MTV announced last week that it won’t air the second season of the popular reality TV show Buckwild, after the most popular cast member, Shain Gandee, died in a mudding accident. As you may know, Buckwild followed the exploits of a group of 20-somethings in a small West Virginia town. The idea is that it’s Jersey Shore West Virginia style.
Amber and I watched a few episodes, and found the whole thing terribly exploitative — but a fairly accurate indicator of how “emerging adulthood” is playing out in working-class America. With no real courtship script and few norms to guide young adults’ sexual behaviors, everybody is a free sexual agent — and everyone seems to realize it. Hooking up and cheating and mistrust abound.
Although Amber and I have heard many working class young adults say that their bad experiences with sex and relationships were valuable learning experiences, it is difficult to see how the “Buckwild“ script helps working class young adults to reach the good marriage that most working class young adults want — particularly because many of them already have the disadvantage of a low stock of “trust capital” because of their families’ fragmentation.
Good for MTV for cancelling the show. It was a disgrace that they ever ran it. Instead of gawking and profiting from the deterioration of trust in working-class America, Big Media should create television that helps working class young adults to rebuild trust, and that supports their aspirations for a good marriage and family life.