CMT's Redneck Vacation offers skewed vision of Gulfport's Blueberry Patch
The biggest problem with most reality TV shows is they rarely live up to their name.
Organizers of Gulfport's Blueberry Patch, which bills itself as the state's oldest surviving artists retreat, found that out the hard way when CMT's My Big Redneck Vacation stopped by to film an episode for the show not long after Labor Day last year.
The episode, which aired Saturday, showed producers shepherding a family from Shreveport, Louisiana -- known as the Clampets, of course -- into the Patch. The family goes on excursions to places picked by the show with no idea where they're going; the idea is to plop the family into situations where their southern culture clashes with some other sensibility. Hijinks ensue.
But some of the depictions seem off base; Gulfport is shown as an impoverished community and the Patch is referred to as a "hippie commune," though one organizer said only a couple of people live on the site. Liza Epstein, a 24-year-old member of the board which maintains the Patch, said members played up their bohemian attitudes to create scenes which would work on television.
"We knew exactly what it was they were doing and we played it up," she told me last week, for a preview I wrote published Saturday; Epstein was shown washing her feet in the family's traveling bus midway through the episode. "Everybody knows reality TV is for entertainment purposes. (Nobody) believes reality TV is real."
Still, some of the show's depictions bothered Epstein enough that she sent an email noting some of the omissions, including no mention of the Patch's founder, Dallas Bohrer.
"If there is anything we'd like the public to know about us: Although we do allow the legal-aged community to bring their own alcohol, that is certainly not our main focus. Music, art, peace, and love is our focus, as cliché as that sounds.
The hookah was their prop and there really was only apple and molasses in that bowl. We don't condone drug use of any sort and that is not something we want to be associated with.
As I said before, we are also not a commune, although there are a few residents living on the property that maintain it."
Check out the episode below to see ho the Patch comes across.