Manchin wants MTV's 'Buckwild' axed
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., wants MTV to cancel the Kanawha County-based reality show "Buckwild" that's set to air early next year.
Manchin's office said Friday that he sent a letter to the president of the network saying the show profits off "poor decisions of our youth."
The senator also said the show, scheduled to begin airing Jan. 3, plays to ugly, inaccurate stereotypes about the people of West Virginia.
The network ordered 12 episodes of the show last fall, and a trailer shows the cast drinking and swearing, four-wheeling and fighting, even filling a dump truck with water and using it as a swimming pool. It was shot in Sissonville and Charleston.
An MTV spokeswoman said Friday that the network had no comment.
However, Entertainment Weekly talked to 'Buckwild' producer John Stevens, who said the show "celebrates the youths in a very positive way." Viewers, he told the magazine, will "watch the show and wish they could be them.
"It's not like looking at a train wreck," Stevens told Entertainment Weekly. "That's not what it is. That's the part I'm really excited about. There is a certain coolness to it. It's different than a lot of the stuff that has been produced. I think it's going to get people talking and it might change people's perspectives. These kids are totally wild and carefree. It will be very refreshing to the MTV audience."
Manchin is not alone in his concern for how the show might portray West Virginia.
When the trailer was released late last month, Charleston Convention and Visitor's Bureau President and CEO Alisa Bailey told the Gazette-Mail it was "just most unfortunate."
The West Virginia Film Office, which can offer tax credits of up to 31 percent to film and TV productions in the state, denied the credits over concerns about negative portrayals of state residents.
Bailey had said these kinds of reality shows tend to sensationalize and exaggerate, and she hopes people watching "Buckwild" at home will not view it as how West Virginians really live.
Stevens told Entertainment Weekly that the show's appeal "comes from the fact these teenagers are free from technology and the pull of social media."
Melissa Whitman, a resident of Beechwood Drive in South Charleston, told the Gazette-Mail this week that several scenes for "Buckwild" were shot last spring in and around a yellow house just across the street.
For a reality show, a lot of the filming looked faked, she said, adding that she watched the cast and crew reshoot and tweak scenes.
"Of course it was made up," she said. "All of this was coaxed, coerced, scripted or whatever."
The show will fill the timeslot that had been held by "Jersey Shore."