Published January 23 2012
From oil to housewives, North Dakota reality TV ideasEllen Shafer thinks reality television is a misnomer.
“They’re looking for drama and conflict; they’re not looking at reality,” she says about the programs that populate TV schedules.
Even with that outlook, the owner of Shafer Public Relations in Fargo has a rather interesting idea about what kind of reality TV show could be developed in North Dakota.
She suggests merging the fish-out-of-water motif of early “Real World” casts with the economic boon of our state’s rich Oil Patch.
Her pitch: Bring together eight different people from all over the world and give them jobs in the state’s oil fields with some of the cast working the rigs, some driving water trucks, some in the business offices of oil companies, etc.
“That would be fascinating reality TV, if we were brave enough to do that,” Shafer says, referencing our state culture’s tendency to be somewhat guarded and modest.
Riffing off of Shafer’s wonderful idea, we brainstormed a few reality TV scenarios to stage in North Dakota:
- “The Real Housewives of Minot”: We like to imagine Minot has a small population of wealthy oil wives who hate living in a city that doesn’t have valet parking or shops that sell purses for more than four figures. This show would follow the oil wives as they adapt to and clash with a city still trying to recover from last year’s flood.
Episode we want to watch: The “cultured” oil wives at the Norsk Hostfest.
- “Flood Fighters of North Dakota”: This reality show would follow the various people who battle the floodwaters of the Red River, Souris River, Devils Lake or any other collection of water that threatens our livelihood.
Episode we want to watch: Any scene of people fighting flooding during a blizzard. Because, as we all know too well, it’s a surreal experience.
- “Country Girl/City Girl”: Two coeds share a dorm room at North Dakota State University. One is from a ranch in rural North Dakota. The other is a Twin Cities sophisticate who only dates guys with trust funds. Of course, their ideals collide in entertaining ways.
Episode we want to watch: When the City Girl visits the Country Girl’s ranch during a cattle drive.
- “Finding Sakakawea”: One thing we’ve learned in the past six months, Sakakawea is more popular than we believed. This show would follow our state’s Sakakawea historians as they retrace the legendary woman’s steps in North Dakota and beyond.
Episode we want to see: The one when Sakakawea experts get into a fistfight over the correct spelling and pronunciation of her name.
- “Winter Warriors”: A cross section of people from around the nation/world have to live together during a North Dakota winter, but they have to do it using the technology from 1886. We’ll let them have modern clothing, but that’s it.
Episode we want to watch: The first one, when the contestants realize they have to use an outhouse in subzero temperatures.
Readers can reach Forum Variety Editor Robert Morast at (701) 241-5518