I think we had been on the road less than two months when we got a blog comment from a producer with Punched In The Head Productions (not making that up). They were looking to cast full time RV families for a show on "alternative parenting styles" to be broadcast on the Bravo! Network. At this stage I think they did not yet have an actual program slot, they were just shooting pitch reel. That's where you get some clean footage together to show a network executive when pitching your program idea.
When I first read the blog comment I was unaware that this was a program not already airing. I sent a text to my friend Kelli to see if she'd ever heard of the show or knew anything about it, or if she knew much about Bravo! Network because I was leery of their general content. Her response was something like, "If I can find the show I'll watch an episode for you, you know, just to see if they're going to paint you as hippies who give yourselves home tattoos and make your kids eat scorpions."
I'm going to be honest here and admit that I spent about 36 hours thinking of what a great platform this could be. It wasn't about celebrity because I look tragic on video so I try to avoid cameras unless I'm behind the lens. I was thinking more about getting out our message to a larger audience, of letting go of the classic American dream in favor of simplicity. And hey, if it caused our blog to draw enough traffic to pull in a little coin, well, that would be nice too.
Now, we watch very little television, and almost none of it is reality programming. But we do know enough to know that reality shows are anything but. I'm not a video production expert either but I have enough basic experience in that art to know how easy it is to distort truth with some clever editing. We decided that no matter how careful we were to be our honest selves and put our best foot forward, if they wanted to make us look like freaks to bring in the ratings, they could do so.
In the end it came down to the kids. Television is just like the Internet in that whatever goes out there is out there for good. If a reality show manages to make any one of us look bad that carries weight for all of us. While we could have (and certainly would have) asked the kids for their vote on whether or not to do it, we think they are still too young to make a decision with such potential to impact their futures. We also realized a warped perception of us could have negative consequences for our extended families, Kevin's company, and any organizations we have allied ourselves with.
We never heard anything further on the status of the show. When we met the Boyinks we learned they too had been contacted and turned it down. They knew of one other family who had gone through with the pitch reel but the network did not bite. Apparently they decided full timers are really pretty normal (read: too boring for TV). After a year in that big, vibrant, wonderful community I can say that's pretty accurate.
And ironically, that is as close to reality as reality television is ever going to get.