(ABC) — In the increasingly bizarre universe known as reality TV, redneck is ‘red hot.’
Change the channel any given night and you can go from “Hillbilly Handfishing” to “Rocket City Rednecks” to “Swamp People,” and sometimes it feels “Honey Boo Boo” is on 24 hours a day – or we wish she was.
These larger-than-life characters are just too much for reality show producers to pass up.
Television critics say their popularity also says a lot about us.
“I think it has to do with the economy because we used to look at shows with housewives and false breasts and false teeth and false everything to people with no teeth,” says Linda Stasi, TV critic for the New York Post.
Of course, not all of the self-described rednecks are down on their luck.
ABC’s Ryan Owens recently met the Robertsons – a Louisiana family who turned duck calls into a million dollar empire, and into A&E’s hit show “Duck Dynasty.”
The premiere of season two’s “Duck Dynasty” brought in 3.8 million viewers. “Honey Boo Boo” gets 2.4 million viewers a pop, and The History Channel’s “Swamp People” averaged 4.2 million for its third season.
Stasi adds, “These numbers are very big for cable and we are talking about shows that cost 15 cents make.”
But while America’s appetite for redneck reality seems insatiable, not everyone is so sure it’s a healty diet.
“They represent an exarragrated image of the lives of rural people that deal with their hands,” says Ted Ownby, Professor of Southern Studies at University of Mississippi.
But as long as rednecks keep bringing in the ratings, they’re not going anywhere – and that’s tv reality.