At the ReelzChannel Television Critics Association event, we were introduced to the network's newest reality-show additions to their movie-screening lineup. "The Capones" and "Hollywood Hillbillies" both follow their respective families in all of their loud-mouthed and comedic glory. The former focuses on an Italian restaurateur family that claims to be related to the infamous Chicago gangster Al Capone; the latter looks into the family of Michael Kittrell, who gained Internet fame for his YouTube video "GINGERS DO HAVE SOULS!," which has had more than 34 million views since it was posted in January 2010. They don't have much in common, but they do have enough crazy for us to anticipate their freshman seasons.
1. The Reality of Reelz Reality Shows
Among some of the more intense questioning during the "Capones" panel was a general distrust about the origins of the name. According to Dominic "The Boss" Capone, who is considered the center of the Italian Mafia-descended family, the relationship is through his great-great-grandfather, who was Al Capone's uncle.
The claim has drawn out some controversy, and that's in addition to the perpetual cynicism about the general truthfulness of reality shows. Bartolomeo "Bart" Tumbarello said of the show that "95 percent of it is real and 5 percent of it is truth."
When the "Hollywood Hillbillies" crew came out, they confronted the concern straight on. "My family is not fake," said son Michael "The Angry Ginger" Kittrell.
2. Crazy Phrases
The strangest things to come out of the mouths of these newest reality TV families were not their claims of realism, though. The "Hollywood Hillbillies" in particular were full of casual witticisms. At one point, Delores "Mema" Hughes went on a tangent over having to pay for one of the snacks from her room, remarking belligerently, "Don't eat anything in your room unless you're willing to pay for it." When asked how the family would react to being made fun of as reality-show stars, Hughes said, "Well, basically I don't give a damn."
For the "Capones" bunch, however, the craziest exclamations came from the apparent rivalry between Staci "The Princess" Richter and her mother-in-law-to-be, Dawn "Ma" Capone. When Capone criticized Richter's insufficient work ethic, "The Princess" responded, "[Dominic Capone] doesn't want me to work because I have to save energy for him." There was visible tension, and as executive producer Jonathan Koch said, "They have no filter," which can only mean that there's more of the same family drama to look forward to.
Ultimately, these shows are a combination of all that family reality television has to offer. From the previews, they appear to be a natural progression from the current state of the genre. Reelz even described "Hollywood Hillbillies" as "Beverly Hillbillies Meets Honey Boo Boo." We hope to see it live up to that name. Guess we'll find out this fall.
Check out our slideshow of stars at the Television Critics Association Summer 2013 press tour: