consultants. “It will not focus on sex, drugs or drinking.”
Emails to several of these sources for an update on the Elkhorn City shooting has not been answered at deadline.
The Kentucky series is expected to air on Thursdays beginning in July.
Meanwhile, J.P. Williams (an executive producer of “Buckwild”) said in mid-May that “WV Wilder” will not be an imitation of “Buckwild”. He said in a news release that MTV has agreed to look at the production but, as of now, “WV Wilder” is still shopping for a cable or streaming network.
His company, Parallel Entertainment, stated in part prior to an AP story that Charleston shooting has commenced.
The original producing team has gone back to Appalachia where it all began. Executive Producers JP Williams, Jennifer Novak-Riker and John Stevens believe the project and new cast, including Spencer Tarley (“Tar”) related to “Buckwild’s” late Shain Gandee, are the next breakout stars of the reality genre. Novak-Riker added, “We are always searching for interesting characters across the country and when we recently went to Morgantown, we struck gold. The female cast members are strong and dynamic and lead this wild bunch, which is refreshing to see.”
Assuming that these two series make it to air (or streaming), unless viewers turn away, Sen. Manchin will likely be penning two letters asking for removal of both. In 2013, he asked that “Buckwild” shooting be stopped.
Tony Rutherford is a film reviewer for HuntingtonNews.net and a member of the Huntington Regional Film Commission.