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Beverly Hillbillies, Redux!
August 28, 2002 9:17 PM   Subscribe

Beverly Hillbillies, Redux! No... not a new movie, but a reality series under development by the shiny and shimmering Tiffany Network. CBS scouts are scouring for a "rural, rustically telegenic" family to be whisked to a brand new home in Beverly Hills, and have a life of luxury bestowed upon them for a period of a year... cameras following them all the way. Crass exploitation of the poor when the gap between rich and poor gets larger and larger? Fun idea to see what happens when someone's dreams come true? Somewhere in the middle? What do people think?
posted by tittergrrl (33 comments total)

 
A lucky family gets a dream vacation for a year, CBS gets a [possible] hit. Nobody loses.

Far better idea than the Anna Nicole show. It'd be fine if they'd stop flooding ads of her everywhere, punishing those who enjoy watching quality television such as Wild On: My Pants. She makes my brain drip out of my ears.
posted by Stan Chin at 9:27 PM on August 28, 2002


Sounds eerily like Run, Ronnie Run.

And Rustically is actually a word. Go figure.
posted by destro at 9:31 PM on August 28, 2002


i don't think i would do it if i had kids, knowing they had to give it up at the end of the year.
posted by o2b at 9:32 PM on August 28, 2002


destro: so is rustication, which sounds like something naught you do to yourself.
posted by slipperywhenwet at 9:56 PM on August 28, 2002


Wait... undeserving morons placed in a mansion and given unparalleled corporate-endorsed priveledge and the ability to live off that noteritey for the rest of their lives just because they were carefully screened as suitable for a television camera?

Ummm... I hated that the first eleven times when it was called The Real World.

And should it be the true extreme we're thinking here, I'd love to see if CBS actually decides to show us the emotional trauma of picking poor people to live in a mansion for a year then cutting them off when the season ends. For the second season, why not film someone giving a small child a puppy then taking it away? Fun viewing for all!

Has God come to kill us all yet? Hearing about shows like this make me look at my watch and wonder what the hell's taking so long.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 10:27 PM on August 28, 2002


PBS did just the opposite a while ago with The Frontier House. Two middle class and a upper middle class family were picked to live in the wilds of Montana in much the same way as did the original settlers of the area. The series was tastefully done and very compelling, and even managed to subtlety make a commentary about modern American society and class.
posted by TskTsk at 10:50 PM on August 28, 2002


Actually, I'd kinda like to see the opposite. Put some of those smug network pinheads into a wooden shack in the Ozarks.
posted by RavinDave at 10:57 PM on August 28, 2002


"some of those smug network pinheads": Another finely-argued demolition of the culture of the spectacle.

Which "pinheads," precisely? Name names, dammit, and tell me how and why they're pinheads, or let it be.

Far be it from me to defend the American television networks, or even any given person who works for one, but no one is well-served when such blanket invective is allowed to substitute for a meaningful viewpoint with a reasoned underpinning.
posted by adamgreenfield at 12:49 AM on August 29, 2002


How about the pinheads who came up with the idea for this show?
posted by bingo at 2:03 AM on August 29, 2002


Evidently you remain blissfully ignorant of the glut of "Jerry Springer" meets "Realworld" crapolathons that beset the rest of us. Though perhaps there is nothing wrong with the general format in and of itself, in MANY cases the producers and network yes-men go out of their way to compile a roster of creepy, seedy, slimey, selfish, malicious, boorish and downright stupid people. Some work from pre-defined lists of stereo-types (we'll get the prissy gay guy, put him with the gruff southern bigot, toss in a self-centered jock and alcoholic teeny-bopper ... stand back and let the sparks fly). Their cynical intent is clear; they present these misfits as a representative cross-section of society (if I really believed that, I'd walk in front of a bus) and set them up to be mocked by the general public in a sort of electronic version of Coliseum.

What names? "Arnold Shapiro" and "Mark Burnett" leap to mind. I don't pay enough attention to the producers of the bazillion "reality" dating shows to even care who's responsible, but I suspect I could do a quick google search if you are collecting names.
posted by RavinDave at 2:31 AM on August 29, 2002


I'll give you a pinhead: "Ghen Maynard". He's the CBS VP of "alternative programming" who, in a different Yahoo! piece, actually mused, "Imagine the episode where they have to interview maids." Oh yes! Wouldn't that be so funny! Bring in a poor family and laugh at them for not knowing how to properly choose servants. That's just comedy gold, I tell you.

Sarcasm aside, I find this concept unbelievably offensive. Why is it okay to make fun of "hillbillies"? Because we're so much wealthier and smarter than them? Laugh at Anna Nicole all you want; she's made a choice and that's fine. But to entice a poor family (and let's be honest, though there are lots of "normal" families in Kentucky, Maynard has made it abundantly clear that they're looking for one of the "dirt poor and inbred" variety) with the promise of being on television only to mock them is exploitative and wrong. Yes, even if they know up front that's what they're signing on for. Just because desperate people are willing to debase themselves doesn't mean we should participate.

Now back to the sarcasm... I've got some other ideas for shows Maynard might be interested in. How about "The Real Jeffersons"? We could get a really poor, living-in-the-ghetto L.A. black family and move them into a big house in the Midwestern suburbs. Imagine the hilarity when they don't know how to maintain the yard! I bet they won't even have an SUV! Hey, what if they try to buy crack from their next door neighbor? I smell a sweeps victory!
posted by web-goddess at 2:40 AM on August 29, 2002


Was this same show on MTV the other day? I think it was calleed "Cribs."
posted by aznblader at 2:51 AM on August 29, 2002


Two years ago PBS ran a British reality show which made me stop saying that all reality TV is stupid and boring. The show's name was The 1900 House, and the premise was that a family moved to a house in London and had to live like British middle class did in the year 1900.

We've all read about what life was like back then, but seeing this family having to cope with spending one full day a week manually washing clothes, cleaning the house by spreading saw dust and sweeping it up, cooking on a wood-fired stove, etc really showed you what it was like. And how happy we should be that we live now, and not then :)
posted by Triplanetary at 3:29 AM on August 29, 2002


This annoys me on two counts:

1) As a filmmaker and writer, I am nearly sick to death of studio execs that want to edge out writers and actors in the name of saving money, ala "reality TV".

2) Dammit... I LOVED the Beverly Hillbillies! How DARE they make the comparison and sully my memory of Uncle Jed!
posted by FilmMaker at 3:32 AM on August 29, 2002


So are you a filmmaker then?
posted by yerfatma at 4:45 AM on August 29, 2002


This poor family is going to come to nice sunny So. Cal. to be filmed on TV like everyday is Christmas. Then when it is all over, their New Year's party will be the realization that they are poor. I don't think they will be celebrating at the end.
posted by thomcatspike at 5:18 AM on August 29, 2002


Speaking as another Appalachian American, I don't resent it at all. If it's done right, it could be kind of fun. I have a feeling that the "hillbillies" will come out looking like pretty solid folks. The only problem I see is that most of the people I know back home who fit the bill live there by choice. It may take more than promises of a year in a mansion to get them to move to the big city.
posted by norm29 at 5:33 AM on August 29, 2002


Bah, I'd rather see a remake of "Sanford and Son". Take the family of a corporate CEO and take everything away.

i think i hear my phone ringing...
posted by jbelshaw at 5:48 AM on August 29, 2002


The thing with "reality shows is that they aren't real, yet people like to think they are. (Just like network news....j/k)

Even 1900 House and Frontier House couldn't show what life was "really" like, because the people who actually lived in those eras:

a. grew up with a skills and knowledge base to deal with their daily tasks. Life could still be hard, but it is less so when you actually know what you are doing.

b. didn't have life of modern convenience to miss, or the stress of the constant tv cameras.

Just my $0.02.
posted by kayjay at 6:05 AM on August 29, 2002


Don't forget that the Beverley Hillbillies was only one of a series of "hick coms" CBS foisted onto the public in the 60s. Imagine, if the "Real Beverley Hillbillies" is a hit how much fun it would be to see, say, the "Real Green Acres". I mean, you do get a hint of what that could be like every time the press covers one of Dubya's trips "back home to the ranch," but I'm just imagining some of the women whose picture regulalry appear in Women's Wear Daily shopping for sweat pants and T-shirts at a small town Wal-Mart...
posted by JollyWanker at 6:09 AM on August 29, 2002


As you might have guessed from my outburst, I'm an "Appalachian American" too. You're right, norm29, if done correctly it could be really good. I just have a lot less faith in free-to-air network executives. That article you linked certainly painted it in a better light than the earlier Yahoo! pieces. It was that crack Maynard made about interviewing maids that pushed me over the edge. I'd love to see a show about a solid Appalachian family pointing out the excesses of Hollywood. I'm just worried that it'll turn out more "Anna Nicole" than "1900 House".

On preview: kayjay, don't forget to add the fact that they could always leave the show if they wanted and they knew that their lives were never in danger. I have a feeling that folks in REAL 1930's houses would have appreciated that advantage.
posted by web-goddess at 6:13 AM on August 29, 2002


These "people just being people" reality shows are getting boring. I think we need to start moving up to some Running Man -type programming.
posted by stifford at 6:25 AM on August 29, 2002


Where do you audition? I ain't from the Appalachians, but me and my lower-middleclass redneck family from Alabama would make for some damn funny television.
posted by puddsharp at 6:28 AM on August 29, 2002


Wait... undeserving morons placed in a mansion and given unparalleled corporate-endorsed priveledge and the ability to live off that noteritey for the rest of their lives just because they were carefully screened as suitable for a television camera?

Ummm... I hated that the first eleven times when it was called The Real World.


I hated that the last few times we've called it "being the president".

(yes this is a cheapshot, but at least a non-partisan one)
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 6:38 AM on August 29, 2002


Damn you, Pink, you beat me to it.
posted by MrMoonPie at 7:43 AM on August 29, 2002


There, there.

*hands Mrmoonpie an RC cola to go with his nick*
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 7:47 AM on August 29, 2002


I wonder if most reality tv is the unholy spawn of Michael Apted's 7-Up series, started over four decades ago. Apted made a movie about the lives of 14 Brits when they were 7 years old, and makes another installment every 7 years. The most recent film was 42-Up. Fascinating study of class and gender in the UK. So compelling, yet in some ways even more cruel than this Hillbilly show that will take over a family's life for a year. Apted's series lasts for life.
posted by onlyconnect at 8:02 AM on August 29, 2002


"Good if done correctly" is what they want critics to buy into. Of course it won't be; Maynard's quote about having them interview maids is a good indicator of the sort of embarassing situations they'll subject these people to. Statements like this, or the producers' promise of "social commentary," are designed to make us feel good about laughing at people less fortunate than ourselves. The same sort of comments could be made about any of the previous reality TV shows, but excepting those done by PBS, they've never lived up to it, and instead have banked on exploitative scenarios and bald-faced stereotypes to boost ratings. After all, what would most Americans rather see: incisive social commentary or a bunch of hicks stumbling through a 9-course meal at a fancy restaurant?
posted by risenc at 8:35 AM on August 29, 2002


Re: PBS did just the opposite a while ago with The Frontier House.

History Television did something similar called Pioneer Quest (even the websites look the same). I thought this type of reality programming to be much more entertaining than all the Survivor-type stuff. The same producers also did Quest for the Bay, which was pretty good, too.
posted by drew_alley at 9:35 AM on August 29, 2002


I volunteer for the "REAL I Dream of Jeanie".
(Use your imagination!)
posted by HTuttle at 10:51 AM on August 29, 2002


I wonder if people who hate reality tv nevertheless like reading other people's blogs, because the two trends seem related to me. This chart of a person's (coincidentally a MiFi member) happiness across a 3 year period is what made me think of this. Blogging is a purer form of self-expression and more of an honest look into other people's lifes; reality tv can be more heavily manipulated and commercially suspect. (I'm personally fascinated by both.) But both are intimate windows into another person's world, available on a mass scale, that seem curiously modern. I can't really think of any precursors. Besides publishing your own journal, or someone else's. It's like we're living in an age of total, immediate curiousity over what other people's lives are like.
posted by onlyconnect at 11:20 AM on August 29, 2002


I think the producers would have to go out of their way to put the family in strange circumstances, because I can't imagine that in an age of television and telephone, any family, no matter how "rustic", would actually marvel over the wonders of Beverly Hills. I think they're expecting a lot of "hoo-wee, y'all got runnin water!" moments, but would that really happen? And if it did, would it happen for an entire year?
posted by Hildago at 2:48 PM on August 29, 2002


Postscript:

JollyWanker wrote: "if the 'Real Beverley Hillbillies' is a hit how much fun it would be to see, say, the 'Real Green Acres'.

***POOOO-OOOOF!!!*** Your wish is granted!

Incredible.

I see that several of us on this thread missed our true calling -- as Television execs. Good call, JollyWanker!
posted by RavinDave at 3:27 AM on August 30, 2002


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