"Buckwild," MTV's new reality series that is supposed to replace the pop culture phenomenon "Jersey Shore," made its debut last week to an audience of 2.5 million viewers. The show, which features young adults in West Virginia going "buckwild" during the summer, has been denounced by U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, fellow Mountaineers and now TV critics.
The picture it paints of our Mountain State and its youthful inhabitants is far removed from the reality so many of us West Virginians know and love when it comes to our homeland. This is no different than what New Jerseyans must have experienced when "Jersey Shore" fever hit the nation. Sure, we all may be embarrassed, but any intelligent person sees this type of show for what it is: mindless drivel that is highly exploitative of all involved.
The reality is reality shows have very little that's real about them. Often accused of being scripted and focusing on a microscopic segment of the population, these shows misrepresent the core demographic they are supposed to embody. Look at the "Real Housewives" franchise. None of those shows truly showcase life in New York, California or the other states in which these series are filmed.
And "Buckwild" isn't a real snapshot of life in West Virginia or an accurate portrayal of its people. It's Hollywood fiction, and it fails to entertain on any significant level. If anything, the show is mundane, boring and not at all as horrible as so many people feared.
Instead, "Buckwild" has managed to accomplish something positive - despite its best efforts to the contrary. Millions across this country now know West Virginia is its own state. CNN focused on this fact as part of its coverage of the show.
That means "Buckwild" did what educators across the U.S. have failed to do for generations - successfully teach history and geography. It's sad it took trash TV to differentiate West Virginia from Virginia, a state from which we seceded in 1863.
Wow, nearly 150 years later and the rest of the country finally gets it, yet Mountaineers are the ones who are portrayed as being ignorant.
Maybe we West Virginians can simply laugh off "Buckwild" for the farce that it is and enjoy watching viewers from around the country have other revelations about our state. We've been the butt of jokes for years, and now the tables are turned for us to enjoy a lighthearted chuckle as this show makes headlines during its 15 minutes of fame.
After all, as the saying goes, "He who laughs last, laughs best."