After I read that History Channel’s “Swamp People” clobbers “Real Housewives of New York City” in the ratings (4.572 million viewers vs. 2.037 million in a recent face-off), well, I had to watch this strange little ratings juggernaut. Hey, I figured it could be my new favorite thing. I like swamps. I like people. It’s a home run. Right?
Well… let’s just say I am not the targeted demographic for “Swamp People.” I lack the testosterone. I tend to root for the gators. I don’t like to hear things being shot in the head. Thankfully, you won’t see the shooting. Yes, you’ll see the thrashing before it, the little slow-motion splash of water kicked up by what we can guess is either the bullet hitting the water or the gator’s last flail, and you’ll watch the limp, carcass being dragged into the boat. But no actual blood spatter. We can all be grateful for small mercies.
Before someone posts a scathing criticism that I simply don’t get it, I’ll cop to it right now. I don’t get it. I’m not going to slam these guys (and one girl I’ve seen thus far) for making a living. They’re far tougher than I am. I’m a big ol’ wuss. I have a hard time killing bugs without a glue trap or a vacuum cleaner. Again, I’m not the demographic.
And for the record, I’m fifty percent Cajun. The mush-mouthed dialect isn’t just something I’ve heard on TV. Cajuns are a proud, self-sufficient people who like to eat food that often has okra in it, which tells you that they’re willing to find the silver lining in almost anything. I respect these swamp people. I even admire these swamp people. I just don’t want to watch them do their jobs, not anymore than I want to watch a neurobiologist euthanize canaries.
Oh, and I’ll gladly concede the point that these swamp people are probably far better people than most of the Real Housewives. The swamp people have jobs. They’re responsible. They’re close to the food chain. The Real Housewives are largely entertaining in their excess, their folly and their cattiness. While sometimes you might feel sympathy, or envy, most of the time you’re just relieved you don’t have to deal with any of these women directly.
But I'd rather watch a self-involved trophy wife with too much plastic surgery whine about her mean friends than watch a gator get its brains blown out. Tomato, tomahto.
So, I’m not going to slam on ‘Swamp People.’ I'm not even going to give it a grade, as I don't think it would be right. Apparently, millions of people aren’t as squeamish as I am. They enjoy the hunt for Lucifer or Big Rex or Godzilla (it seems there’s always another mammoth alligator to find). Personally, I could use a little more story than wake up, hunt, yell at your lazy stepson, repeat. But that’s just me. May the swamp people carry on. I just won't be watching.