NBC has scuttled a proposed reality show that would have followed an Appalachian family’s adjustments to a ritzy lifestyle in Beverly Hills.
(MSNBC is a joint venture of Microsoft and NBC.)
Plans for the program had caused an outcry among residents of Appalachia, who saw it as an affront to the region. But NBC spokeswoman Shannon Jacobs cited “creative reasons,” not the protests, as the reason the show wasn’t pursued.
“I’m glad NBC quickly came to its senses and decided this ill-conceived concept wasn’t going to become a part of ‘Must See TV,”’ said U.S. Rep. Harold Rogers, R-Ky., one of the people who had protested to NBC. “Let’s hope all the other networks are paying attention and get the message loud and clear.”
After months of outrage over a similar reality series that CBS planned, NBC managed to cast and shoot a similar show without attracting widespread attention.
Ewell Balltrip, former director of the Kentucky Appalachian Commission, noted that an outcry across the region kept CBS from producing its show, and he’s stunned another network had moved forward with a show aimed at ridiculing mountain people.
“No one would dare propose creating a program focusing on stereotypes about African Americans, Muslims, or Jews,” Rogers said. “Why then would it be OK to bash those of us living in rural America?”
The decision to quash the reality show was seen as a victory in the mountain region.
“I feel good that NBC came to its senses on this,” said Dee Davis, director of the Center for Rural Strategies, a Kentucky organization that fights against rural stereotypes. “Networks shouldn’t be mocking people just because they come from a rural area. Maybe this is a sign that the tide is turning, and that the broadcasters are taking what rural America says more seriously.”