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The Rural Blog: ‘Buckwild’ suspended as key player found dead; two others afoul of law

By Al Cross
Special to KyForward

MTV has indefinitely suspended shooting for the second season of the West Virginia reality series “Buckwild” after one of its stars, Shain Gandee, right, was found dead with his uncle and another man. “Shain and David Gandee were last seen at Larry’s Bar in Sissonville at about 3 a.m. Sunday, and said they were planning to go four-wheeling in the younger Gandee’s Ford Bronco,” reports Zac Taylor of The Charleston Gazette.

Shain Gandee

The truck was found “partially submerged in deep mud,” the Kanawha County Sheriff’s Department said. “The truck’s muffler was completely below the surface of the mud,” Taylor reports. “That might seem to indicate the men were overcome by carbon monoxide poisoning, but a cause of death was not released. Humphreys said the bodies would be taken to the state medical examiner’s office.”

“While Shain was outgoing and adventurous, some of his recklessness may have been fueled by the MTV show itself,” Taylor writes, quoting Swanna Frampton, a close friend of the Gandees: “‘Buckwild’ made him famous, and he took risks that I didn’t think he would normally take.” Taylor reports that Gandee was “referred to by some of the other cast members as a ‘redneck MacGyver’ [and] was the architect of many of the show’s stunts and hijinks.” (Read more)

The Associated Press notes that other cast members have made news lately: One “was sent back to jail for violating the terms of her bond following a February arrest” on drug-possession charges and another was charged in February with driving under the influence.” (Read more)

The New York Times ‘ Bill Carter notes, “During its first season of 12 episodes, which began in early January, Buckwild was the No. 1 show in cable television with viewers …12 to 34, the base audience for MTV. Overall the series averaged 3.2 million viewers per episode, a good total for cable television. MTV had already ordered a second season of the show. But its future is now in some doubt.” (Read more)

University of Kentucky philosophy instructor Alexandra Bradner, who has written about Buckwild, opines on Salon, “We know Shain, because he was the one who wanted, but never quite got, the prettiest girl in the room.” She says comments on MTV’s website make “clear that his edited character was an audience favorite. Viewers found him ‘real’ and unaffected, contrarian and creative, the perfect wingman. They liked everything about him — his accommodating attitude, his reckless love for his truck(s), and his ‘can do’ spirit. They’re wondering if the series, renewed for a second season, can possibly survive such a loss.” (Read more)

Al Cross is director of the Rural Blog, a digest of events, trends, issues, ideas and journalism from and about rural America, from the IRJCI, based at the University of Kentucky. The Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues is an extension program for rural journalists and news outlets. It takes no positions on issues and advocates only for strong news coverage, responsible commentary and things that make them possible, such as open-government laws. For more information see www.RuralJournalism.org.

You might also be interested in reading Daily Yonder: MTV’s ‘Buckwild’ is about teenagers, not West Virginia, native writes.

(Photos from MTV.com)

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