Friday, April 12, 2013

Cable channels hit jackpot with 'redneck reality' shows, filling a niche the big networks don't

"Duck Dynasty" cast members
Rural-based television was once a staple of the major networks, mostly in the form of CBS sitcoms like "Green Acres" and "The Andy Griffith Show," but more recently reality shows such as "Duck Dynasty," "Swamp People," "Moonshiners," "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" and the just canceled "Buckwild" have drawn big ratings on cable while often portraying rural people in a less than positive light. Major networks tend to focus on urban settings and workplace sitcoms, and "have no room for rural, working-class Southerners (or rural working-class anyone, really), cable outlets like Discovery, TLC, and History are more than happy to pick up the slack" with "redneck reality" shows that feature real people in what are basically reality sitcoms, Scott Von Doviak opines for A.V. Club, an entertainment newspaper.

"Some of these programs aim no higher than pure 'let’s laugh at the white trash' hixploitation," Von Doviak writes. He calls "Duck Dynasty" a manufactured "reality show with contrived setups and one-liners that often come off as scripted and rehearsed," but said that the appeal of these shows is that "they offer a window into a captivating world of colorful characters, rugged individualism, strong family ties, and off-the-grid lifestyles" that can't be found on the major networks and "for rural, working-class viewers, these shows offer the opportunity to see 'people like us' on television."

"While the rural-themed programming of days gone by tended to depict the small Southern town as a bucolic haven for good-hearted folk, redneck reality is more apt to acknowledge the social and economic ills of the subcultures it depicts," Von Doviak writes. "Still, the ratings are a pretty clear indication that redneck reality is filling a need that isn’t being met elsewhere." (Read more)

No comments: