These ranchers can cut cattle, sure, but can they play harmonica or chase off grizzly bears, as requested in the casting call?

[imgcontainer] [img:ranchers.jpg] [source]Photo by Katie Weilbacher[/source] These ranchers can cut cattle, sure, but can they play harmonica or chase off grizzly bears, as requested in the casting call? [/imgcontainer]

Reality television continues to push its way into rural America like urban sprawl.

A television production company has put out a casting call for “authentic and colorful cowboys and their families” to appear in a “docu-reality” television program.

The announcement apparently went to the Montana Cattleman’s Association in early November. A more recent notice of the announcement appears here, in the AgricultureProud blog.

Orion Entertainment says it’s looking for a family with at least three kids “that are all great looking cowboys and cowgirls” who work in “stunning ranches with diverse terrain and challenges.” Those challenges might include “chasing grizzlies and wolves away from cattle.”

Finding handsome rancher families may not be too difficult, but other requirements may be harder to meet. Cast members will need to be versatile and perform more than just chores.

“Members of the family and staff should have fun hobbies and skills like [the ability to sing], play the guitar or harmonica, write and recite poetry, cook the best BBQ in the county, make their own clothes, raise bees or have wild animals as pets, raise bulls, or be an aspiring bull rider or rodeo participant.”

Multi-generational families, feel free to apply. “Grandparents are a plus,” the announcement says. 

Lest you think this is going to be a public-television style documentary, like “A Chef’s Life,” please note:

“All members of the family need to have big, strong personalities with great and unique looks. We’re looking for dynamic, engaging and uninhibited families that live the lifestyle.”

That word “uninhibited” might set off alarm bells. But other reality-based shows Orion Entertainment has helped develop for television don’t appear to be in the mold of the more outlandish fare we’ve seen in recent years. For example, Orion’s “Nightmare Build Rescue” features a builder who helps get construction projects back on track. “Wyoming’s Call of the Wild” introduces young people to outdoor sportig activities and was produced with Wyoming’s Game and Fish Department.

Orion Entertainment didn’t respond to an email request for more information about the possible cowboy reality show.

Commercial reality television shows produced by other companies and reviewed in the Yonder have treated rural America as the punchline in old, worn-out jokes. “Buckwild,” set in West Virginia, featured youthful Mountain State residents who engaged in an astounding amount of mud wrestling, even for their teen-aged demographic.

White Lightning,” set on the West Virginia-Kentucky border, resurrected some of the first mass-media stereotypes of Appalachia by staging a modern-day feud, of sorts, between descendants of the Hatfields and McCoys.

And then there’s “Duck Dynasty,” the A&E hit that has been in the news since star Phil Robertson made comments to GQ about his views on homosexuality. GQ writer Drew Magary alternatively idolizes and ridicules Robertson in the article. Robertson responds in perfectly scripted form to the stereotypes. (What passes for new information in Magary’s article is actually an age-old plotline: smart-alek meets big-mouth.)

After initially getting dropped from the show for his statements, Robertson is back and making more headlines with another round of comments that play on rural stereotypes.

Maybe the cowboy reality show will be different. 

It’s a big country, after all.

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