MTV’s latest reality show Buckwild premiered Thursday evening with episodes one and two airing in tandem to relative ratings success.
For those yet to watch the premiere, Buckwild is a reality show about a group of outgoing friends in their early 20s from West Virginia who are ostensibly coached and the scenes heavily-edited to produce a result that is materially negligibly different from its predecessor, Jersey Shore. The young fan base seems to relate to the show already, while some of those outside the demo find it divisive with The Hollywood Reporter calling the show “inexcusably poorly executed” and Variety calling it simply “Awful.”
Of the inescapable comparisons to Jersey Shore, Buckwild’s Shae Bradley (top, far left) says the cast is in no way shaming their home town nor is their show reductive. However, there are some more similarities. For example, upon its debut in 2009, Jersey Shore faced criticisms for its cultural stereotypes about Italian and Sicilian Americans and the exaggerated connotations that come along with them; there was also apprehension about the show’s depiction of the shore itself. And ahead of this week’s Buckwild premiere, West Virginia senator Joe Manchin bemoaned of MTV: “You preyed on young people, coaxed them into displaying shameful behavior and now you are profiting from it.” West Virginia Division of Tourism dismissed the West Virginian archetypes as arcane in their own statement: “While some reality television programming is designed to excite, entice and generally entertain viewers, these types of programs tend to represent an extremely small segment of a population. This program does not represent our state or our citizens.”
And then there’s the question of ratings. Buckwild season one episode one earned 2.4 million viewers on January 3, 2013 compared to the season one episode one premiere of Jersey Shore that earned only 1.38 million viewers December 3, 2009 in the same timeslot. Deadline.com notes that Jersey Shore peaked in season three and four though, regularly getting nearly nine million viewers per episode. Which declined thereafter until the final episode which earned only 3.13 million viewers.