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."
"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.