How many kinds of "Southern" accents are there? I counted a different type for each member of the cast of Party Down South on CMT, the latest clique of sweet naive alcoholics-to-be to take over summer TV.
Considering their first season was CMT's highest rated original programming, it makes sense the network got the $500 together for a second servin' of this conceptual love child of MTV's Jersey Shore and TLC's Honey Boo Boo. The formula is cheap and no-fail, like a box of Duncan Hines cake mixed with a cup'a fruit cocktail: Rent a house in the middle of Georgia, bring in eight kids so eager to get out of their parent's houses they'll kick down the front doors on the way out, and soak every interaction in alcohol.
For a party Down South, one of the more racially diverse regions of the US, it's a weirdly all-white bunch. Also the socioeconomic Othering behind the term "redneck" could be a whole other article. But let's switch our brains off for a moment and meet the cast:
Lyle. This dude yells all the time. I think it's so he doesn't hear his feelings. He apparently also blows into a duck call during sex, maybe for the same reason. He entered the house screaming excitedly and stood in the kitchen hollering "YES INDEED LET'S GET THIS STARTED" like it would wipe out all the social nuance of him being alone in the house with the girl he'd had sex with while blowing on said duck caller whistle. Later he disappeared into a chicken coop and designated them his new friends. Is this social anxiety? His accent is sort of Cajun-y.
Meet Lil' Bit, a fun-size version of Kristin Cavallari with the same "house mascot" vibe as Snooki. Lil' Bit is twice as loud as she is tall and has a serious off screen boyfriend, who she almost immediately called up all "Iiiii miiiisss you." Lil' Bit's accent sounds sort of like Kristin Chenoweth on meth.
Everyone calls Daddy "Daddy" or "Father" in a way that makes me slightly uncomfortable. He clearly works out, peed next to the porch before he went in the house, and immediately broke out a "beer shotgun" with the goal of getting everyone drunk as fast as possible. Hoisted on his own petard, he was almost immediately the drunkest person on the show, and I mean belligerently profoundly drunk, half-naked, stumbling around, totally out of it. Again, this might be social anxiety.
Daddy is clearly sweating Lil' Bit, and the reveal that she's found a serious boyfriend between seasons sent him into a towel-draped fugue. His boiling rage when he found out she was sexually unavailable sent shivers down my spine, not least of all because he's 2-3x her size. Daddy has what I consider a "regular Southern accent."
Tiffany speaks sort of like how an Irish person might if they were trying to put on a Southern accent, like a lead in Dunbar High School's production of Steel Magnolias or something. Maybe I have just not been to her area, but it really sounds like she's got a wee bit of a brogue. Tiffany skillfully, patiently handled Daddy when he was shitfaced with the impersonal indulgence ("we need to just put him to bed") of someone who's clocked serious time with drunks. Tiffany, what is your story? How many lean on your strength? Do you have blue streaks in your hair?
Murray is a cheerful "party animal" and "possible misogynist" who openly harassed mothers, grandmothers, baby sitters and any other females who drove by his car on the way down to Georgia with signs reading "show me your tits," etc., pressed to his passenger's side door. Then later he redeemed himself by calming Daddy down at the height of Daddy's rage by removing all of his clothes. Yes, Murray just quietly revealed all of his soft human body with all the cameras rolling to bring peace to the house in an almost Dadaist act of mediation. I am not sure if he's a hero or a villain. He has a voice like a thousand cigarettes doing an impression of Slingbade.
Walt has a lot of white tee-shirts. He seemed totally chill until he stood up halfway through a conversation with Tiffany and pissed out the living room window. He has the lovely Texas accent of most of my extended family, making this betrayal of social mores all the more jarring to me.
Lauren had the fling with Lyle. Her whole family saw, and during her goodbye dinner her grandpa charmingly blew on a duck whistle to rag her about it. Lauren seems determined to make it through this season with her goddamn dignity intact, which translates to her appearing in frame not smiling a lot. Stay strong, baby girl! She has an accent like the guide at the Alamo in Pee Wee's Big Adventure who says to the whole group, "CAN YOU SAY TOR-TILLA?"
Mattie is the JWoww, and I don't just mean because she's tall and insanely gorgeous, I mean she seems to have a bit of a New Jersey accent? Am I crazy? She's probably my favorite though as she was the first to go help Lil' Bit with her bags and stuck around to help Daddy carry in his luggage was well. She was staring in wide-eyed, childlike shock when Murray dropped trou. She's stated she's single, with an intention to "mingle," which is generally a good goal in your early 20's.
So what, dumplin's? Are you going to attend this party down South? Do you find it "cultural pornography" that undermines actual Southern culture? Is it essentially a children's party for 20 year olds? Are you willing to watch Lil' Bit and Daddy hunker down to simultaneously lust after and destroy each other in the painful rituals of the young and vulnerable? Is all the pissing a bit much? And seriously, how many accents did you count?
[Images via CMT ]