Hatfields and McCoys get reality TV show

Still of Kevin Costner in 'Hatfields & McCoys'.

Still of Kevin Costner in 'Hatfields & McCoys'.

Bill Harris, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:32 PM ET

TV truly is chasing its own tail. Yes, that has been said often in the past. But we really mean it this time.

Case in point, a commercial promoting the new reality series Hatfields and McCoys: White Lightning, which makes its Canadian debut Wednesday on History, begins this way:

"If you loved the mini-series, then you'll be all jacked up for the real deal."

The mini-series to which the commercial refers is the one that starred Kevin Costner and Bill Paxton and was titled Hatfields & McCoys. It attracted record audiences when it aired in the spring of 2012.

Of course, the mini-series Hatfields & McCoys was based upon the real-life infamous feud between the Hatfield family and the McCoy family, which plagued the backwoods of Kentucky and West Virginia in the late 1800s.

So now we have a new present-day reality series, which exists due to the popularity of a scripted mini-series, which itself was based on reality. Well, nothing makes things more real than TV, I suppose.

To this day, some members of the respective Hatfields and McCoys clans who really can't take a hint still live along the West Virginia-Kentucky border, on the same land where their ancestors waged the most notorious feud in U.S. history. So in the wake of the Costner-Paxton mini-series, someone got the bright idea to track down some of these people to see if there's a TV show in it.

Hatfields and McCoys: White Lightning follows current descendants of "Devil Anse" Hatfield (who was played by Costner) and Randall McCoy (who was played by Paxton) as they evaluate a rare economic opportunity.

With moonshine now legal in West Virginia, a seasoned liquor executive is looking to bring a moonshine brand to market. McCoy patriarch Jim Quick, a direct maternal descendant of Randall McCoy, is approached about a business partnership with the Hatfields, which would create a Hatfield & McCoy moonshine.

But this would require Jim to work alongside Hatfield patriarch Mark Hatfield, the great-great-great grandson of "Devil Anse" Hatfield. It also would mean that both families would have to reveal their secret moonshine recipes and supply their legendary well water.

Prior to the mini-series, what little I knew about the Hatfields and McCoys, I knew from The Flintstones. In that animated series, the hillbilly "Hatrocks" were featured in a couple of episodes. But like most people who subsequently watched the mini-series, I know quite a bit more about the origins of the feud now.

This new show is a bit of a jump from the mini-series, though, as much as the makers of Hatfields and McCoys: White Lightning savour the association.

The reality series is along the same lines as, say, Duck Dynasty on A&E. The name of the genre into which these shows are placed - reality - actually isn't fair or accurate, because they essentially are straight comedies, with people playing up their yokel accents and reading lines.

Do you have any interest in current hillbilly people with names such as Missy Hatfield and Courtney McCoy?

Maybe it depends upon how much moonshine you've consumed.

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca


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