Michael Deeds: Reality TV's wacky portrayal of Idaho 'Way Out West'

mdeeds@idahostatesman.comJuly 18, 2014 

Coming this season on a new reality TV series about Idaho families: beer bottles opened via roaring chain saw, children pelting a shrieking man's bare back with paintball guns, a massive evergreen tree felled directly onto a vehicle, and a gleeful buffoon setting his face ablaze in a Crouch saloon.

If that doesn't entice you to watch the premiere of "Way Out West" (8 p.m. Monday, July 21, truTV), let me take another hunting-knife stab at it: It's basically "Duck Dynasty" meets "Jackass." (Check out the preview video below)

In other words, I'm not endorsing this as must-see TV. Just I-see-Idaho TV. But you won't feel any guiltier munching pork rinds in front of this brain-cell anesthetic than any other schlock on truTV. "Way Out West" is certainly more likeable than abominations from that cable/satellite channel such as "Hardcore Pawn." Heck, at least Idaho's scenery is showcased.

But like the viral Idaho GOP gubernatorial debate, this probably wouldn't be my first choice to represent the Gem State to the rest of the world. (Incidentally, infamous political hopeful Harley Brown says he has his own reality TV show in the works. Paintball me now.)

The gist of "Way Out West," a so-called "docu-series," is that "three boisterous, fun-loving families of outfitters have been living, laughing and competing with each other for three generations." You may have bumped into some of these folks, although the premiere of "Way Out West" mostly focuses on the over-the-top antics of the adult males - the Bullocks (TV role: burly mountain men), Korells (TV role: pretty boys) and Yourens (TV role: nutballs). Korell Outfitters and the Bullocks' Elk Creek Outfitters are in Emmett. I'm not sure where Youren Outfitters is based. "Way Out West" makes them seem so batty that I feel safer not knowing.

The show's producers have milked the concept into 13 episodes. Yes, milked; there's a subplot about herding cows later in the season. Chasing pigs, too. And plenty of other Idaho ranch-livin' antics - such as a woman firing a handgun into a river and declaring, "This is how you fish in our family!"

In the premiere, a Youren gets his tooth yanked while lying on the kitchen table. Soon after, there's a "chariot race" between the families that includes an inflatable raft being dragged wildly on dirt by a horse. The men seem to enjoy face planting on this series - when they aren't trying to set each other on fire. Johnny Knoxville must share a distant relative with Matt Youren.

But like most of reality TV, everything is so blatantly and ridiculously scripted that it's often hard not to feel like you're the one being held down on that kitchen table.

"If we're gonna do something stupid, we might as well look good doing it," one of the Korell men says, explaining why it makes sense to build a racing chariot by attaching a snowmobile hood to a water trough.

Lookin' good? Watch "Way Out West," and you decide, Idaho.

ENTERTAINMENT NOTES

• Highly recommended: If you're looking for affordable outdoor fun with exceptional entertainers, make time for the Summer Lawn Bash at Crooked Flats in Eagle with headliner Roadkill Ghost Choir on July 19, and Sunday Blues in Julia Davis Park with headliner Hamilton Loomis on July 20.

• Last week's Mayhem Festival was a hit at the Idaho Center's Ford Amphitheater. About 9,000 fans showed up for heavy-metal bands such as Korn and Trivium.

• Speaking of metal: Classic headbangers Judas Priest will visit CenturyLink Arena on Friday, Nov. 21, with opener Steel Panther. If you aren't familiar with Steel Panther, hit YouTube immediately - assuming you enjoy brilliant hair-metal band parodies and hilariously clever-but-obscene lyrics. Tickets: $29.50-$59.50, centurylinkarenaboise.com.

Also, alt-metal band Helmet will perform its 1994 album "Betty" in its entirety Saturday, July 19, at Neurolux. Tickets: $20, ticketfly.com.

• Country singer Dierks Bentley is headed to Taco Bell Arena on Friday, Oct. 10, with openers Randy Houser and Eric Paslay. Tickets: $25-$45, boisestatetickets.com.

• Singer Alana Davis ("32 Flavors," "Crazy") has been booked Thursday, July 24, at Liquid. Tickets: $15, liquidboise.com. And Patti Griffin will return to the Egyptian Theatre on Tuesday, Oct. 21. Tickets: $40 at egyptiantheatre.net.

• The Revolution Center in Garden City is unleashing another weekly, ages-16-and-older EDM series packed with lasers and confetti called Havoc Fridays. It's $5 advance at ticketfly.com, $10 at the door. The main-stage set-up initially includes Bare (July 25), Party Favor (Aug. 1), Project 46 (Aug. 8) and Robbie Rivera and Wax Motif (Aug. 15).

• If you haven't seen 'Weird Al' Yankovic's "Word Crimes" video, a parody of Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines," watch it below - and now. It's brilliant - possibly the best work he's ever done.

Michael Deeds co-hosts "The Other Studio" at 9 p.m. Sundays on 94.9 FM The River and appears Thursdays on Channel 6 News.

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