Remember when the History Channel used to be, like, educational? There were shows about famous landmarks and ancient Aztec civilizations. There were biographies of former presidents and shows about the different types of Native American arrowheads found in Yosemite. There were documentaries on the Model-T and dramatic reenactments of great battles from the Spanish American War. Well not anymore, ladies and gentleman.
Nowadays when you flip on the History Channel, chances are you we will be greeted by the smiling, intelligent faces of Glenn and Mitchell Guist of Swamp People. Yes, that's right, the same channel that used to teach you how an airplane is assembled now prominently features a show called Swamp People. Not Swamp Thing -- which would actually be awesome if History Channel brought that show back -- but Swamp People. Sometime five or ten years back, the History Channel morphed into the Red Neck Channel.
Here are some more examples of current HC programming that I would consider to be targeting the Whiskey Tango demo. Now bear in mind, I haven't actually seen most of these shows, so I'm sort of just judging by their titles. Luckily, for most of these the title is all the evidence I need: American Pickers, Pawn Stars (I realize that this is an extremely popular show, but that doesn't make it any less white-trashy), Only In America With Larry The Cable Guy (see what I mean about the titles?), Mounted in Alaska (the show is about a taxidermist for crissakes), Ax Men, Dog Fights, Extreme Marksmen, Ice Road Truckers, Sharp Shooters, and The Real Face of Jesus? (yes, the question mark is included in the title). Add to those all of the Hitler bios and the histories of the Ku Klux Klan and you've got yourself the rootinest tootinest programmin' line-up on basic cable!
The cavalcade of Red State-oriented programs on the History Channel rolls on. The channel has recently announced that reality television impresario Mark Burnett will produce a five-part mini-series called The Bible. I know, I know, you guys were hoping for an adaptation of Todd Burpo's instant-classic Heaven is For Real, but The Bible will have to do for now. Burnett tells the New York Times that the new History Channel project will be the “most important project I have ever undertaken." What?! More important than Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader? Impossible.
My favorite part of the NYT interview with Burnett is that the reporter feels the need to point out to us that The Bible "will be scripted" and "a departure for Mark Burnett." As if we all expected to flip on the History Channel just in time to see Cain and Abel fighting over an Immunity Idol.
Burnett claims the idea to recreate The Bible came to him out of nowhere when he found a collection of golden plates sitting on a hill near his Upstate New York home. Wait, no, I think I'm getting Burnett's story mixed up with another one. Oh yeah, I remember now. Burnett's wife, actress Roma Downey, convinced him to take on the project. Ms. Downey has previous experience with faith-based television, having starred in CBS's based-on-a-true-story docu-drama, Touched by an Angel.
According to Burnett, the plan is to break The Bible into five, two-hour long, easily digestible segments. Each segment will feature two or three bible stories each. Since The Bible is so long and the project is merely a mini-series, Burnett will host a live singing contest, pitting Old Testament against New Testament, to determine which of your favorite biblical characters will make the cut. The contestants will be judged by a panel made up of Ron White, Jessica Simpson, and a guy that one time got his picture taken with Dale Earnhardt at a Bob's Big Boy. "A little pitchy, Jesus. Sorry, but you're out!"
Okay, I have to admit that the last couple parts are just rumors. I haven't been able to confirm them... yet. Stay tuned!