(That's "Country Music Televison" for those of you who, like my mother, might respond with "are you trying to say 'TLC'?)
I first noticed CMT as a college freshman at Baylor. I didn't get to leave town for spring break that year because I was in rehearsals for a play. At the time Baylor had a rule (don't know if it's still a thing) that if you stayed on campus during Spring Break* you had to stay in the basement of South Russell, instead of your actual dorm room**. A few of my guy friends gave me a key to their house for the week so I wouldn't actually have to stay in the basement, but my mother insisted that I still sign up for the basement housing, and check in every day so someone would know if I was abducted mid-week. Every time I "checked in" there was a girl sprawled out on the sofa in the lobby, watching music video after video on CMT. (Oddly enough she looked exactly like Anna of "Texas Women" did during that crazy Gypsy Soul shoot***). She never moved, had the same outfit on all week, and never changed the channel.
After that I don't remember noticing CMT was even still part of the zeitgeist until I saw a print ad for the first season of "Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders: Making The Team" (which, if I remember correctly, wasn't even an actual season - I think it might've been just a one off documentary). Watched it. LOVED IT. (How could I not? When asked during the interview portion of the tryout why she should be trusted with the DCC uniform? -- as in, 'why should she be allowed to represent the organization? -- one candidate answered that she'd always been very trustworthy with her uniforms in the past, that she'd be sure to wash it by hand, and that she'd definitely remember to turn it in on time at the end of the season. This was right after another candidate responded to the question of "would you support Condoleezza Rice running for President" with "Absolutely. I think a person should follow their dreams, and I would wish him all the luck."****. ) Half of me mocked them incessantly while the other half desperately want to be one of them. Needless to say, I was hooked.
But I was only hooked on that particular show. Every October or so I would make sure I had it DVR'd, and then watch it when it popped up on my list, and that was that.
Until a few days, ago. When I heard about a little thing called "Southern Nights".
It's essentially a Savannah set, southern fried version of the "Real World". The conflict comes straight from the RW Bible: A girl is torn between falling for one of her roommates and staying true to her boyfriend back home. A couple in the house tries to make their fledgling relationship work in the confines of their crazy living situation, etc. Except that, in this show, there's always a southern values twist*****. The girl doesn't want to hurt the hometown boyfriend's pride: so she confesses to him that she kissed her roommate (this happened exactly once), cries when he leaves, and then offers to reimburse him for the cost of his trip. Had this happened on Jersey Shore, she'd wait until her roommate/crush hated her enough to tell her bf that she'd "$*&#J!J!" his "@$%*~?" when the boyfriend wasn't looking. (I won't make you wait for the footnote. Those symbols don't actually mean anything. I just wanted to point out that I hate it when reality shows bleep out terms that are so disgusting/I'm so unaware of that it takes me 30 minutes of googling to figure out what they said, and, once I do, another half hour to clean up the vomit). Elsewhere in the Southern Nights' house, the couple explains that they won't be sleeping in the same room, because even though they'd like to snuggle once in a while, they don't want to move too fast or embarrass their families. Also, the entire cast dips everything (EVERYTHING - we're talking Hot Pockets to String Cheese) in Hidden Valley Ranch.
After a little research, I discovered that the cast is actually made up of the alumni from another one of CMT's shows. It's the southern fried version of the Bachelor/ette franchise! And THAT'S when I found out it's on the same night as something called "Texas Women" that follows 1 actual Texan and 3 girls pretending to be Texans as they live life and dream their dreams (and I assume get Botox and go to the gun range! We'll see!!)
So, long story short, I'm now a full season into "Texas Women", about to wrap up "Southern Nights", and I cannot wait to go back and find out what happened on the first 3 seasons of "Sweet Home Alabama". Oh did I not mention that? That's the title of their version of the Bachelor. (Which, BTW, doesn't even have a host, just a fat guy named Boyd who wears bolo ties, only shows up on elimination nights, and gets five kinds of ranchy if no one offers him a beer).
I'll let you know what else I uncover in the CMT vault, but for now, if you need something new to watch, trust me when I say these southern fried reality finds are five kinds of worth your time.
*Or should I say "The Holidays" (shout out, fellow Bluth fans)
**Collins, #604, That's right. I was a cool girl. Only losers live in South Russell ;)
***Literally, just like that. I thought of the spring break CMT devotee the second I saw her.
****I didn't cut that quote off. That's where she stopped. Not "all the luck in the world" just
"all the luck". Weird, right?
*****The "Southern Values Twist" shall heretofore be known as the "SVT".
If you're from the South you can go ahead and throw it into your vernacular alongside