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Published January 23 2012

From oil to housewives, North Dakota reality TV ideas

Ellen 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:

Episode we want to watch: The “cultured” oil wives at the Norsk Hostfest.

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.

Episode we want to watch: When the City Girl visits the Country Girl’s ranch during a cattle drive.

Episode we want to see: The one when Sakakawea experts get into a fistfight over the correct spelling and pronunciation of her name.

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