No one expects everything on reality TV to be real. But ramping up personal drama for the sake of ratings — as in “Real Housewives,” for instance — is one thing. Playing fast and loose with geography is another, which is why we’re calling out MTV.
In case you missed the story last week, we’re referring to MTV’s new series “The Buried Life,” which purports to be the true-life adventures of four intrepid lads on a mission to complete 100 things they want to do before they die. (Why people in their 20s already have a bucket list is beyond us, but as reality shows go, it’s not a bad premise.)
In one episode, the boys land in San Luis Obispo, where they attempt to throw the most “badass” party ever. To make it a real challenge, SLO is portrayed as your basic, all-American police state.Think of it as an updated version of “Footloose.” Only in this case, the kids can dance — they just can’t do anything else that would remotely qualify as fun.
To underscore that, we’re shown footage of the buried lifers being pulled over by local police.
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Only problem: Real-life authorities in SLO say that encounter was fabricated. Based on the police uniforms and the markings on the squad car, they believe the traffic stop actually took place in L.A. (For the record, MTV wouldn’t comment on where the footage was filmed.)
That wasn’t the only discrepancy in the episode. In another instance, sheriff’s deputies roll to the “badass” party place with sirens blasting. But according to authorities, the sirens could not have been on because the emergency lights on the car weren’t rotating. Oops!
We can understand why local authorities — particularly the SLO Police Department — would object to such obvious mischaracterizations.
But not everyone believes it’s necessarily a bad idea that SLO was portrayed as a jurisdiction that frowns on over-exuberant revelry.
After all, hasn’t the city been trying to crack down on noisy, out-of-control parties that have exacerbated town-gown relations?
This is yet another way to get that point across, especially when you consider that one episode of MTV is bound to reach a much wider audience of young adults than all those “party’s over” PSAs the police have distributed.
But we’re not letting MTV totally off the hook.
Here’s our beef: The producers made lovely, charming SLO — the place we like to call paradise — almost unrecognizable.
The dusty dirt roads, the strip mall architecture, the ramshackle party venue — not exactly the stuff of Sunset magazine.
Where was the mission, the creek, the stately, restored Victorians? Couldn’t we have just one shot of Hearst Castle, Montaña de Oro, or the Avila pier?
Come back, MTV. We aren’t making any promises, but maybe next time, we’ll welcome you with sirens blaring.