The Boonies: National Geographic's off the grid reality exploit

The Boonies is a new National Geographic reality show that purports to give us insight into areas on the planet Earth that are "off the grid," not connected to our "technology-driven world." It premieres on Tuesday, January 19th, 2016 at 9:00/8:00c on NatGeo.

Keep that in mind while watching this clip from the show entitled, "We Got Us a Goat":

There's a weird, fine line (okay, sometimes not so fine) in reality television between exploitation, revealing or enlightening or just flat out pure sugary entertainment, and additionally the subjects of reality shows' desire to be "exposed" for fortune or fame (even if it's in Andy Warhol's 15 minutes variety).

I think about this dynamic quite a bit when it comes to reality shows like MTV's Teen Mom or VH1's Celebrity Rehab (shout out to Dr. Drew Pinsky, who is involved with both franchises). In those cases, there's a mix of cautionary tale and potential for redemption mixed with, "Wow, their lives are messed up... and I'm glad that's not me."

the boonies

"If you were a little bigger, I'd put a saddle on you," we hear a man say as he walks a goat toward what looks like a tree fort of some kind.

"In Onion Creek, Washington," we then hear a serious-sounding voice over guy say. "Doc Leverett has successfully bartered for a LaMancha Boer Goat, the kind of renewable food source he needs to sustain his life above the grid."

"Genie! We got us a goat!" Doc says.

It's hard to get a read on whether The Boonies is going for straight-ahead docu-series or if its knowingly treating its subjects -- off the grid folks trying to live their lives in unique fashion relative to the rest of the populace -- as nature series-like subjects, implying that there's an absurd titillation factor as these are of course human beings and not wildlife.

Maybe the producers of The Boonies don't even know the answer. But something about the tone of the voice over guy's voice reminded me of some of the scenes from Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five.

By Eric - TV Geek Army "Revered Leader"

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Eric is the publisher and revered leader of TV Geek Army… at least in his own mind. TV Geek Army is a place for serious TV reviews and news for serious fans of great television. Contact: eric-[at]-tvgeekarmy.com 

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11 Comments
On: Tuesday, February 23, 2016
Gregory Webb said:
I just watched the Boonies show where a cave dwelling hermit lights what appears to be five or six fog lights with an automobile alternator spinning at oh 60 +/- RPMs., propelled by a hub cap paddle wheel. BULL SHIT! The minute he closed the circuit on this rig the heavy load of the lamps would be like a brake across the alternator and the paddles would probably STOP DEAD! It's impossible to do this at the speed and limited torque of the system. Now this is not the only discrepancy I have seen in this show and considering there are going to be viewers that might actually die from depending on duplicating these "miraculous" inventions an techniques while trying to be an off grid wonder like the ones in your show. BRAVO!
On: Saturday, February 27, 2016
lush said:
Yes the guy is right about the alternator powered lights. I have seen some other things on this show that is bullshit. It's just as fake as mick dodge. Don't. Waste your time.
On: Tuesday, March 1, 2016
Cherokee Mama said:
I want to know more about Doc and his wife and how they live like that in the winter
On: Sunday, March 13, 2016
Porter said:
The scenes in the cave are comical. They act like they are lost in caves deep in the earth and you can see writing on the wall and daylight in the background. Then a dog lol they could have left out finding a pet dog. If a earthquake makes you take undiscovered caves leave out the graffiti on the wall.
On: Sunday, March 13, 2016
Marty said:
So I Was watching "The Boonies" season 1 episode 5 when Dan is calling for his dog Titus at 24:11 minutes in he is calling for his dog and you can see him in the frame ( bottom left corner near the boat ) while Dan is saying how worried he is for his dog Titus. FAIL!
On: Wednesday, March 16, 2016
Marty's Fan said:
Thank you Marty- I saw that too and it drove me nuts how lazy they were!!! I had to pause it and show my boyfriend. What a pile of absolute garbage this show is...
On: Thursday, March 17, 2016
Daytona said:
Love the show new twist on life. as good as Alaska the last frontier and deadleast catch
On: Tuesday, May 24, 2016
draugr said:
Another big bunch of crap from nat geo. How these people can keep producing this fake bs and not get called out is amazing. I stomached lurched when one of the characters had to make a trip to the 'supply depot' and told the camera people that they had to stay out because 'these people don't like cameras and outsiders'. Hell it was just Crockett's Country store and canoe rental. They even have their own web site and offer their customers a wi-fi hot spot. Nat geo tries to make it appear that it is some secret hidden trading post in the mountains run by hillbilly folk that all ride mules to work. What a load of horse shit.
On: Saturday, June 18, 2016
ISLANDER said:
I live on Beaver Island where Dan Burton lives. The guy lives in town literally across the street from the grocery store. This show was so fake and is basically a joke to everybody up there. It's funny because there are people up there who actually live off the grid. This guy isn't even from there and lives in a regular house in town... so annoying.
On: Wednesday, October 4, 2017
iknow said:
this is not real i know that goat and it is not "doc's" its my neighbors goat. and by the way i live on the very top of that mountain so i know what it's like and that is definitely not what its like at all.
On: Monday, October 16, 2017
BooniesIslander said:
I too live on the island and ISLANDER does not know what they are talking about. Dan lives out in the middle of the island with his family most definitely off the grid. No power lines or phone lines only some solar and a small generator. They have been out there for a very long time.
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