Reality Check: 'Buckwild' gets wild and crazy in W.Va.

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We would be remiss -- but probably performing a kindness -- to not mention Thursday's debut of the new MTV reality show that attempts to do for rural kids in West Virginia what "Jersey Shore" did for Guidos and Guidettes: in short, make stars of a bunch of dopey, drunken stereotypes.

"Buckwild" ramps up the stupid by adding an element of real danger. Whether they're doing back flips off the roof into a makeshift dump truck swimming pool or sailing along back roads "mudding" in the open bed of a pickup, it's obvious someone is going to end up hurt.

In fact MTV runs a disclaimer at the beginning of the episode that essentially says "These people are idiots. Don't be an idiot by copying them." Still, one has to have a grudging admiration for the "MacGyver" element to some of the schemes.

Star Shain Gandee, whose drawl is so thick it's likely the network might have to resort to subtitles, a la "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo," recently reacted to criticism from West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin III and others with this: "All them old people in West Virginia cannot go back and say they did not do all that stupid stuff, because if they did, they're lyin'."

Charleston, W.Va., is all bright lights, big city next to the town of Sissonville. The latter, an unincorporated town of less than 4,500 about 10 miles north up Interstate 77 from Charleston, the state capital, is portrayed as a playground for this group of 20-somethings.

Future episodes reportedly show them in a more favorable lights; after all, the girls can't get evicted from their house every week for holding loud, boozy parties. Half-hour shows begin next week, every Thursday at 10 p.m.

Dance Moms are back

Season 3 of the Pittsburgh-based "Dance Moms" kicked off with a glitzy event at the Rivers Casino earlier this week. Besides the first episode, there was a "Smoke Before the Fire" televised special that was as outspoken and catty as anything preceding it.

In short, it's going to be a bumpy ride. The Lifetime show airs 9 p.m. Tuesdays.

Abby Lee Miller, the Reign Dance Productions owner of her eponymous studio in Penn Hills, said in a private interview at the casino that she has a problem with the Moms setting up "meet-and-greet" events.

"They're going around the country, selling their children," she said. "It's called 'meet-and-greets,' but they don't really understand what a meet-and-greet is. Usually, it's what happens after a show, and you've made special arrangement to go backstage after a show, which you've bought a ticket for."

Singling out Christi Lukasiak and her daughter, Chloe, Ms Miller said, "She's selling tickets and it's literally her and Chloe sitting at a table. And it's like, $49.99, $89.99..."

The topic came up at the "Smoke Before the Fire" panel, where Ms. Lukasiak responded that they were doing nothing of the kind.

The season opener was broadcast on New Year's Day on big screens in the ballroom of the Rivers Casino, where the Moms and Ms. Miller were seeing it for the first time. At one point when Ms. Miller made a remark about Kelly Hyland's daughters, Brooke and Paige -- who were pulled from the team by their mother at the end of Season 2 -- Ms. Hyland stood up and flipped the bird at the screen.

But there were mutual guffaws when the action turned to Cathy Nesbitt-Stein, who runs a rival dance studio in Canton, Ohio. It was a Season 1 conceit that a woman who already runs a dance studio in Ohio would be driving to Pittsburgh on a regular basis for dance classes.

This didn't last long, and the show focused instead on a rivalry between the Penn Hills group and Ms. Nesbitt-Stein and her Candy Apples dancers. In the season opener, Ms. Nesbitt-Stein and her young daughter, Vivi-Anne, are having ice cream and discussing, apparently, how her whole competitive team has fallen apart.

The dance coach says she'll go out and perhaps find an all-boy troupe, which sounds a bit like Mama Rose putting together yet another new act in "Gypsy." Stay tuned.


Maria Sciullo: or 412-263-1478 or @MariaSciulloPG.


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