Jersey Shore is over.  The only thing left are a few references to Snooki and the Situation in his “situation.”

I can’t say I’ve ever actually watched an episode of Jersey Shore.  I don’t know the characters.  I can guess the storyline. Irresponsibility.  Bad choices. Alcohol. Sex.  Correct me if I’m wrong, but that pretty much sums it up, right?

Once Snooki ended up with child and had to become (somewhat) responsible, MTV had to look for a new group of irresponsible losers (despite spinoff Snooki and JWoww, which doesn’t quite attract the same crowd). Apparently, they had to look no further than West Virginia.

                                

Buckwild
premiered on January 3 in the timeslot formerly belonging to Jersey Shore.  A new year, a new show, and a whole new group of people to offend. The show focuses on a group of twentysomethings living in the small, West Virginia town of Sissonville.  Described as "an outrageous group of childhood friends from the rural foothills of West Virginia who love to dodge grown-up responsibilities,” the first two episodes brought drinking, fighting, swearing, sex and… muddin’. And the subsequent episodes fell right in line.

In similar fashion to Jersey Shore, the “reality” show paints a very distinct picture of the people of West Virginia (and therein lies the problem).  From showing trash on the side of the road to having a cast member describe exactly what a “holler” is, Sissonville isn’t portrayed as the ideal place to raise a family. In fact, parents are rarely seen in the show, except for the few occurrences in which a “dad” tells his son to wear a helmet while riding the four-wheeler up a vertical incline, or offers money to the person who rides the fake bull the longest.

Buckwild takes a step away from the big city to highlight country life.  The young adults are extremely resourceful, fashioning a dump truck into a swimming pool (ok, that part was pretty cool), and creating a super long slip and slide using a roll of plastic and a big hill. Though this seems like harmless fun, MTV does place a disclaimer as the show is coming on not to try any of the stunts shown (sure, that’s really convincing…).

So, essentially, it is a show highlighting the simplistic life. “I aint got no phone, no facebook. None of that internet stuff” boasts one cast member. I can totally get on board with that.

Recently, “redneck tv” has been on the rise.  Shows like Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, Swamp People and Duck Dynasty (especially the latter) have repeatedly topped ratings charts.  It only makes sense that MTV would follow the money.  Is Buckwild any different than shows like Duck Dynasty? If not, then why are senators calling for the cancellation of this show, yet the Dynasty lives on?

Let me start by saying I am a southerner.   Which is entirely different than saying I live in the south. You cannot add sugar packets to iced tea to make sweet tea.  It means any prediction of snow flurries requires a mad rush to the store for bread and milk.  And “y’all” is a completely acceptable term, no matter how many people you are referring to.  So, when I look at Buckwild, I’m not looking at it as though it’s an accurate portrayal of southern life.  I recognize that. I know that despite it being called a “reality” show, it isn’t reality at all.  Actually, it’s kinda like a train wreck or a really bad accident.  You don’t want to look at it, but for some reason, you can’t stop turning your head in that direction.

So, here’s the deal.  Buckwild is no different than any other typical MTV show in that it is full of alcohol, sex and language.  It seems like no one ever works, and the first time “work” is shown, it’s two girls sitting in a tanning salon.  The second time comes when two guys decide they need a summer job.  “Without goals and dreams, where you gonna go?” Tyler asks, talking about his lawn mowing business (which, btw, only lasted for one yard).

As an adult, I can look at this show and realize that ultimately, it’s a bunch of garbage. I know (and I inform my students) that shows like this aren’t reality.  Teen Mom Amber Portwood admitted to banking over $200,000 for a year with MTV.  So, it can only be assumed that these “stars” of Buckwild are bringing in some figures of their own, especially if the show garners the same type of fan base won over by Jersey Shore or the Teen Mom franchise. One former cast member (Jesse B), reported bringing in a little over $8,000 for his eight episodes, despite being edited out of all but one (the one where he was on the receiving end of a fist to the face).

But the question still lies.  Why is this show offensive, while Duck Dynasty is promoted as quality entertainment?  In fact, a quick google search will instantly bring up articles slamming Buckwild as “offensive,” while the same process for the Robertson clan takes digging through several pages to even find a hint of disdain.

Similarities: Southern accents. Check.  Subtitles for those who can’t understand the southern accents. Check. Facial hair. Check.  Hunting (or, rather, huntin’). Check.  Guns. Check. Trucks. Check.

But, that’s about as far as it goes. One 20 minute episode of Buckwild brought 46 bleeped out words, with another 11 instances of h***, d***, a**, s*** and b**** (which are not edited). In addition, the episode included one wet t-shirt incident, three nudity incidents, a bloody fight, more than five characters smoking, and more than 10 shots of alcohol use (including one by a cast member under the age of 21). A following episode shows what appears to be someone washing their dirty laundry in the creek and a large, topless hairy man using a weed eater. And we’re not supposed to get a bad idea about West Virginia?

On the other hand, to catch an episode of Duck Dynasty is actually, in many ways, to be encouraged.  Yes, you see family squabbles.  But, you also see the redemption that comes with forgiveness.  You see men, married to their first wives, working (though they make it seem so fun it hardly looks like work), and honoring the idea of family. Of hard work.  You see meals together, around a table rather than in front of a television, and hear heartfelt thanks for all the many blessings they have received.

                            

Buckwild
is, well, it’s not Duck Dynasty.

Though many of the cast members are college graduates, and some even hold down a full time job, much of that gets shoved to the back burner as there are repeated hook-ups, rough parties, hangovers, fist fights and sex.

And that’s what is so frustrating about Buckwild.  It is so far from reality, in many ways, that it may actually become the reality of many of my students.  Let’s be honest.  East Tennessee may not be West Virginia, but when I watch Buckwild, I see my students.  I see the same small-town, never-gonna-get-outta-here mentality.  And I worry about what they see when they watch this. Sure, the kids look like they are having fun, but eight episodes in and I have yet to see the consequences of their many bad choices.  I have yet to see one end up with an STD.  Or one of the girls end up pregnant. Or a DUI (though one cast member does reference a DUI when he is saying good bye to his truck).

I’m not going to sit here and say that teens will drink and have sex because of the show Buckwild. The show didn’t start the fire, but is definitely fuel.  But I will say that they are less likely to think about consequences because of the show.

And when our students don’t see those consequences, they do hold on to a false sense of reality.  “It won’t happen to me,” they say.  And that false reality melts away into a harsh, painful truth when that pregnancy test is positive, or the STD is viral, or a life is lost because of drunk driving.

Hollywood is has taken a hard hit lately. People are firing from every direction and every side of the aisle about the influence of violent media.  And that influence is very strong.  But why aren’t we just as passionate about the influence that glorifying sex and alcohol use has on our children?  Why will we fight one battle with legislation and laws and press conferences, but merely shrug off the other? The consequences of both are devastating, and our children are being lied to.  But are you going to step up and tell the truth, or are you going to tune in for the next episode?