Reality TV crosses the line with 'Hatfields & McCoys'

Exploitation reaches a new low with “Hatfields & McCoys: White Lightning.” 
Photo: History Channel/ Hatfields & McCoys: White Lightning

WASHINGTON, August 1, 2013 —With the phenomenal success of the “Hatfields & McCoys” mini-series last year on History Channel, it was just a matter of time before a producer found a way to further capitalize on it. Tonight at 10 p.m. on History Channel the TV viewer gets to see the results of that effort with the premiere of “Hatfields & McCoys: White Lightning.”

According to a press release:

SEE RELATED: History Channel re-runs record setting Hatfield-McCoy series Thursday, Aug. 16th at 8:00pm

“To this day, the Hatfields and McCoys still live along the West Virginia and Kentucky border on the same land where their ancestors waged America’s most notorious family feud. 150 years later, they are still working the coal mines and still making moonshine. Sure, over the years treaties have been signed and handshakes exchanged, but none of that can erase their violent past.”

“To aid a troubled economy, West Virginia recently legalized the distilling and selling of moonshine. Seeing the potential for a hot new brand and billion dollar profits, a St. Louis investor offers to set the Hatfields and the McCoys up in business to make a completely authentic Hatfield & McCoy moonshine. ‘Hatfields & McCoys: White Lightning’ follows these two famous families as they try to put aside their hateful history and come together to build a new business.”

Okay that’s the basic press release, now let’s read between the lines. Leslie Greif, the executive producer of the mini-series starring Kevin Costner and Bill Paxton approached descendants of the two families with an idea for a reality series.

Never mind that the McCoy family on the show is actually the Quick family. They are direct maternal descendants of the McCoys, but the Quicks & Hatfields would only confuse viewers, so for the sake of clarity they are known as McCoys.

SEE RELATED: TV tonight: The premier of MTV’s Buckwild and The Fiesta Bowl

Never mind that the organizer of the Quick/McCoy family has a degree in history and international affairs from Marshall University and is currently working toward her master’s degree in Business. Courtney Quick/McCoy will still be encouraged to deliver a backwoods hillbilly performance for the viewer.

A cruise back in time on Courtney’s Facebook page is absent of any mention of her hatred of the Hatfields, or a love of guns and four wheeling, all of which are mentioned in her History Channel biography.

Never mind that the rest of the descendants of the two families deny any lingering bad blood between the two, the need for drama means they better act like they hate each other regardless of the underlying truth.

The fact that any network would greenlight such an obviously manufactured “reality show” further demonstrates that no ethical bottom line exists in reality TV programming. But taking an authentic piece of American history and soiling it with contrived nonsense is inexcusable, especially for a network that is supposed to tell history and not rewrite it.

You can bet “Ole Ran’l” McCoy and “Devil Anse” Hatfield will be rolling over in their graves tonight.

Tonight’s viewing:

All times are EDT:

8 p.m.

ABC: Wipeout: (New) Contestants face obstacles, including Squashbuckler, Backyard BBQ and Octopushy.

CBS: The Big Bang Theory: (Repeat) Sheldon is outraged, and his confidence takes a hit, when he’s forced to work with his nemesis, Barry Kripke. Meanwhile, Howard and Raj shell out big bucks for action figures of themselves.

FOX: Glee: (Repeat) The glee club is tasked to perform a song from a movie. Meanwhile, Santana makes herself at home in the loft, but Rachel and Kurt aren’t thrilled about it. The cast’s performance of “Shout” marks the series’ 500th musical number.

NBC: The Winner Is…: (Repeat) Six acts compete before a panel of 101 judges.

CW: 2013 Young Hollywood Awards: (New) Coverage of the 15th annual event in Santa Monica, Cal., which honors emerging talent in the entertainment industry. Categories include: Actor of the Year; Actress of the Year; Superstar of Tomorrow; Breakthrough Performer; Comedian of the Year; Style Icon; Artist of the Year; and Best Ensemble Cast.

8:30 p.m.

CBS: Two and a Half Men: (Repeat) Alan has a surprising inspiration when he mulls making a commitment to Lyndsey; Walden enjoys the attention of a wealthy older woman.

9 p.m.

ABC: Motive: (New) Angie uncovers a tale of tragedy and revenge when a young man is beaten and suffocated.

CBS: Big Brother: (Live) Another houseguest is evicted from the compound.

FOX: New Girl: (Repeat) Jess is laid off from her teaching job and volunteers to be a shot girl at Schmidt’s “rebranding” party in the Season 2 opener.

NBC: The Winner Is…: (New) The final six performers take the stage to prove their worth, but only one can move on to the million-dollar finale.

9:30 p.m.

FOX: The Mindy Project: (Repeat) Mindy is offered the chance to deliver a medical report on the local TV news, and gets advice for appearing on camera from an unlikely source.

10 p.m.

ABC: Rookie Blue: (New) When a missing persons case is reopened, Swarek teams with his training officer to solve it; Chloe and Dov deal with a witch and her client.

CBS: Elementary: (Repeat) Holmes investigates a double homicide that is eerily similar to a series of murders that took place 13 years ago. Meanwhile, Watson visits Sherlock’s former rehab center to learn more about him.

NBC: Hollywood Game Night: (New) Guest stars Tom Arnold, Stacy Keibler, Patricia Heaton, Rose Byrne, Anthony Anderson and Jamie-Lynn Sigler play party games with regular people.

Basic cable:

New episodes of:

The Hero at 8 p.m. on TNT

Property Wars: Boom or Bust at 8 p.m. on DSC

Property Wars at 8:30 p.m. on DSC

Monumental Mysteries at 9 p.m. on Travel Channel

Burn Notice at 9 p.m. on USA

Our Nixon at 9 p.m. on CNN

How it’s Made at 9 p.m. on SCI

Project Runway at 9 p.m. on HGTV

Pawn Stars at 9 and 9:30 p.m. on History Channel

Anger Management at 9:30 p.m. on FX

Beyond Scared Straight at 9  and 10 p.m. on A&E

How it’s Made: Dream Cars at 10 p.m. on SCI

Chef Wanted with Anne Burrell at 10 p.m. on Food Channel

Hatfields & McCoys: White Lightning at 10 p.m. on History Channel

Sullivan & Son at 10 p.m. on TBS

House Hunters at 10 p.m. on HGTV

Wilfred at 10 p.m. on FX

House Hunters International at 10:30 p.m. on HGTV

For movie lovers:

8 p.m.

Goodfellas on ENC

Stepmom on FLIX

The Green Mile on IFC

Born on the Fourth of July on SHO

The Big Sleep on TCM

Do the Right Thing on TMC

9 p.m.

Ted on HBO

Savages on HBO

I Still Know What You Did Last Summer on MOMAX

Ransom on SHO

Guess Who on STARZ

Journey to the Center of the Earth on TNT

Later tonight:

The Happening at 10 p.m. on FXM

Alone With Her at 10 p.m. on SUND

Key Largo at 10 p.m. on TCM

Lethal Weapon at 10:30 p.m. on ENC

This article is the copyrighted property of the writer and Communities @ Written permission must be obtained before reprint in online or print media. REPRINTING TWTC CONTENT WITHOUT PERMISSION AND/OR PAYMENT IS THEFT AND PUNISHABLE BY LAW.

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Lisa King

I was born and educated in Southwest Virginia, traveled with my job all over America in my twenties and early thirties then came back to the mountains to raise my daughter.

I’ve been employed as everything from a quality control technician in industrial construction, to a mail processing plant manager, to postmaster of a small town. I’ve been to forty nine of the fifty states, as well as many other countries. Traveling will always be a passion I indulge, and something I’ll call upon often in my writing. 

I come from a long line of story tellers, and will shamelessly exploit a family tree resplendent with colorful and unique characters, both past and present.

In short my perspective will reflect the pride and familiarity I have of my Appalachian heritage. My stories will be a reflection of the values I believe we hold dearest here, all embellished with a healthy dose of Southern Appalachian flare.


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