Never thought I’d use this space to eulogize a reality TV star, but here we go. And no, I’m not talking about that doctor from Koh-Lanta, either. Frankly, if my medical career had gone so off-track that I was providing first-aid on a reality show, I’d kill myself too–even if a contestant didn’t die first.
But that’s beside the point. Shain Gandee didn’t take his own life; he died doing what he loved, crazy redneck West Virginian that he was. The star of MTV’s Buckwild, which put the Mountain State back on the map, Gandee passed away in a mudhole due to carbon monoxide poisoning, a bad case of muddin’ gone wrong. And if you watched the show, you’d know that Gandee Candy wasn’t just a star, he was definitely the star. If Snooki and The Situation had sex in a Sissonville trailer-park, their bastard love child might be something like Shain. (Love the redneck spelling, by the way.)
Which is not to say he was a Guido; hell, the hills of Sissonville are many miles away from the Jersey Shore, even though MTV made a conscious effort to present his show as some sorta backwoods spin-off of their most popular program. But while the Shore House gang’s rap sheets were full of public intoxications and dance-club brawls, shit down in West Virgina gets a lot more serious. Case in point: Salwa Amin, the Bengali beauty who liked to take her top off, has now been arrested twice for possession of both hillbilly heroin and actual horse. (And no, I didn’t say an actual horse; that’s probably not even illegal down in those parts…) Something tells me she won’t be back for Season 2. If they even have a Season 2, that is.
MTV had already renewed Buckwild for another summer, but they’ve obviously suspended shooting in the wake of Gandee’s death. Cuz unlike Mike, who’s a dick, and Snooki, who’s a ditz–characters you tune in to make fun of–Gandee Candy was a guy you actually wanted to root for. I mean, his pal Tyler was a playa and Joey’s got the IQ of a Seaside Heights houseplant, but Shain was just a good guy, man. He didn’t have the looks or anything, but his country-boy charm and hair-brained redneck schemes stood out above all the two-timing, cat-fighting and bitching. And when he finally woos ex-lingerie model Cara–by spelling out their initials with road flares!–in the final episode, it was like he scored one for fat, hairy rednecks everywhere. And he didn’t even hafta design a duck-call to do it!
Sooo, will the show survive another season without Shain? While I don’t doubt MTV already has a hush-hush casting call ongoing for a new back-country hillbilly to take his place, it just won’t be the same. Cuz you can replace an Angelina, no problem, but if Pauly D were to die in a blow-dryer fire, the Music Television Network would be forced to cancel Snooki & JWOWW out of respect. (C’mon maaaan, is that show still going!?)