It was a mistake, and I’m ashamed of myself.
When I first heard the show was coming out, I was actually kind of excited. A reality show about cowgirls on the rodeo circuit? Heck yeah!
The premise of the show isn’t that dissimilar from Real Housewives–put a bunch of catty, backstabbing yet attractive women in a show together and follow them around with a camera.
The first episode aired Dec. 11, and initial reviews weren’t looking so good.
Rodeo Girls is yet another vehicle for D-list fame-seekers.” — AV Club
“Just what the world needed: another unscripted series about women acting like heifers to one another. Yee-haw.” — Boston Herald
“Just say ‘neigh’ to Rodeo Girls.” — New York Post
“One might expect the self-described ‘cowgirls’ who are the subjects of A&E’s new reality series Rodeo Girls would defy what is now a reality-TV stereotype, but they don’t. Fans of estrogen-fueled bickering will get what they want.” — Media Life Magazine
Even David Wallach, one of the show’s developers, panned it in Chicago Now, saying, “Would I watch Rodeo Girls if I wasn’t a part of the team that created it? That question kept me up most of the night. Once, to see what it’s like, but that’s about it.”
Ouch. I put it off as long as I could, but as the editor of a horses-in-pop culture website, I felt that it was my responsibility to vet this thing for what should be the show’s target demographic: real horsepeople. Just like the show’s characters, right?
The show seems to be something of a vanity project for Darcy LaPier, whose headline-grabbing past includes marriages to Hawaiian Tropic CEO Ron Rice, actor Jean-Claude Van Damme and Herbalife founder Mark Hughes. She starts things off on the wrong foot, showing up to the rodeo with her new toy, a $200,000 champion barrel racer. The other gals thinly veil their disgust.
It’s like the Saddle Club for grown-ups! Rich-betch Darcy is Veronica, seasoned horsewoman Barb is Carol, hot mess Marvel is Stevie, and instead of Lisa (she was always such a prude) they’ve subbed in two hot young buckle bunnies, Megan and Jessica. Throw in a few hat tippin’ cowboys for good measure…
… and an exciting barrel-racing competition finale…
…. and you should have a recipe for reality TV gold, right?
Unfortunately, as much as I wanted to love or even just like this show, I couldn’t get on board. I feel like if I met these women in real life, we’d talk horses over a couple cold ones and be fast friends. On this show, however, their characters just felt scripted and fake. I wanted to reach through the television set and give their shoulders a good shake: I know there’s a real cowgirl in there somewhere! Wipe off that makeup and just be yourself!
The rodeo community hasn’t exactly greeted Rodeo Girls with open arms. There’s even a Facebook page called Rodeo People against A&E’s new show “Rodeo Girls”, whose goal is “to raise awareness of the offensive manner towards barrel racers AND the rodeo community that this show is trying to ‘sex up’ for viewers.”
But this was my favorite reaction:
The third of six episodes airs this Thursday, Dec. 19, at 10 p.m. ET/PT or you can watch it on aetv.com. If you want to watch you better get on it soon, though, because Rodeo Girls might not be long for this world.
Show developer David Wallach told Chicago Now, “A&E gave the show six episodes, which isn’t a lot to develop characters, story line or even invest in what’s happening. It’s a snap shot of the life of people in the rodeo, since they shot and re-shot for five months and were only able to cut six episodes out of all that footage. If you are interested in watching Rodeo Girls, watch it while it lasts, because odds are it has already been put out to pasture and isn’t coming back.”
Go Riding, for real.