Big Hair. Big Boots. Big D. This is Reality?

Dallas is hot, hot, hot on reality television. Or at least someplace sort of like Dallas.

Big Hair. Big Boots. Big D. This is Reality?
Jesse Lenz

Relax for a moment and imagine a place where women's curly locks bounce on their shoulders like perfectly spiraled ribbons atop beautifully wrapped presents. A mother-daughter outing means a trip to the plastic surgeon. On an average date, a high-heeled twentysomething might find herself riding a privately reserved McKinney Avenue trolley while sipping booze and chatting with a man as charming as he is handsome. Beauty is currency. Imagine a place where home decorating means bedecking beds and desks with peacock feathers and crystals, where couches are upholstered in the richest fabrics and rooms adorned by the boldest accessories. The owner of such a home might attend a charity gala, spending thousands for a seat.

But how could one attend such an affair without a designer gown and fresh manicure? Money is no object. Imagine a place where everything is luxuriantly super-sized. Hair styles are voluminous — those bouncy curls, those bouffants. Men who wear cowboy boots and drive enormous pickups are the grandest gentlemen. Women, though well-groomed, are as brazen as their husbands. If single, they're just plain ballsy. Everything is enormous. This fantasy world isn't such a stretch if you glance around certain pockets of Dallas.

It's especially true if you watch cable television, where the city's essence is reduced to its most pungent distillation, like strong floral perfume that pervasively lingers. This year alone, about 10 Dallas-based reality shows made it to air (Most Eligible Dallas, Donna Decorates Dallas, A-List Dallas, Big Rich Texas and Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team, to name a few), many on high-profile networks.

The Dallas Film Commission, part of the city's Office of Economic Development, maintains a list of shows that either filmed or held casting calls here, and since 2005, there have been more than 300 filmings and castings. While some shows are based primarily in the city, the Film Commission also counts those that film an episode within a series — The Biggest Loser, Intervention, Man v. Food. Since Cheaters, the locally produced show in which adulterers are busted on camera began 11 years ago, Dallas has gradually become a hub for unscripted television production, gaining in quantity and stature to the point at which nearly every prominent reality television network has aimed its crosshairs at Texas, specifically Big D and its 'burbs.

Bravo, network king of reality programming, recently finished airing the first season of Most Eligible Dallas, which follows the dating and nightlife of six young socialites as they drink, prance and date their way around the city. Before green-lighting Most Eligible, Bravo snooped around the Dallas area for a reality show for more than a year, says Shari Levine, the network's senior vice president of production. "It's about interesting people who are doing things that you want to watch. ... They're smart. They're fun. They are surprising, and they're entertaining — bottom line," she says. "It's always about characters, but characters really represent where they're from. They represent social networks; they represent communities. We were intrigued by Dallas. ... There's a flavor that permeates all of their choices and their questions that feels different, and that's the Dallas part of it."

While New York and L.A. have been stampeded by reality film crews and New Jersey's moment of fame came, fist-pumped and crashed, Dallas moved on up for the reality treatment. Where the trend is going, it's tough to say. "Three years from now, I don't know that it will be Dallas," Levine says. "It'll be something else. But right now it is Dallas." So grab a Shiner Bock and settle into your Texas-sized easy-chair.

Out of all the potential characters and shows that could be mined from the Dallas area, and there are many, Levine and her fellow Bravo execs chose one show, one cast, six people as the network's biggest reality foray into North Texas.

"I think it's sort of where they are at this point in their lives. A group of people in their late twenties," Levine says. "They were all single. They were all looking for sort of the next thing in their lives. They were looking for love. They were looking for relationships, permanent relationships. They were at a transition point, and it's always interesting to spend time with people who were at transition points. They were an aspirational group. They all knew each other. ... They had a group dynamic, with the perfect sort of backdrop to say, 'Let's put our cameras there and see what happens.'"

Ed Bark, former Dallas Morning News television critic and founder of independent television blog Uncle Barky, isn't impressed. "I can't think of any reality series where the city hasn't been portrayed as this gaudy citadel of rich people, creature comforts and basically vacuous people," Bark says. "I watch it out of morbid fascination," he says of Most Eligible Dallas. "Car-wreck television is kind of what it is. I think all in all the representation of the city is another kick to the groin."

Courtney Kerr, the impeccably dressed, wine-drinking, bubbly Most Eligible cast member, joined the show because it involved a group of friends with whom she was already comfortable. Her sexual tension with her best guy friend, Matt Nordgren, the former college football player who works for his father's energy company, was the show's strongest narrative thread. In fact, it was Nordgren who roped her into the show in the beginning. "He's like, 'Oh my God, you have to meet my best friend Courtney,'" she recalls, speaking energetically as though someone would steal her words if she didn't spit them out quickly enough.

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16 comments
Lm
Lm

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Texas Ranches For Sale
Texas Ranches For Sale

This is only the tip of the iceberg, but if you take your time, do your homework and hire competent professionals to give you advice, there is no reason why you can't achieve your dream of country living.

Raphael Jeanfrancois
Raphael Jeanfrancois

When you see Dallas, there's always that that saying about everything being bigger in Texas hanging at the back of your head. And the show gives people just the right proportion to justify the saying.

Raphael Jeanfrancois
Raphael Jeanfrancois

When you see Dallas, there's always that that saying about everything being bigger in Texas hanging at the back of your head. And the show gives people just the right proportion to justify the saying.

NONE
NONE

shallow shallow shallow....stereotyping.....narrow narrow narrow....totally out of the "reality" of the locale and culture today....could have been written by someone from Seattle or Cleveland.

Jack Arson
Jack Arson

The editor of this article needs to give Leslie Minora a spanking. This reads like a high school English paper. There's a list of some reality shows, and where they were incubated, and some blurbs from reality-star hopefuls, but where is the substance? What does landscaping Dallas through reality television bode for Dallas' image as a whole, to natives and to a national audience? That is what the article should be about: The impact that reality television is having on the city's image. Every one of those so-called "reality stars" mentions our "big hair and cowboy boots." For Hell's sake, THIS BLOG ARTICLE is entitled "Big Hair. Big Boots. blah blah blah." Get. Over. It. What if the discussion revolved around the perpetuation of stereotypes and the positive/negative impact that they can have on a city's own psyche? What's really interesting is that this town is not full of all of those stereotypes, and using them to turn a profit on a crappy reality television show actually does more damage, and misrepresents this city. Playing into those stereotypes impedes progress. And while companies like AMS believe they are doing a good thing by playing on the attention brought to Dallas while it's "hot" and bringing in some profits, their stereotypical portrayal of this city is most likely going to do more harm than good. Also, I believe the TV show "Dallas" was referenced about 20 times as being part of the major reason why anyone has any interest in this town, but, and pardon me for pointing this out, but to which demographic is this aimed at? Twenty-somethings and younger didn't grow up watching that show, but they sure do watch reality. So I doubt the delectable mystery of who shot JR is what appeals to younger audiences about Dallas. That silly show is still riding it's fame horse (pun intended) with remakes, documentaries, and parties where the cast all slap each other on the back for being so damn great. I think that ship has sailed. Ps -Not all rich Dallasite owns a ranch. Or a horse. Or a pair of boots. Or likes football. Or owns Aquanet. You get the picture. As a person in the video/film industry, I can appreciate that reality shows do bring work to freelancers and crew members who need it, and that it does somewhat bolster the local economy, not as much as say a film that were being shot here would, but there are definitely perks. That being said, the reason reality tv gets produced in bulk is because it is cheap and quick to shoot. It is the fast food of the television industry. It is quantity over quality. Now that all eyes are on us, what are we going to do with all that attention?

Red_Eye_Girl_4434
Red_Eye_Girl_4434

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John
John

As I am from NJ, people ask me if reality shows accurately portray those from NJ as ignorant obnoxious idiots with the IQ of dried paint. I get asked the same questions about the way those from Dallas are portrayed. I regret I have to answer yes to both.

CheeryBitch
CheeryBitch

The decorating show displays the tacky, typical "design" you see all over DFW. It's horrid.

Craigley
Craigley

Courtney Kerr has to be the worst name ever. I mean ever ever.

Yuck.

CurtisEichelberger
CurtisEichelberger

along with how rick perry is acting on his campaign no wonder everyone thinks we are retarded here in dallas.. i am ashamed to tell people i am from dallas.. please please.. just stop the madness...

JB
JB

I've lived in Dallas 12 years and have never seen anyone in a cowboy hat. And where are ranches everyone thinks pervade the city?

GreenMamba
GreenMamba

Lmfao @ Steve, if you call cowboy boots weird in Dallas you are considered an "Emo Dipshit"? I guess everyone who dosen't live in Dallas or the "southwest" are emo dipshits then. And Steve, did you even read this?

Steve
Steve

Don't lump in cowboy boots with "weirdness."

Emo dipshit.

rip dvd to wmv
rip dvd to wmv

That could also be my first time to hear this name.

 
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