Okay so I don't watch a lot of television and about the only time I blog about things on TV is when a debate is on, but, this has been in the back of my mind for a few weeks now. There seems to be a rash of new reality series on TV in which the main purpose seems to be to make people in my state look like backwoods, ignorant hillbillies. A couple of weeks ago CMT premiered two shows: Bayou Billionaires and My Big Redneck Vacation.
I watched the premier of each of those. Now, Bayou Billionaires is going to feature my friend Milly Rose in a couple of episodes (she's appraising their antiques) and Milly swears these are really nice people. In the one episode I saw, they did in fact seem to be pretty normal. The show features a family that has hit big money in the Haynesville shale. CMT, for their part, puts them in scenarios that make them seem ridiculous (like going to join the country club), however, I've only watched one episode. I'll reserve judgment.
Same thing with Redneck vacation. CMT describes it this way:
From the creators of My Big Redneck Wedding comes a new series chronicling the adventures of one countrified, loud-mouthed family from the swamps of Louisiana as they take over a $4 million house in the Hamptons of New York. Watch as this mud-slidin', four-wheelin', beer-slingin', dixie-whistlin' crew learns how to live the high-life and show them Yankees how the South gets down. From polo lessons to wine-tasting to a truly Hamptons nuptial, this rowdy bunch is in for a summer they'll never forget on My Big Redneck Vacation.
In the episode I saw, the ladies were in a store in the Hamptons asking the butcher for "nutria rat" for their dinner. Seriously? C'mon.
To me, Swamp People is different. Series star Troy Landry has become a cult icon already and the stars make appearances all over the country. Over 750,000 people "like" their page on Facebook. Troy and his son Jacob were on Fox News this morning promoting the new season.
What Mr. SIGIS and I like about Swamp People is that the show teaches about the culture of the people in south Louisiana that live this way of life. They are family oriented and they live off the land. These people aren't hunting alligators for sport or to make trophys. It's a way of life.
The season is only open for about a month (in September). It is strictly regulated and you must have a license to hunt; you are granted only so many tags and once you've filled your tags, you're done. The purpose of the alligator program is primarily species protection and control:
The goals of the Department's alligator program are to manage and conserve Louisiana's alligators as part of the state's wetland ecosystem, provide benefits to the species, its habitat and the other species of fish and wildlife associated with alligators. The basic philosophy was to develop a sustained use management program which, through regulated harvest, would provide long term benefits to the survival of the species, maintain its habitats, and provide significant economic benefits to landowners, alligator farmers and alligator hunters.
The show often highlights the family gatherings of the principal characters - children, grand children, and even great-grand children. Generations of families living the only kind of life they've ever known and making a living off the land. They teach the kids solid family values.
While some might complain that Swamp People makes Louisiana people look ignorant, I'd say just the opposite. I'd suggest looking at the life lessons and the culture the show displays rather than the "brutality" of shooting alligators. It's so much more than that and they are lessons everyone could use.
The series premiers tonight at 9 ET, 8:00 SIGIS time on The History Channel.