UPDATE 1/3/13 @ 11 p.m.
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) – The MTV show “Buckwild” premiered Thursday night, putting West Virginia back in the national spotlight.
Thursday night at Buffalo Wild Wings in Huntington, they switched their TVs at halftime from the Fiesta Bowl to “Buckwild.” Reactions were mixed.
"I think it's a great show,” Drew Sutphin said. “It's no worse than ‘Jersey Shore.’"
"It looks entertaining, but I don't know if it's entertaining in a good way," Ian Smith said.
The show, set in Sissonville, has seen its fair share of criticism.
Senator Joe Manchin wanted producers to pull it before it aired because he said it portrayed unrealistic stereotypes.
"I think it's disrespectful to West Virginia,” Carly Christian said. “It doesn't really show how we live."
Chris Layne was among those who caught part of the show Thursday. Layne is from Sissonville and says he knows some of the cast.
"It's not like it's making West Virginia look bad, it's just a bunch of kids doing what they want to do," Layne said.
The cast members of “Buckwild” took to the late night and morning talk shows to defend it before it aired.
If you watched the show and would like to join the discussion, go to the WSAZ Facebook page and tell us what you think.
If you missed it, the premiere episode airs again Friday at 2 a.m. and 9 p.m. on MTV.
Adults throughout this small, Kanawha County community had plenty of "no comments," but the teens in town had plenty to say.
"There's good and bad in Sissonville. I'm worried they're just going to show the bad," Sissonville High School Senior Marshall Brown said.
Of the six teens who spoke during an impromptu round table discussion with WSAZ, many knew the upcoming cast mates.
"I'm able to tell the difference between reality TV and what's real life," Alyssa Atkins said. "We'll have to wait and see, but the trailer doesn't seem that impressive."
MTV is hoping for another pop culture hit to replace its "Jersey Shore."
U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., says he feels New Jersey Gov. Chris Cristie's pain.
"That was not an accurate portrayal of the people of West Virginia," Manchin said. "This is not the norm of West Virginia. You want to come look at the most beautiful state, see our great people? Come on, we'd love to have you. You want to go trail riding, you want go hiking, zip lining and you want to go white water rafting? We got it all. This TV show isn't who we are."
Manchin's office said Friday that he sent a letter to the president of the network saying the show profits off of "poor decisions of our youth."
The senator also said the show set to begin airing Jan. 3 plays to ugly, inaccurate stereotypes about the people of West Virginia.
The network ordered 12 episodes of the show last fall, and a trailer shows the cast drinking and swearing, four-wheeling and fighting, even filling a dump truck with water and using it as a swimming pool. It was shot in Sissonville and Charleston.
An MTV spokeswoman said Friday that the network had no comment at this time.
Below is the full text of the Senator's letter:
Dear Mr. Stephen K. Friedman,
As a proud West Virginian, I am writing to formally request that you put a stop to the travesty called “Buckwild.” 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. I cannot imagine that anyone who loves this country would feel proud about profiting off of “Buckwild.”
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. That is just wrong.
This show plays to ugly, inaccurate stereotypes about the people of West Virginia. Let me tell you: our people have given their all for this great country. They’ve done the heavy lifting to produce the energy that is needed to produce the steel that builds our factories and cities. The proud veterans of our state have shed more blood and made more sacrifices than most other states to keep America free. We’re proud of all we do to make America strong and secure the cherished freedoms that you seem so determined to abuse.
Your program offers nothing about the major issues of our time: how we move our country forward, how we prepare young people to lead this country and take responsibility for themselves and how we put our finances in better shape for the next generation. I am writing to urge you to reconsider airing this show. 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?
With warm regards,
Joe Manchin III,
U.S. Senator, West Virginia