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Hillbilly Blood: a Hardscrabbled Life: a Review of Another New Reality Show on America's Destination Channel

Updated on April 19, 2014

Hillbilly Blood: a new idea in reality shows

In all honesty

This review of Hillbilly Blood: a Hardscrabble Life (show) on the Destination America channel, DirecTV, is no coincidence. I had wanted to review this show prior to writing the review on Mountain Monsters seen on the same channel.

It was time. Somehow the producers and personnel of Hillbilly Blood: A Hardscrabble Life, knew it was time for America to have a refreshing change of direction of their choices in reality shows. Enter Hillbilly Blood, a far cry from your normal reality show.

First and foremost

Setting the stage, Hillbilly Blood takes place and is filmed in Cold Mountain, North Carolina, a real place. As the show begins, the voice-over says, "the land is beautiful and the living is tough. In a remote region full of bizarre superstitions, colorful characters, and deep-rooted tradition, folks live off the land just like their parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents before them, carrying on the custom of getting by with little and making do with less."

And this description of the show is true. No film, flam. No glitter or tinsel. Just hard facts about hard-living as seen through the camera lens following the various (and educational) adventures of Eugene Runcus, a self-proclaimed hillbilly inventor and his mountain brother, Spencer "Two-Dogs" Boljack, who seemingly has somehow unlocked a lot of valuable secrets to backwoods survival.

Two necessary footnotes, Eugene Runcus and Spencer Boljack are their real names as other hill folk "celebrities," on the show with names such as: Train Set, Cowboy and his pet squirrel, Angel, David Burnette, who owns and operates a fully-functional sawmill, Cheyenne who owns the local general store, Ben, who Eugene and Spencer not only caught stealing ginseng root, but made him a new friend, which speaks to Eugene and Spencer’s hillbilly roots that include having compassion on those who deserve it. And what is also interesting is that the residents on Cold Mountain use the barter system to get necessities for daily life. Why Ben was arrested was because ginseng is so valuable it is equal to money when bartering for food or other needed-things.

Hillbilly Blood vs. Mountain Monsters

Similar to Mountain Monsters, Hillbilly Blood is based in the Appalachian Mountain Range and with Eugene and Spencer's overcoming weekly obstacles; viewers can take-in the beauty of this locale.

I mentioned that Hillbilly Blood is educational, and it is. Viewers (such as myself) who have no backwoods uncommon sense, can learn things like making a canoe from a tree trunk, brewing potato vodka, building a hot water heater powered by cow piles, which Spencer, on one episode, informs Eugene that sticking a foot infected with foot rot can be cured by sticking the foot into a cow pile.

These are real men saying real things and doing real things. No smoke or mirrors. But even the co-stars, Eugene and Spencer do not win every battle. There are on occasion, projects that are out of their reach lending a wonderful human element to the show.

Unlike Mountain Monsters, Eugene, Spencer, and their regulars actually "do" some things on the show. From making diesel fuel from pig innards, (truth), to finding real gold at the bottom of a secret creek that only Cowboy knows about

Like Mountain Monsters, the people, including Eugene and Spencer do not come off as hillbilly buffoons as mountain people were once cast in film and television. These people are not a dysfunctional lot plus they have wonderful diction and delivery of the dialogue concerning the show's plot.

While our Mountain Monsters gang simply chase mysterious creatures that are never trapped or shot, fans of Hillbilly Blood actually "see" Eugene and Spencer design projects from end to the beginning. A starting and stopping point. No continuing series of only one project.

Personal observations

As real-life which is not all "honey and cake," neither is Hillbilly Blood. There are some things I find, not necessarily disturbing or wrong with the show, but things I wonder about.

What is going to happen one day when Eugene cannot invent "the" device to save the day in a moment's notice? What I mean is Eugene is human with human frailties and the same can be said of Spencer, so depending on the show’s producers, this point is running out of sharp-ideas has probably been considered.

And not to be callus, but is the Great Depression still alive on Cold Mountain?

With all of the natural resources, it seems to me that in 2014, some eager-beaver industrialist should have already moved into this locale and opened up a medium-sized factory to help the residents of Cold Mountain have a better life?

Or an even better question is, do the residents of Cold Mountain actually want to change their lifestyle or leave it the way it is?

Hillbilly Blood, worth your time?

Sorry, but I cannot answer these questions, but I do know this. Hillbilly Blood: A Hardscrabbled Life is a show that the entire family can watch, enjoy, and learn something that might help them survive some dreadful situation in their future.

Credits

The people responsible for Hillbilly Blood are Justin Bondy, field story producer, Krystal Kennedy, co-executive producer, Andrew Lipsonm co-executive producer, Steven Miller, executive producer, Julia Torchine, associate producer: 3net, Jodi Tovay, associate producer, and Patricia Zagarella, co-executive producer.

Spencer (left) and Eugene gather some old siding for another project on Hillbilly Blood.
Spencer (left) and Eugene gather some old siding for another project on Hillbilly Blood.
4 stars for Hillbilly Blood

Comments

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    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      4 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      anonymouse . . .WOW!

      I never knew for how stern Eugene looks into the camera as well as Spencer.

      Thank you for not only reading and commenting on this hub, but for opening my eyes further on how easily I can be fooled with "smoke and mountains."

      I also did a review on Mountain Monsters, another show on this same channel. Would you be so kind as to read that review and comment?

      Thank you.

    • profile image

      Anonymouse 

      4 years ago

      Sorry to pop your bubble, but this show, is as full of smoke and mirrors as any other 'reality' show out there. Nearly everything is faked, from the domesticly plump and obviously hand raised 'just caught' female squirrel acquired for Angel, to many of the locations (some of which are next to parking lots) and techniques portrayed. If you need someone to help you figure out what is real and what isn't, grab the nearest Boy Scout and ask him if he'd dive in a creek in the dead of winter in a sweater. Anyone who has ever camped can point out how, ummm, campy this show is. That said, I agree, it's a lot more fun than the rest of the supposedly real shows out there. A fun fact for you - Cowboy is an actor who played one of the scarier people in Deliverance. He is somewhat of a mountain man too. He and Angel really do share a pair of overalls and really do go to church together. They're often seen in Waynesville, a nearby town that is known for it's art galleries and Folkmoot, the international music festival. Hardly a toothless and uneducated mountain hamlet, Waynesville is leading the country in its green policies. Name another town that has the cahunas to vote against big business - driving one mill out of town and forcing the other to comply with strict pollution laws, just for starters. Because water originates here (water only flows out of the town - none flows in) Waynesville has some of the cleanest, tastiest water you'll ever find - and some of the most protective citizens of that and of all things green. The town library has the first seed library of any book library in the country and offers free seminars and free concerts each week. We've got one of the best regional theaters in the country, as strong a local food and buy local movement as anywhere. And those bartering, shack dwelling brothers? They didn't barter for those clothes from some little old granny who hand whittled her knitting needles and sheared her own sheep. They bought them at the Mast General Store. Google it, and Folkmoot and Waynesville breweries and you'll get an idea of how 'real' the show is. Fun, but not half as fun as living there.

    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      4 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      No, thank you, Sheila, for your kind remarks.

      You might like this show. I do. Some shows these two guys do are a lot better than the Mountain Monsters.

      Thanks, Kenneth

    • profile image

      sheilamyers 

      4 years ago

      I've seen commercials for this one, but haven't watched it yet. It sounds interesting. I'll have to check it out. Thanks for the review.

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