Shore-ing Up Reality TV

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With the success of MTV’s Jersey Shore, it was only a matter of time before reality show makers scoped out the other 49 states to determine what sort of regionally stereotypic, debauched twentysomethings might be exploited for a reality show.

Alas, it seems they’ve had to cross Alabama off the list—at least temporarily.

Jodi Redmond had a concept all plotted out for a reality show based in Gulf Shores, Ala. Her proposed title, Redneck Riviera, said it all.

“Do you drink sweet tea, talk endlessly about NASCAR, sport a rebel flag (on your bikini or jacked-up pickup truck), listen to loud country and/or Southern rock, or enjoy walking around shirtless or in daisy dukes?” a web-based casting call said. “Do you consider ‘liberal’ a dirty word?”

The show, according to its website (tagline: “This ain’t no regular shore!”), was looking for folks who thought a perfect vacation consisted of “Miller beer by the case,” “watching bikini bull-riding contests” and, of course, the obligatory “partying and dancing the night away.”

Unfortunately for Redmond, Gulf Shores politicians weren’t too thrilled with the show’s concept and unanimously passed a law that would give them the right to deny permits for shows deemed … problematic.

“I don’t think it would be welcome,” Linda Whitlock, president and CEO of the Alabama Gulf Coast Area Chamber of Commerce, tells ABC News. “This area, this community of Alabama, has worked very hard, for many, many years to erase the image of the Redneck Riviera.”

Redmond says Gulf Shores has it all wrong: She’s not just going to stick a bunch of young adults in a beach house and poke fun at them (even though the website says that the stars of the show will spend two months “living in an all-expense paid beach house”). “I prefer not to make junk,” she tells ABC.

And P. Kenneth Hershey, mayor of Seaside Heights, N.J.,—season-one locale for Jersey Shore—thinks Gulf Shores should reconsider. “It gave us a couple millions worth of publicity—at least,” he says to ABC.

I get the reasoning: While Jersey Shore is salacious, offensive and has all the redemptive value of a lint ball, money talks. And when the economy is struggling, sometimes it screams. Lots of towns might be tempted to become television’s version of a circus freak show to bring in a little extra cash. “You’re going to pay me how much to act like an idiot?” some reality show participants might gasp. “Your show’s going to bring how much to our town, just to trash its reputation?” civic leaders might gape. Lest we get too judgmental, let’s acknowledge, at least, the real temptation behind doing such shows.

So, with that, I’d like to invite MTV to come and film me for a while, in the crazy-wild confines of Colorado Springs—home of parks, narrow bike paths and thousands of mid-priced chain restaurants. I’d be perfect, really: I’ve already got Jersey Shores‘ “gym-tan-laundry” mantra down—well, except for the gym and tan part—and I will surely thrill MTV’s teeming masses of young viewers with my adventurous, freewheeling lifestyle, in which I type. And then type some more. And then spin in my chair. And go back to typing. And if I’m feeling really hedonistic when I leave work, I go and grab some … Chinese food!

Sounds like a ratings winner, don’t you think?

Who wrote this?

Paul Asay has been writing for Plugged In since 2007 and loves superheroes and finding God in unexpected places. In addition, Paul has also written several books, with his newest—Burning Bush 2.0—recently published by Abingdon Press. When Paul’s not reviewing movies, he hikes with his wife, Wendy, runs marathons with his grown kids, Colin and Emily, and beats back unruly houseplants. Follow him on Twitter @AsayPaul.

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