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Jan 29, 201309:57 AM
The Lighter Side

Exploring the humor and peculiarities of the Big Easy

Annie's Favorite Louisiana Reality Shows

Have you ever noticed that there seems to be a lot of reality shows set in and around Louisiana? It seems like there's an endless array of programs with interchanging words like "swamp" and "pawn" and "cajun". Sometimes it's hard to know what's worth watching and what is just one network trying to copy off of a popular theme. Is "Swamp Pawn" better than "Cajun Pawn Stars"? Are the "Bayou Billionaires" as cool as the "Duck Dynasty"? These are some important questions for the Pelican State.


I myself probably watch too much reality TV. I like to try to convince myself that I watch the "good" kind of reality shows like "Top Chef" or "Project Runway," or the ones that win Emmys, instead of those "low-brow" reality shows like "Kim and Kourtney Take Wherever." But truth be told, I have no right to throw stones. I admit it, I watch "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo". Though sometimes I'm convinced that they are actually a family of comedic geniuses in an Andy Kaufman sort of way.


Anyways, I spend a lot of my time on the computer as I am a freelancer. And to feel comfortable, I always need something going on in the background. I can't work in complete silence, it's just unnerving, so I got into the habit of turning on A&E or some other mindless TLC or Bravo reality show just to have a little background noise. After awhile, I started noticing that a good portion of these shows are actually set nearby, due to the awesome tax breaks. Here are my favorites:


"Swamp People" (History Channel)

I feel like most reality shows are only great for their first few seasons, before everyone gets too famous. And I'm beginning to think that "Swamp People" might have "jumped the gator" (sorry, I couldn't help it), but it's still the most entertaining of the "swamp" genre. It also has the best production value. Sometimes I'll just watch for all the gorgeous shots of the bayous and swamps. Of course, the stars of the show are all awesome, everyone loves Troy Landry (and Elizabeth ... err, Liz). I just hope there's a few more seasons left before it gets too formulaic. 


"Billy the Exterminator" (A&E)

When I first heard of this show, I wondered how a show about an exterminator could be entertaining, but I soon found out that there are a lot of vermin and creepy crawlies out there in Louisiana to make for interesting television. Also, "Billy" is just a lot of fun to watch. I mean, the guy dresses up like he's going to an AC/DC show to go out and catch rats and get rid of bed bugs. But the thing that I really love is when they can return animals to their natural habitat or take them to a nature preserve, instead of just killing them.


"Duck Dynasty" (A&E)

I love these people so much. They are a state treasure.


I had no idea that a show centered around a family that made duck calls could be so awesome. Apart from the hunting and shooting and cleaning animals, I want to grow up and be just like Phil and Uncle Sy. They're just so zen and present. And just plain hilarious. I think it must come with spending a lot of time in the woods.


And, as a home cook, Miss Kay is my hero. In the very special "Redneck Christmas" episode, Miss Kay convinces her son and his friends (who had had plans to go hunting for the day) to drop everything and put up her Christmas lights, a pretty daunting task. All with the promise of her famous sweet potato pie. At one point, Jase (my personal favorite bearded one) says, "Never underestimate the power of sweet potato pie."


So a few weeks ago, I decided to experiment with Miss Kay's method. I made my husband a sweet potato pie to see what chores around the house he'd do. I think I might need Miss Kay's special recipe because all he did was take out the trash. I was a little more successful a few days ago, however, when I made him ham and cheese crepes. He changed a few light bulbs and took my car to the gas station to put air in the tires. He also cleaned out our cat's litter box, which is pretty much unheard of, so maybe he's just not a sweet potato pie kinda guy. Ham and cheese crepes it is. Thanks Miss Kay.


Honorable mention:

"Steven Seagal: Lawman"

It's not that I really liked the show. I just thought it was hilarious when he'd be fighting crime in Jefferson Parish (where he is liscened to do such things) and then they'd cut to sweeping views of the city of New Orleans (Orleans Parish), the Superdome, the epic skyline, as if that's where he was actually doing his heroic work. I'd watch an episode and count how many times it was implied that he was fighting crime where he wasn't fighting crime at all.


My Reality Wish List


"Top Chef: New Orleans"

There is a sad lack of reality cooking competition shows in our food-obsessed city. We get an episode here and there or a mention, but to my knowledge there haven't been any full-fledged seasons in the epic culinary city of New Orleans. And I think that's a tragedy.


I'm not sure I understand how Seattle or Texas got a season of "Top Chef" before we did. I know we had a season finale taped here, but that's as far as it's gone. I really hope we get one soon because I would watch the hell out of it and one of my friends would probably stalk Tom Colicchio (she thinks he's way hot). And no, my friend is not me. 


"An Idiot Abroad: Louisiana"

If you've never seen "An Idiot Abroad", you need to pull up Amazon or Netflix and order/purchase it RIGHT NOW. Or tune into the Science Channel as it's currently airing the third season. It stars Karl Pilkington, the funniest unintentional comedian of our time. Basically, Ricky Gervais and his partner Steven Merchant stick Karl in funny situations around the world and let the cameras roll. What happens is pure comic genius. And in the third season we get the added bonus of Warwick Davis. It's seriously one of the funniest shows on TV.  I know it'll never happen, but it's a fantasy of mine to see Karl Pilkington go to a Mardi Gras parade or even put him on one of the super-krewe floats. Or Karl Pilkington at a crawfish boil. Or Karl Pilkington at Jazz Fest. The possibilities for hilarity are endless.


Please let me know what your favorite Louisiana shows are in the comments! Or shows that you might be looking forward to ("Real Housewives: New Orleans" anyone?)

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The Lighter Side

Exploring the humor and peculiarities of the Big Easy


Annie Drummond is a graphic designer and artist from Columbus, Ohio. She has a degree from the Columbus College of Art & Design. Two years ago she made the move from the Midwest to New Orleans' Bywater neighborhood and fell deeply in love as she discovered the rhythms and traditions of her new city. In addition to The Lighter Side, she writes about food, art and design (and other stuff) at www.AnniedelaDolce.com.




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