“Welcome to Myrtle Manor” has me nervous.
I’m not concerned that the reality show based in Patrick’s Mobile Home Park off Highway 15 will sully the Myrtle Beach brand.
It won’t. It can’t.
That brand is too powerfully-associated with beaches and bikinis and golf courses to be undermined by a 10-week series on TLC, the network that also airs shows such as “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo.”
I’m more concerned that it will become another touchstone, the latest in a long line of efforts to ridicule working class whites, one of the final groups in this country so many still seem comfortable freely and breezily mocking.
The show, which premi at 10 p.m. March 3, supposedly follows “Becky,” the park’s new owner as she attempts to turn the community into a five-star resort, according to press material.
The “cast” includes a former drag queen and a Goth wiccan.
There will be “wacky hijinks and relationship drama,” evictions and backyard brawls and “never a dull moment.”
“While at first glance it seems very different from the places most of us live, at its core, it’s a neighborhood and although these colorful characters may argue, scream and fight, at the end of the day, they abide by trailer park law – you mess with one, you mess with the whole trailer park,” the show’s promos said.
Sight unseen, the show seems like another attempt to turn flesh-and-blood human beings into circus attractions, even though it’s not impossible for a show with this type of subject to be done well, even uplifting.
Myrtle Beach is made up of all sorts of people. It’s one of the most colorful, if not most colorful, places in the country to live.
There is even a sense of pride here about that reality.
The interplay among long-term residents, recent transplants and tourists is almost always electric.
That’s why we poke fun at ourselves from time to time.
But the danger in such national portrayals is that IT builds upon subtle and not-so-subtle stereotypes that demean working-class whites.
Such a thing has tangible effects and is probably why poor whites are the most under-represented group on elite college campuses.
And while Grand Strand residents know about the plantations that dotted our area and left a horrible legacy for black people, they are less aware of the indentured servitude that has handcuffed working-class whites with a similar legacy.
“Myrtle Manor” doesn’t seem like the reality show that recently spruced up a restaurant in Murrells Inlet or “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” which came to this area twice.
One left a small business with a potentially brighter economic future.
The other left behind large, brand new valuable homes for two deserving, needy families and inspired a gaggle of churches, nonprofits, individuals and small builders to follow suit, to help other needy people throughout the Grand Strand.
What will “Myrtle Manor” leave?
Contact ISSAC J. BAILEY at firstname.lastname@example.org or at Twitter at @TSN_IssacBailey.