America's glimpse into the lives of nine Wild, Wonderful West Virginians is coming to an end.
A week after the death of "Buckwild" cast member Shain Gandee, MTV has pulled the plug on the reality series.
"After careful consideration, MTV will not be moving forward with season two of 'Buckwild' in West Virginia," the network said in a statement Wednesday. "We love the cast and the show and this was not an easy decision, but given Shain's tragic passing and essential presence on the show, we felt it was not appropriate to continue without him."
However, a previously taped special will air this weekend.
"On Sunday, we will be running a special 'Buckwild: WV to the NYC,' which was shot before production had begun on season two," the statement continues. "With the support of his parents, Dale and Loretta Gandee, we will run the tribute following a day of programming dedicated to Shain in which we will air the entire first season of 'Buckwild.'"
Loretta included her own statement, thanking fans for their support after the loss of her 21-year-old son.
“Thanks to everyone for their thoughts and prayers during this incredibly difficult time for our family," she said. "We have truly felt all the love and know that Shain is resting peacefully. Shain was an incredible, outgoing, and positive person who was loved by whoever he met. We are honored that we were able to let the world see what a wonderful son we had. He was the best son anyone could ask for. As we look to honor him in our lives every day moving forward, we are happy to share some of his last moments doing what he loved best: having fun and making people laugh."
Production on "Buckwild" had been halted after Gandee was found dead along with his uncle and a friend, on April 1. After a late night at a bar in Sissonville, West Virginia, where the show filmed, the trio had gone off-roading. The cause of death was determined to be carbon monoxide poisoning, likely due to the tailpipe of Gandee's truck being submerged in mud.
While there was enough footage for several episodes of the second season of the series, "MTV executives couldn't see anyway to continue the series without Gandee," who was the breakout star of the show, Deadline reports.
J.P. Williams, who produced the show and manages most of the cast, was shocked by MTV's decision and vented to The Hollywood Reporter on Tuesday night.
"This is the network that has shows about teen pregnancy. They'll stick by a show that allows you to abandon a child, but a kid dies by accident doing what he does for a living [mudding] and they cancel the show?” he fumed. “There's something that smells of s**t here on every level."
He also announced his plans to continue shooting the show — and said he's also is looking into making a "Buckwild" movie.
"My job is to protect these kids,” he told THR, noting: “This will get ugly.”
Gandee's death wasn't the only drama surrounding the series, which was dubbed "The Jersey Shore of Appalachia." After it premiered to a viewership of 2.49 million in January, cast member Salwa Amin was arrested for drug possession and then was picked up again when she subsequently skipped her court date. Michael Burford was busted for DUI.
The show also caused controversy within West Virginia. Before it even aired, Joe Manchin III, who is the junior United States Senator from the state, sent a letter to MTV President Stephen Friedman asking that the network “put a stop to the travesty called ‘Buckwild.'"
“As a U.S. Senator, I am repulsed at this business venture, where some Americans are making money off of the poor decisions of our youth,” Manchin wrote. “I cannot imagine that anyone who loves this country would feel proud profiting off of ‘Buckwild.' … Instead of showcasing the beauty of our people and our state, you preyed on young people, coaxed them into displaying shameful behavior -- and now you are profiting from it. That is just wrong.”
- Arts & Entertainment