U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., penned an open letter to MTV President Stephen K. Friedman asking him to cancel the forthcoming reality-television series “Buckwild” because of its depiction of West Virginians.
"As a proud West Virginian, I am writing to formally request that you put a stop to the travesty called 'Buckwild,'" Manchin wrote in his letter. "As a U.S. Senator, I am repulsed at this business venture, where some Americans are making money off of the poor decisions of our youth."
Manchin added: "I hope that as you consider your decision, that you would consider your own state, your own community and your own children. Would you try to portray them in this light?"
“Buckwild” has been described in the media as either the “Jersey Shore of Appalachia" or the “Jersey Shore of West Virginia.” The program will follow the antics of several teenagers in rural West Virginia, and it will launch with a 10-episode season.
Manchin said in his letter he believes the show’s focus on the absurd behavior of the teenagers is insulting to West Virginia’s culture and residents.
"Instead of showcasing the beauty of our people and our state, you preyed on young people, coaxed them into displaying shameful behavior -- and now you are profiting from it," Manchin said. "That is just wrong."
While Manchin believes “Buckwild” is an insult to the people and culture of West Virginia, executive producer John Stevens of Zoo Productions, said he thinks the show is much more life-affirming than the senator gives it credit for being.
“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.”
According to the executive producer: “It’s quite the opposite of everything else on TV. These kids aren’t hooked into the Internet. They don’t do Facebook. [One of them] doesn’t even have a cellphone. The parents have to go find in the woods when I call to find him. He’s usually out there on his ATV and motorcycle. That’s their idea of fun. That’s what so refreshing ... One kid said, ‘We don’t have a roller coaster,’ so he jumps in a front[-end] loader and his friend swings him 20 feet up in the air for thrills.”
“Buckwild” premieres on MTV on Jan. 3 in the time slot formerly occupied by “Jersey Shore.” Watch a trailer for the show below and decide for yourself.