I wasn’t intending to, but happened to see most of last night’s debut episode of “Buckwild” as it came on right after we wrapped up our weekly Thursday night Third Eye Cabaret at The Cellar in downtown Charleston, W.Va.. The Cellar bartender, Nick, who sports a killer mohawk on Cabaret evenings, happens to be from Sissonville, W.Va., where part of the series was filmed, and knows some of the folks in the cast. Plus, one of the cabaret singers is a Sissonvillianne by birth and needed to see what MTV had done with its depiction of what I jokingly dubbed “her people.” Nick was hot to check the show out and got it rolling on the Cellar’s wall-mounted TV. What’s your reaction? I asked him after it was over: “Kinda’ embarrassing in places,” he said, heading to re-stock somebody’s Magic Hat. But overall, he said he enjoyed it. The show does have pretty good production values and some killer lines: “You can be my puppy baby daddy” deserves to be a new web meme.
Starting next week, we intend to stage After Cabaret “Buckwild” Viewings at the Cellar, 8 Capitol St., starting Jan. 11. So, come and watch, react and do a shot (non-alcoholic ones available if driving) every time mud, breasts, fights, muddy breasts, muddy breasts while fighting and incomprehensible Appalachian accents requiring subtitles are shown.
Here, just off the top of my head, are a few quick reactions to the first dollops of the show. I’m not gonna get all outraged like anyone over 30 around West Virginia (I am well over 30) is likely doing in comments and on Facebook along with the esteemed (well, not all that esteemed) Sen. Joe Manchin or ape the inevitable MSM round-up of tut-tuts. Really, it’s not that big a deal. The outrage factory will just drive more eyeballs to what is, in truth, just a live-action cartoon set in a supposed West Virginia that exists only out the corner of one eye of some jaded MTV producer headed out after work via a company limo to get socked on appletinis and find a transvestite stripper to screw who won’t give him the clap. (See how caricatures work?)
10 Reactions to ‘Buckwild’
1. SNUGGLES ROCKS: My favorite character so far is Snuggles, the low-bellied little white dog. “Git outa’ the way, Snuggles,” one cast member warns the waddling dog. The rest — well, yeah, there are fun-seeking, foul-mouthed, empty-headed, sweet, horny, foolish, kids galore in the hollers and backroads of West Virginia. These young un’s represent, from my estimate, about 30 percent of the actual personas of about 21 to 37 percent of the actual youth population of West Virginia. In other words, there are several slivers of truth here, but this is about as close to a documentary as “Twilight” is to a primer on blood donation.
2. KILLER PRODUCTION: The show producers really should be charged with child endangerment. Really, the scenes with the two boys hanging on the dump truck as it emptied its load and the one guy swinging around in the bucket of the large earth-mover before it dumped him out were obviously ones these kids were egged on to do. You can bet if one of the two guys had fallen as the bed went up, “Buckwild” would have been stillborn. The things MTV does for art.
3. KEEP ON TRUCKING: I will bet you 5 appletinis that the scene of the dump truck wildly roaring onto the new property where the girls move to after they are evicted was done by a stunt driver. It’s a holy terror on the backroads of West Virginia to encounter a dump or coal truck bearing down on you descending, say, Sandstone Mountain. No sane person would drive one of these monsters that fast and carelessly, much less one of these kids. Much less, a supposed commercial vehicle ‘borrowed’ from a friend’s place of employment. Major Falsity Alert.
4. TAKING A DUMP: Major Falsity Alert No. 2: the dump truck swimming pool. Did you note the two mattresses placed into the bottom of the dump truck before the liner and water went in? Right. You might wonder if that’s a traditional form of West Virginia mattress recycling and downscale pool creation? Let it be said: this is the first time a dump truck swimming pool has ever been seen in West Virginia. And the last. But, really, points to the producers for coming up with an idea so ridiculous it was almost brilliant in its out-there-ness. Imagine the MTV producer lying in bed one night (clap-free, thank GOD!), nursing an appletini hangover and suddenly coming bolt-up right in bed as the trannie stripper just grunts and rolls back to sleep: “A dump truck! A swimming pool. IN a dump truck…!” He reaches for his Blackberry.
5. DAD, WHERE ART THOU?: As the father of a teenage girl, here was my thought as the one tall chick goes mano a mano with the black woman neighbor in the candy-apple red wig, as well as the $100-bet the other girl takes to bare her boobs as she dives into the dump-truck pool (pixilated on screen by the tasteful MTV producers). The thought was this: these girls are fatherless, do not have a father directly in their lives on a day-to-day basis or had pretty seriously absent fathers. Sorry if you are the dads of them. Kids these days! What are you gonna do, when they act like louts, idiots, drunken racists and bare-breasted attention seekers on national TV? I do hope they shared their paychecks from the show with you.
6. I NEED A HUG: I DID like the hug between the candy-apple red-haired black woman and the black-haired boy cast member, trying to soothe over the roll-on-the-ground fight on camera between said black woman and said white-trash teen after it occurred (because that was what the appletini-addled producers were going for, after all, as they were seeking to capture the true weltanschauung of rural West Virginia).
The show, I should add, takes place partly in Charleston, W.Va., where I work, which all things considered has a fairly easy-going mix of black and white folk on its streets and in its clubs. That’s not to diminish the racism still out there in the hills of a place that voted in large numbers for a convict over Barack Obama in last year’s democratic primary. But still — points to the producers for showing the hug. Points taken away for letting the fight develop in the first place with the gasoline of MTV cameras splashed on the initial confrontation.
7. SCHOOL’S OUT FOR SUMMER: Apparently, not a one of these kids goes to school. That’s cool. Either that, or the local school system was not hip to the idea of filming a monster dump truck roaring onto school property, filled with bare-boobed students sloshing around in the bed, washing off the water from all the ‘mudding’ they were doing that weekend.
8. IN MUD WE TRUST: There’s a lot of mud in ‘Buckwild” and more to come, judging from the trailer. There IS a lot of mud in West Virginia, I will grant you that. And Mud Bogs are quite popular, come summertime and the country fairs and festival circuit heats up as trucks with wheels the size of Wilt Chamberlain try to get through lakes of mud. I myself have never gone mudding, though am willing to add it to my bucket list. It’s just that, well, it seems another one of those gleams in the eye of our brilliant MTV producer: ‘Hmmm… West Virginia. Hills. Dirt. Mud. We need LOTS of mud in this show to accurately depict the close relationship these children of the mountains bear to the land of their people, how in their return to mud, they are returning to the liquid source of their strength, rooted as it in Gaia, the spirit of the earth, in its most fluid form …”
I’m just guessing here.
9. FAVORITE TWEET: This one comes from the native Sissonvillianne mentioned above, who live-tweeted the show from the Cellar: “I don’t know about you, but I’ve never ridden a bulldozer and called it a sissonville roller coaster.” And a runner-up: “I know that guy’s accent is thick, but it sounds so much like home.”
10. WHAT DID YOU REALLY THINK? Show’s entertaining. That’s what they were going for. Is it a disgrace to the state? What does it matter? I think people are long since on to reality TV. And no outraged senator is ever going to change the mindset of someone full-up on the usual tired West Virginia stereotypes. “Buckwild” will probably drive a few tourists this way. Perhaps entrepreneurs quick on the uptake might consider a chain of mudder theme parks.
Some foreshadowing: one scene takes place at the club Rehab, which is actually in Huntington. I forecast that at least several members of the cast are going to end up there — not the club Rehab, the lower case kind. They will have been helped along by producers playing to their own interests — their bar tab and taste in after-hour pick-ups — and not the interests of these young West Virginians.
But that said, several of these kids are now embarking on 15 minutes of fame they would never otherwise have had, much less a paycheck bigger than the one they might have gotten at the local Sonic, serving limeaids and cheeseburgers. Of course, they did have to show pixilated ta-tas and fight red-haired people of another color on national TV to get to where they are today. More power to them, I guess.
And seriously: good fortune to you in staying in Rehab, the club, and out of rehab, where fucked-up lives go to be straightened out. MTV will be more than happy to drag you through the mud. I believe that is the point of the show.
Survive it and prosper. That’ll show ‘em.
And us. That’s there’s life in the hills of West Virginia after mudding.
~ Douglas Imbrogno | jan. 4. 2013 | westvirginiaville.com
For a roundup of “Buckwild” tweet reactions, check out the hashtag: #buckwild
Here is a Charleston Gazette next-day “Buckwild” reaction piece:
Here is a Charleston Daily Mail roundup of social media reactions by Zack Harold: