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Reality dramas of the future
After 'Buckwild' and 'Jersey Shore,' where could the
genre go next?
By Robert Isenberg Special to MSN TV
Get ready: "Buckwild" premieres Thursday, Jan. 3, at 10 p.m.
ET/PT, and it's going to be nuts. The MTV series follows a bunch of
reckless youths in West Virginia who crash dirt bikes, get into brawls and shoot
at squirrels. Some folks are already furious, like Sen. Joe Manchin, who doesn't care for "Buckwild"
and its representation of the Mountain State. Other people (read: Honey Boo Boo fans) can't wait.
But after "Jersey
Shore" gave the Garden State a bad name (well, a worse name) and "Russian
Dolls" infuriated the good people of Brighton Beach, we wondered: Where
could the genre go next? What unsuspecting corner of the U.S. could get its own
reality drama replete with substance abuse, cultural stereotypes and nonsensical
"Big Easy" Location: New Orleans Cast: Jean
Thibadaux, Bubba X, Raizin Kane, O. Miss, Ragin' Cajun Summary: Five
aspiring musicians move into an old mansion in the French Quarter. (They don't
actually play any instruments). They chug hurricanes every night and stagger all
over Bourbon Street. They get in trouble for barging
into a séance and heckling a voodoo statue, and Raizin Kane spends most of the
season trying to get a hex lifted. One episode involving 'gators and dynamite
never airs. They finish the season with Mardi Gras, where they are booed off an
open mic stage. It is soon discovered they are all actually from New York.
"Wicked Awesome" Location: Gloucester, Mass. Cast:
J. Smith, "Southie" O'Brien, Cape Grrl, Jennie "One L" Summary: After
earning academic probation from Boston University, the gang moves into a saltbox
cottage on the Gloucester shore (pronounced "glah-stah sho'a"), where they get
hammered with sailors in dark little pubs and recycle jokes from "Jaws." They argue
incessantly about the Yankees vs. Red Sox rivalry, and every single episode ends
in a drunken fistfight. The season concludes with St. Peter's Fiesta, when all
the guys try to "walk the greasy pole." They all end up in the hospital with
serious bone fractures.
"You Betcha" Location: Duluth, Minn. Cast: Leif
Bjorn, Jon Tierson, Erik Erikson, Esther Klein, Heidi Deutsch Summary: Five
incredibly blond youths move into a 1950s ranch-style house in suburban Duluth.
Upon arrival, they immediately start volunteering for local soup kitchens. Most
episodes take place in real time at the Lutheran Church. A local ne'er-do-well
tricks Esther into visiting a bingo parlor. She flees in tears because "gambling
is a sin." Heidi starts a bowling league, The Shining Light. Leif undergoes
muscular therapy for his mouth, due to the stress of so much smiling. The season
ends with a raging house party, featuring "root beer keg stands."
"Yippeekayay" Location: Houston Cast: Brick, Big Dawg,
Dwayne Zane, Dixie, Mary-Sue Summary: Dubbing themselves The Lone Stars,
these five Texans hole up in a McMansion on the edge of Houston, where they
drink beer from cans and then shoot the cans off fence posts with .22 rifles.
Each episode involves (a) a tailgating party for the Houston Texans, (b) at
least one pickup truck flying through the desert, and (c) a mechanical bull. In
the finale, Mary-Sue joins a roller-derby team and starts her own spin-off, "The
"Shaka Beach" Location: Maui, Hawaii Cast: Big Slice,
Hangten, Jamie Ke'ala, Dirk Foblonde Summary: A gang of surfers with
zero-percent body fat hang out in a tiny cabin on the Maui beach. They wake each
morning and surf. Their eyes are always bloodshot, and they constantly plan to
"forage for grub," but the plan never comes together, so they continue surfing
instead. At the local tiki lounge, they get into a passive-aggressive argument
with some surfers from California, but then they buy one another mai
tais and decide to go drunken cliff-diving. They return to their cabin to find
it engulfed in flames, because no one turned off the stove. "Dude," Big Slice
moans, "my dad's gonna kill me."
"Kings of Hilton Head" Location: Hilton Head, S.C.
Cast: Quentin Smith III, Beatrix Paine, Wayne Cash, Gloria
Scarlet Summary: A bunch of wealthy retirees raise hell at the local golf
club. They drink gallons of mint juleps and drive their golf carts like
all-terrain vehicles, chasing "the help" and cackling madly. Quentin refuses to
wear sunblock, insisting that he's "no wilting flower," and he ends up in the
hospital with sun poisoning. In the season finale, Gloria Scarlet pursues
Beatrix Paine's grandson, and the two women argue and scratch at each other's
faces in the parlor. Wayne stumbles into the room, but he doesn't break up the
fight. Instead he sips an old-fashioned and murmurs, "Well, I'll be."
"Little Big City" Location: Reno, Nev. Cast: Mickey
"Knuckles," "Lucky" Dodgeson, Danielle "21" McQueen, Johnny Shootz Summary:
With their snakeskin jackets and thirst for free cocktails, the cast of "Little
Big City" hit the casinos any hour of the day or night. "Lucky" is kicked out of
Harrah's for dancing on a craps table, Chippendales-style. Danielle and Johnny wake up in
a waterbed to realize they married each other the previous night.
Mickey punches a dealer and spends most of the season in jail. Their desert
trailer is finally raided, thanks to a "COPS"
"Quebec-Wha'?" Location: Quebec City, Quebec Cast:
Jean-Claude, Le Monsieur, Zoë-Z, Madeleine Punque, Chef Dawg Summary:
Canada's answer to reality dramas stars five sexy ... abstract painters.
They wear zippered turtlenecks and sip wine, discussing Rothko as jazz records
play on the turntable. Fueled by inspiration, they attack their canvases with
oil paint and brushes, trying to capture "the spirit of our hearts." All
conversations are held in English and French in the comfort of their vintage
loft. Everyone ends up making out with everyone else, thanks of their "polyamory
pact." In the final episode, someone turns on a hockey game and the cast starts
fighting and hurling Molson cans.
"Key Party" Location: Key West, Fla. Cast: Vince
Vincent, Carrie "Beachcomber" Quint, Stardust, Walt "Driftwood" McCune, Carl
Nailz Summary: Filmed over the course of spring break, "Key Party" is
absolute chaos: The castmates get plastered on Duval Street, they pick fights
with motorcycle gangs, they drunkenly ride rented bicycles off piers, and
they wake up on beaches with no clothes or memory of how they got there. They
all live in an old B&B, except for Carl Nailz, a retired helicopter pilot
who is twice as old as the rest of the cast. The season ends with Carl streaking
down the street and tattoo artist Vince Vincent mumbling, "That's it, I'm going
back to engineering school."
"Los Locos" Location: San Juan, Puerto Rico Cast:
Felix Jacuzzi, Vinnie Sands, T-Bone, Teddy Shark, Gwyneth St.
Bartholomew Summary: Filmed in a colonial condo in the Old City, "Los Locos"
doesn't feature a single authentic citizen of Puerto Rico. The all-Beverly Hills
cast proceeds to drink mojitos, drive pink muscle cars with powerful hydraulics,
and speak garbled Spanglish. After "the dune buggy incident," Puerto Rico shuts
down production. The studio creates a spin-off in Guam, titled "Brats."
"Buckwild" premieres Thursday, Jan. 3, at 10 p.m. ET/PT on MTV.