Today we have a guest post from David Wallach, one of the developers of Rodeo Girls on A&E. He gives a unique perspective into how a potential reality show can go from being a really good, honest idea to being, well, Rodeo Girls.
I have never actually reviewed a show that I was a part of making before. It’s like reviewing your own kid, hard to do.
Rodeo Girls on A&E is different. I was the person in charge of developing the show, which means that I went out to initially meet the cast of characters and shot the demo show that was pitched to sell the concept to the network. I feel far enough apart from the production of the show to be able to look at it and review it, with a little insider’s pepper.
The idea for Rodeo Girls and the resulting Rodeo Girls are two completely different things, which happens, but this time it may have been for the worst.
Rodeo Girls was supposed to be an inside look at the women who travel the road as they train, compete, and try to make a living in the professional barrel racing circuit. While these women may be beautiful, they are tough, determined, and put up with a lot of hardship and problems trying to balance their passion with kids, husbands, and other careers. A solid concept and true to the cast and their real lives.
Here’s how things broke down.
- Darcy La Pier one of the cast members and former wife of just about everybody including Jean Claude Van Damme was the person who thought up the show, meaning she was not only a cast member, but an executive producer. It’s kind of like giving the lunatics the keys to the asylum, never a smart idea.So there’s a lot of Darcy: Darcy in a limo, Darcy undressing, Darcy in a bikini, Darcy talking about her money, Darcy crying (she can do it on cue), a lot of Darcy.
- The cast they put together has the foundation and backstory to make an exceptional show that is relatable to women and men. They deal with depression, abuse, anorexia, poverty, death, and a bevy of other topics. Instead the cameras focus on boobs and women riding horses in bikinis.
- Sarah Mast, the producer who did make the show, was a former producer of The Hills. Watching Rodeo Girls, you will see plenty of similarities between this show and that show, from the loud music to the long stares and snarls between cast members. Rodeo Girls is The Hills on horses.
- The difference between The Hills cast and Rodeo Girls is the women, who, with the exception of Darcy, are actual dedicated riders and had to be talked into doing the show in the first place. They were not comfortable with cameras around them and it shows up on screen.
- Why does it show up on screen? Very much like The Hills, Rodeo Girls is loosely-scripted. If you are a socialite daughter of a star from Beverly Hills you can pull off a mean face or make an argument look authentic. In the first episode, the women are supposed to be bickering and they are smiling, as if they are trying not to laugh at a fart in church. A producer on the show told me the biggest fight had to be re-shot three times.
- Though the thought of watching Jean Claude Van Damme's 50-something ex-wife bounce around on a $250,000 horse may sound fun, there is a part of the viewing audience that isn’t into “cougars,” even multi-million dollar cougars, so we added the “kittens,” young girl eye candy who have yet to have any plastic surgery, look amazing in bikinis (trust me) and bring in a youthful, social media savvy audience.
The hard road would have been to actively go after the original cast that included a gay barrel racer who had to act straight because gays are not warmly welcomed in the rodeo. Or the mom who uses rodeo to deal with the stress of a son with cancer and the millionaire heiress to UPS who can drink, fight, and fuck better than most of the guys in the circuit. That show will never be seen.
The show that you will see is Rodeo Girls, a docu-drama about women who barrel race, have full time make up staff to keep them camera ready and do their best not to giggle on camera.
With the exception of Darcy La Pier, women like Barb West, Marvel Murphy, and Sadie Sullivan are actual hard riding, butt kicking, buckle wearing rodeo girls who bring a level of authenticity that the show would otherwise completely lack.
If you like horses and rodeo the photography of the events is second to none, when the music isn’t blaring over the women racing you can hear them as they yell, kick and scream at their horses to make it around the barrels. It makes you feel like you are riding along.
Could I have done better as a producer, who knows? I have produced a lot of unwatchable junk in my life as well; check out Sins and Secrets-Omaha for evidence of that.
Would I watch Rodeo Girls if I wasn’t a part of the team that created it? That question kept me up most of the night. Once, to see what it’s like, but that’s about it.
A&E gave the show 6 episodes, which isn’t a lot to develop characters, story line or even invest in what’s happening. It’s a snap shot of the life of people in the rodeo, since they shot and re-shot for five months and were only able to cut 6 episodes out of all that footage. If you are interested in watching Rodeo Girls, watch it while it lasts, because odds are it has already been put out to pasture and isn’t coming back.
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