Pop Culture

Senator urges MTV to pull the plug on 'Buckwild' series, calling it a 'travesty'

What Garden State folks might put up with from "The Jersey Shore" is not going to fly in West Virginia, not if Sen. Joe Manchin III has his way. The Democrat from the Mountain State is speaking out about the new MTV series "Buckwild" which appears to be trying to duplicate the "Jersey Shore" formula in Appalachia.

"I am repulsed at this business venture," he wrote to MTV network president Stephen Friedman in a letter last Friday, calling the show a "travesty." "You preyed on young people, coaxed them into displaying shameful behavior and now you are profiting from it."

Sen. Manchin has not yet seen the show, which premieres in January -- only previews, according to the Washington Post -- but what he's seen duplicates much of what has already been shown on "Jersey Shore": young people cavorting, partying, swearing and generally being as "wild" as they can, all while cameras are rolling.

The nine twentysomethings featured on the show all live in and around the small town of Sissonville, W. Va. 

Manchin joined TODAY's Matt Lauer Monday via satellite to explain further. "This is one of the greatest states in the nation, with the best people ... and to portray this as the norm is wrong," he said. "Is this entertainment? Is this what you have to do today to make a profit?"

The senator exhorted producers to support the best and the brightest from his state, not the sloppiest and silliest, but as Lauer pointed out, that might be expecting too much from reality TV. 

"The viewers must understand this is not reality, this is not real West Virginia," said Sen. Manchin. "They come in here and coerce these students or these young people, they pay them money, promise them fame and fortune, they had four and five takes until they got it outrageous enough to show it. Now, that's not reality."

He said MTV has not yet responded formally to the letter (though Entertainment Weekly spoke with "Buckwild" creator John Stevens, who said it was "not like looking at a train wreck," and thinks the show will "be very refreshing to the MTV audience."

That's not what Manchin is hoping to hear. "It's a shame that we've degraded to this," he told Lauer Monday. "This is not entertainment. ... This is not who we are."

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