I can't believe it's a show: 'Hillbilly Handfishin''
Welcome to TheVine's new TV blog, “I can't believe it's a show”, where each week I'll be profiling a new reality TV program I can't believe actually exists.
Reality TV is a fertile genre for shows that test the limits of one's grip on sanity, because let's face it, after a decade it's running out of juice. Metaphorically speaking, there are some inch-deep clawmarks in the bottom of the reality TV barrel of ideas. And when people run out of ideas, they get desperate. And when network executives get desperate, you get shows like “Manu's Dinner Date”.
And so Australia, I bring you the result of desperate US network executives' latest boozy lunch.
I can't believe this is a show: “Hillbilly Handfishin'”.
If I was in charge of writing the TV guide listings, I'd sum up “Hillbilly Handfishin'” thusly: “Half naked men make mastabatory gestures in muddy water for an hour each week as they get bitten by fish.”
Although that description would probably get complaint letters, and you don't want complaint letters from TV guide readers (believe me, I've been there – they're always handwritten and they're always from people called “Elsie” or “Graham” and they're always angry, oh boy are they angry...), so in the interests of being more responsible and informative I'll describe it like this:
“Hillbilly Handfishin'” follows the river-bound exploits of Oklahoma fishermen Skipper Bivins and Trent Jackson, who teach city slickers the lost art of “noodling” - catching catfish with one's bare hands or feet.
Basically, you wade into a muddy river, stick your hand in a mud hole and wait for a fish to bite you, then you pull it out. Naturally, banjo music will accompany you.
If you watched those clips above you probably won't believe me when I say that “Hillbilly Handfishin'” is watched by more than one million viewers every week in America. Admittedly, in a country where top rating shows regularly score 19 million or more that's a pittance, but think about it this way: IT'S ONE MILLION FUCKING PEOPLE. WATCHING MEN FLAIL ABOUT IN MUD FOR AN HOUR.
And they say reality TV is dying.
Join me next week when I stick my hand deep into television's murky mud hole and pull out another piece of WTF in “I can't believe this is a show”.