Buckwild: TV Review

MTV's Buckwild Cast - H 2012

MTV's Buckwild Cast - H 2012

The series meets all low-bar expectations but fails to provide sufficient entertainment along the way.

MTV's hillbilly-sploitation show is shocking! (But only because it's a bore.)

The world didn't end in 2012, but something died within us all when the series Buckwild was conceived. 

The controversial new MTV show, the very idea for which already was ripped apart by this publication, follows a slew of wild, drunken West Virginians in their late teens and early 20s. The series takes over Jersey Shore's old time slot and has been called a cross between that show and TLC's Here Comes Honey Boo Boo.

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The comparison is incorrect, though: Buckwild is far worse than the sum of the others' parts. Not only is it another tired portrayal of Southern stereotypes, but it's also inexcusably poorly executed. The six girls and three boys (trouble is sure to brew with those odds) stumble through and stiffly carry out their force-fed cues. But it doesn't matter too much, since most of what they say is drowned out by jump cuts and montages set to peppy pop music that almost makes it seem like a dumptruck party would be worth participating in. Almost. Not really.

While the girls of the group act like they're on The Hills: Hillbilly Edition, the boys are constantly engaged in Jackass-type stunts that seem to prove definitively that a Darwinian thinning of the genetic pool is not a bad thing. "Almost all of my neighbors are my cousins!" Shain, the most gutturally thick-accented of the bunch, says proudly. He says he has to go into town to "get his flirt on." One would hope.

Shain actually has a job (hauling trash, which he loves), as do a few of the castmembers (such as working at the spark-plug plant), but that aspect is almost completely ignored in favor of cringeworthy, boring, manufactured drama within the group. Most confusing of all is the presence of Salwa, who is Bengali (though fully American-Southern), not because she is Bengali but because she's 23. This older group member teaches the younger ones wise ways, like how to jump off of a roof topless for $100, only to find the boys have no money. Naturally.

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In the first two of what will be a 12-episode series, the gang throws an "F the Neighborhood Party" and promptly gets evicted, moving locales to a huge, isolated house in the boondocks of the state (which surely wasn't a producer's ploy at all). Without the prying eyes and 911 calls of neighbors, the boys and girls live out the dream of most teenagers: to be away from parental supervision, soaked in alcohol and engaged in plenty of sex with rotating partners (in other people's beds, a key fighting point for Anna, who seems to love fighting in general. "That's so awkward," her friend Katie says unhelpfully). 

Buckwild is everything MTV wants, and it's everything people will expect -- which is exactly what makes it so useless. It adds nothing. It's not shocking, it's not interesting, and it's not quite crazy enough to become part of the zeitgeist. There's nothing about these young rednecks that is particular to West Virginia, either, as much as any other state would surely deny it. These are just kids gone wild (though no wilder than you'd find in any college town). The biggest problem is, we've seen it all before.