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Cajuns AreAll the Rage

When it comes to popular reality
series destinations, the Jersey Shore has nothing
on Cajun country in Louisiana.

Nearly a dozen reality shows currently
emanate in and around the Pelican state
staring charismatic, eccentric and oftentimes
unorthodox characters ranging from
quirky exterminators (A&E’s Billy the Exterminator)
to hand fish-catching fishermen
(Animal Planet’s Hillbilly Handfishin’) to
backwoods duck hunters (A&E’s Duck Dynasty).
For networks like A&E, Animal Planet,
CMT and History, which offer up these
Cajun-flavored TV shows, the hillbilly lifestyle
is as much in vogue with viewers as
those of wealthy housewives or “bad girls.”

Of the nine Louisiana-based shows that
aired in February, all but two generated ratings
higher than their respective network’s average
primetime rating, according to cable research
firm Topping the charts were History’s
Swamp People and Cajun Pawn.

Swamp People, which follows the lives of alligator
hunters living in Louisiana’s Atchafalaya
River Basin swamp, averaged a 1.4 rating,
12% above History’s primetime average, while
Cajun Pawn — a Louisiana-based off shoot of
the network’s popular Pawn Stars series —
drew a 1.3 rating and 9% increase over History’s
February primetime average.

“It’s a popular genre because of the characters,”
Gary Lico, president and CEO of CableU.
tv, said. “Evidently the number of teeth
needed to star in a reality show has dropped

Lico added that shows like Discovery’s Rajun
or CMT’s Bayou Billionaire provide
a curious fascination for viewers who don’t live
that life or want to learn more about the bayou

“I believe the people watch to say, ‘I like
hunting but I’d never to what these guys do,’ ”
he said. “People don’t want to watch TV to see
themselves, but to see how other people live.”

The shows also draw in a hard-to-reach
viewing demographic: men 18-49 and 25-54,
according to CableU.

“These are action shows that appeal to male
viewers,” he said. “I don’t think watching a guy
with four teeth sticking his hand down a fish’s
throat will probably not skew heavily female
on the surface — it’s not like natural historythemed
programming. “

Despite the continued expansion and ratings
success of the genre — A&E’s March 21
debut of Duck Dynasty, which follows a familyrun
duck hunting business, drew 1.8 million
viewers and 1 million adults 18 to 49 — Lico
says that the genre is not yet in any danger of

“As long as there are rich characters doing
something that hasn’t been on television before,
it becomes a possible show,” he said.