MTV has opted not to continue with its redneck reality show Buckwild, officially issuing a statement that it will not be moving ahead with the controversial show, which had been called “the Jersey Shore of Appalachia.” The network will, however, air a tribute to late cast member Shain Gandee on Sunday.
“After careful consideration, MTV will not be moving forward with Season 2 of Buckwild in West Virginia,” said MTV. “We love the cast and the show and this was not an easy decision, but given Shain's tragic passing and essential presence on the show, we felt it was not appropriate to continue without him.”
"Instead, we are working on a meaningful way to pay tribute to his memory on our air and privately. On Sunday, we will be running a special Buckwild: WV to the NYC, which was shot before production had begun on Season 2. With the support of his parents, Dale and Loretta Gandee, we will run the tribute following a day of programming dedicated to Shain in which we will air the entire first season of Buckwild.”
The news comes just over a week after the death of 21-year-old Buckwild cast member Shain Gandee, whose body was found along with those of his uncle and a friend after the three had gone "mudding" in Sissonville, West Virginia. Gandee's death, along with the two other men, was ruled accidental—the result of carbon monoxide poisoning after their vehicle became mired in a muddy bank, the exhaust pipe of Gandee's truck becoming submerged in mud.
MTV quickly moved to shut down production in light of Gandee's death, but indicated that the show would eventually resume production on its second season, which had already shot four episodes.
The network then reversed its decision on Tuesday, opting instead to cancel the show outright, according to a report on Deadline. “Despite having enough footage for several new episodes,” wrote Deadline's Dominic Patten, “MTV executives couldn’t see any way to continue with the series without Gandee, I’m told.”
In the meantime, others, including Charleston, West Virginia, Mayor Danny Jones, have sought to get the cable network to cancel the show outright. “Of the few cast members on the show, already two have had legal issues and now one has died," Jones told TMZ. "The show only enhances the negative stereotype the Kanawha Valley already has. I hope the show's life is short."
In fact, the show's life was even shorter than many expected. MTV's decision to axe Buckwild came as a surprise to the show's executive producer, J.P. Williams, who also manages most of the reality show's cast members.
"This is the network that has shows about teen pregnancy," Williams told The Hollywood Reporter. "They'll stick by a show that allows you to abandon a child, but a kid dies by accident doing what he does for a living [mudding] and they cancel the show? There's something that smells of s--t here on every level."
For his part, Williams indicated that he intends to continue shooting Buckwild, even without MTV's involvement, and is looking to make a feature film based on the reality show, which he may self-finance. "My job is to protect these kids,” he told The Hollywood Reporter. “This will get ugly.”
On Wednesday, Gandee's mother, Loretta, also issued a statement of her own: "Thanks to everyone for their thoughts and prayers during this incredibly difficult time for our family. We have truly felt all the love and know that Shain is resting peacefully. Shain was an incredible, outgoing, and positive person who was loved by whoever he met. We are honored that we were able to let the world see what a wonderful son we had. He was the best son anyone could ask for. As we look to honor him in our lives every day moving forward, we are happy to share some of his last moments doing what he loved best: having fun and making people laugh."