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New reality show unlikely to yield any positives for state

Dec. 01, 2012 @ 12:00 AM

The time for West Virginians to brace themselves for another round of negative exposure is here. MTV has announced that "Buckwild," a so-called reality show set in West Virginia, will debut in January.

Based on the trailer for the show and MTV's own description of it, "Buckwild" isn't likely to cast a favorable impression of West Virginians. Here's how MTV's website touts the show:

"The show ... follows the exploits of nine friends in small town Sissonville, West Virginia, as they fight, drink, four-wheel, dive in mud puddles and generally tear things up while following their simple credo: 'Whatever happens, happens.'" Those featured in the show, MTV says, " ... have a knack for creating their own unique brand of good times, from turning a giant dump truck into a makeshift swimming pool, to rigging up a human slingshot, rolling down hills in giant truck tires and partying until the neighbors can't stand it anymore."

The reaction of people in Charleston who saw the show's trailer was predictable. Sissonville is located about 15 miles north of Charleston. Alisa Bailey, president and CEO of the Charleston Convention and Visitor's Bureau, told The Charleston Gazette, "Wow. That's just most unfortunate." Kanawha County Commissioner Kent Carper told the Gazette that he found the trailer shocking. "They're unfortunately pushing a stereotype I think most people (in West Virginia) will resent ..."

Their assessments seem right on target.

West Virginia has long been a victim of stereotyping and the target of negative publicity. An example was the unscripted TV show "Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution," which seized upon the label for the Huntington metro area as the fattest in the nation. However, that show had a redeeming quality; it was about efforts to tackle obesity, a serious problem faced by West Virginia and the rest of the country.

We doubt the same can be said of "Buckwild."

Certainly, other locales have been cast in a negative light by TV shows. "Jersey Shore," the show that "Buckwild" replaces in MTV's lineup, was criticized for portrayals of Italian-American stereotypes using people who weren't even residents of the places featured. But that doesn't make it any easier to swallow when shows present a "reality" that doesn't truly depict the people of a region.

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