South Bostonians may soon be identified by false stereotypes when a new reality TV series premieres on TLC in the fall.
The company behind MTV’s reality TV series “Jersey Shore,” 495 Productions, recently confirmed it is producing a new reality series about South Boston. The show, titled “Southie Pride,” will air on TLC and focus on five women and their families living in South Boston.
On its website, 495 Productions dubs itself “the foremost production company for identifying the most interesting everyday people, putting them in unique situations and creating water-cooler programming unlike any other on television.”
The company, which produced reality shows such as “Dance You’re A– Off” and “Tool Academy,” was founded three years ago.
Many Bostonians said they are worried that a reality show based on the “Jersey Shore” model could produce – or reinforce – negative stereotypes of Boston residents.
“I probably would watch it, but at the same time I think it would be damaging to the image of Bostonians,” said Liz Brannon, a Boston University College of Arts and Sciences junior. “Ever since . . . ‘Jersey Shore’ started, people have been stereotyping residents of New Jersey for being trashy and belligerent even though most of the cast isn’t even from the area.”
In fact, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has been vocal in his aversion to “Jersey Shore” and what it has done to his state’s image.
In September 2011, after vetoing a proposed $420,000 tax credit for the show’s first season, he called the show “a project which does nothing more than perpetuate misconceptions about the state and its citizens.”
Despite the controversy of 495 Productions’ shows in the past, some BU students said the show had the potential to be highly entertaining, especially to locals.
“People that live here will have a good reason to watch it because it’s something local,” said BU College of Communication freshman Andrew Caplan, “but in the national perspective it is the same thing as the Jersey Shore – there is nothing special about it and it will give Boston a bad name because it definitely gave the entire state of New Jersey a bad name. I would feel horrible if that happened to Boston.”
BU student Emelia Thompson, a CAS junior, said the show might prove to be a guilty pleasure.
“I could watch a show about Southies being Southies for hours,” she said. “As much as I’d like to boycott lowest common denominator television shows like the ‘Jersey Shore’ or anything on Bravo, watching people that are grossly unprepared to face real life cope with their over-dramatized problems is hilarious.”
Despite Brannon’s professed moral objections to “Southie Pride,” she said she does occasionally enjoy reality TV.
“I do watch ‘Jersey Shore’ and enjoy it for the fact that it is stupid television and because it’s completely ridiculous and so far from real life,” she said.
Thompson also said a “reality” TV show based in Boston would not necessarily reflect Boston in a real way.
“A show about South Boston wouldn’t really lower people’s opinions of Bostonians, it’d just reaffirm preexisting stereotypes,” she said. “Just like New Jersey isn’t completely full of fist-pumping meatheads, Boston isn’t completely full of [Brad] Marchand jersey-wearing bad drivers.”