There are many reality show genres, and they all bring their own special brand of insanity. The "rich and out of touch" genre presents the lives of young models who would eat the poor if someone told them that it would strengthen their Instagram brand. The "trapped and making out in a house" genre shows us that you shouldn't greet someone unless you're ready to offer them mouth herpes. And the "buff people competing" genre is a wonderful look into the joys of growth hormones.
But the most insane of these is the "rednecks doing stuff" genre. Shows like Party Down South, Southern Charm, Redneck Island, and Duck Dynasty paint the South as a free-for-all where the drinking of light beer is constantly and violently accompanied by nuggets of front-porch wisdom. Their insanity deserves to be documented, so that our descendants can look back on us and figure out exactly how we failed them.
5They Have No Clue What Genre They Want To Be
Redneck reality shows are not bound by the confines of the other genres I just listed. It would seem out of place in The Real World if a character suddenly announced that they could create copious homemade explosives. The Bachelor would probably cut out the scene in which a contestant went on a minute-long rant about how goddamn great South Carolina is. But no one told the redneck reality shows about any of these things. And if someone did, they were promptly pushed out of the back of a moving truck.
In the same way that "rednecks" are a loosely defined group of people who can range from "person with a country accent" to "angered swamp man with a hatred of teeth and a love of machetes," depending on who you ask, the redneck reality show is a haphazard collection of themes and events all slapped together under the "REDNECK" banner. Each episode appears to cycle through scenes like they're being edited based on the movement of some kind of Southeast U.S. Stereotype roulette wheel. Normal reality shows are usually held together by the basic premise of "What will happen to these strangers when you put them in this MTV terrarium?" But redneck reality shows barely ever get that far. They survive on the idea that rednecks doing stuff is inherently worth watching because they're rednecks and, well ... they're rednecks.
Pixabay Public Domain
"I demand nine seasons of this. Also, that bucket is filled with whiskey."
Thus, instead of having one succinct story, you get a thousand of them all crammed together. Drinking montages are followed by incomprehensible extreme sports montages, and these are succeeded by more drinking montages which feature making out as a treat for all the viewers who made it that far. One of the most famous shows of the genre, Party Down South, usually showed the Sun rising up and going down to signify the passage of time, but if you put a gun to my head and asked me to tell you how long something lasted in that show, I would weep Coors tears until you put me out of my misery.
He may still be funneling that beer. We will never truly know.
The redneck reality show is a pacing nightmare, because unless you get something specifically challenge-based, like the "Stone Cold" Steve Austin-hosted Redneck Island, it's just a blur of activities that are "redneck" because no one can quit shouting that they're redneck at you. And when I say "no one can quit," I mean it with every fiber of stupid being ...
4It All Has To Tie Back Into Redneckisms (Which Aren't Followed)
We usually hold "redneck" stuff to be self-evident. That's because we've been constantly told that the core tenet of being a redneck is just doing what you like to do and not being bothered when other people don't understand it. Or you'd think it was that until you had it yelled at you by every person and T-shirt on the shows, and by all of the people in media that have ever used "redneck" as a descriptor instead of forming an interesting personality. Redneck reality shows love to preach this, among other "Praise God and pass the ammunition" colloquialisms. And the best part about these proclamations is that they're usually refuted within the next two minutes.
Jersey Shore always had cast members who would explain their actions with the rationale of "That's how we do it in JERSEY," sort of like how I yell "That's how we do it in GAMESTOP!" whenever I get caught selling moonshine out of a backpack to eighth-graders. But even at its that's-how-we-do-it-in-Jerseyist, the mentality was never pushed upon viewers as both a way of life and a righteous perch as hard as "The Southern way is the right way!" is pushed in shows like Gainesville or Buckwild. They excel at being guilty pleasure entertainment, but they're the worst Sunday School teachers in the world.
"It is us, your moral compasses."
Take a look at something like Southern Charm, which is set in Charleston, South Carolina. While it differentiates itself on the surface from other redneck shows by adding a few more sleeves, it still features the drinking mishaps and the incessant "We do it different down here" shit that lands it firmly in the genre. For every bit of "We are Southern gentlemen and we work hard to be where we are!" you get a nice helping of people ruining their own lives, because that kind of wisdom is only dished out when it serves them best.
"Here's to sleeping with everything."
If a male character in the aforementioned Gainesville told another male character that he wasn't going to try to hook up with the second character's ex out of respect for some redneck anti-boner bro law, that ex was gonna be pantsless before the next commercial break. Big Tips Texas sang the gospel of the importance of redneck sisterhood in between slaps, and Party Down South loved to set up its dominoes in a pattern of "We're from the South. We just like to relax and have fun!" and then knock them all over with clumsy barroom altercations. And this reaction was primarily fueled by alcohol, because if redneck reality shows have given us any real information, it's that ...