Basis for reality?
With Tuesday evening’s fatal shooting at Coastal Carolina University and Sunday’s anticipated debut of reality TV series “Welcome to Myrtle Manor,” is our seaside hamlet getting the kind of national exposure it wants?
These two events are decidedly different in nature, one is very serious, the other, not so much.
Yet, they’ll both have Google and other search engines working overtime, and the morning-after, the shooting incident was one of the lead stories on the national FOX News feed I heard on local talk radio station WRNN-FM, and was reported by CNN soon after the news broke locally, as the Newtown massacre has heightened awareness about gun violence at schools and other learning institutions.
But back to the purported reality series slated to make its debut at 10 p.m. Sunday on cable channel TLC.
Several months ago as bits and pieces of “Welcome to Myrtle Manor” surfaced in the local news and social media landscape, my brain began to ponder ways to cover the burgeoning phenomenon. As a weekly publication that relies primarily on freelance writers (i.e. I can’t send someone on a stakeout like I could if I had a full-time staff reporter), it’s hard to cover something of this nature that you can get scooped on so easily by daily publications, TV news, and the 24-hour Internet news cycle.
So I debated whether to tackle “Welcome to Myrtle Manor” at all.
Still, with a reality series set in a trailer park smack dab in the middle of Durty Myrtle, it seemed like something right up our alley.
Somewhere along the way I bumped into local music aficionado/scribe Brian Howle at an HOB concert and we chatted, and sometime thereafter became Facebook friends.
He’s known in the area for his music-based column “Along the Watchtower” that appeared for roughly a decade-and-a-half in Alternatives and Coast Magazine. I’d never paid too much attention to his column, but his Facebook posts began to intrigue me and were entertaining.
In particular, one of his posts in early September reacting to some “Welcome to Myrtle Manor” news sparked my intrigue.
Wrote Howle: “The possible fare of other M.B.-based shows is unlimited: “Battle of the Beachwear Stores,” “Bucksport Wives,” “The Palmetto Bug Whisperer,” “Extreme Hangover” (College, Golfer, Shriner Editions), “Kourtney & Khloe Take Red Hill,” “Survivor: Mopeds,” “Pimp My Coon Dog.” Oh, wait until they stumble upon Atlantic Beach: “So You Think You Can Drink & Drive?,” “Extreme Jackass,” “Are You Smarter Than a Sand Crab” ...
I replied that this would be the basis for a great Surge cover story if he was interested. He said he was and I filed it away in the dark recesses of my overloaded brain.
Then, a few weeks ago, TLC released more specifics about “Myrtle Manor” and revealed its debut date.
I contacted Howle again and asked him if he still was interested in doing the piece we talked about.
And thankfully, he was, as evidenced by this week’s cover story.
The germination of the idea about other Myrtle Beach reality series we’d like to see remained an aspect of the cover story, but the overall package evolved to take into account the tide of complaints about the “Myrtle Manor” video trailer that was released teasing clips from the show, so Howle, an Andrews native, also takes a look at the sociological implications of this series, what it means for our area’s image, its potential impact on tourism, as well as delving into the cast of character descriptions provided by TLC.
We also attempted to talk with the show’s creators and one local cast member that we’ve had previous contact with, local party promoter Taylor J. Burt who was willing to be interviewed but it had to be approved by TLC, and unfortunately at press time there had been no responses.
Kent Kimes, Editor