There’s a scene, early in the third episode of “Tuckerville,” the new reality series starring country performer Tanya Tucker on TLC (Comcast cable channel 45), in which the eponymous star reprimands her in-house – and I have to put the quotation marks around this – “executive assistant,” Annie Carroll.
You’ll have to witness the scene to understand both why the job title may be a bit inflated, and to experience the most flagrant of performances in the show.
A peculiar selection for a channel best known for its emergency room documentaries of gore, “Tuckerville” promises to detail the home life of the 1991 CMA Female Vocalist of the Year, the star whose career has spanned over thirty years. Though she’s loathe to admit it, according to a recent profile in the Tennessean, Tucker is primed for another comeback, this time owing more to new media (from the television show to a bestselling book, “100 Ways to Beat the Blues”) than old (her most recent album, “Tanya,” faltered at both radio and retail upon its release nearly three years ago).
As with the exterior scenes captured on USA Networks’ “Nashville Star,” it’s always a joy to critique the ways certain scenery shots are spliced together in an effort to represent Nashville to the masses: watch and wonder, like I do, how a certain character can drive from the interstate to Music Row by way of Lower Broad, for example. To all but the locals, it seems there is no such area or community here in town that isn’t connected to the music industry.
The primary characters in “Tuckerville” include Tanya and her three children: Presley, 16; Grayson, 14; and Layla, 6, all of whom are simply the most adorable kids in history. They are all home schooled, according to the Tennessean article, the realities of which I’d like see explored more here. In the four episodes that have broadcast, the two eldest have routinely been portrayed as spoiled to a point of disbelief.
Grayson buys a pet snake against his mother’s wishes. Presley lies about attending a county fair and goes with friends – shockingly, because one only assumes they are all underage – to Tootsies, the historic bar on Lower Broad. In both instances, the matriarch of the clan is either ambivalent (about the snake) or more interested in the appurtenant event of the evening (at the bar).
The sprawling mansion the Tuckers call home is as much a character in the series. If they wanted to throw the reality at us hard, the TLC website could acknowledge this with a blueprint of the home; the entire third floor that Tanya uses as a clothes closet intrigues the life outta me. And where exactly is that huge trampoline located?
Other ancillary characters at times seem more professionally coordinated than truly coincidental: the LoCash Cowboys, a local country band, have enjoyed walk-on cameos no less than three times already. Adam Davis, better known to locals at “Intern Adam” from the morning show at radio station The River (107.5 FM), has been hired as a personal assistant to Tucker and will be featured in upcoming episodes. One hopes his role in the household is more substantive, or at least sold to us as such.
None of which is to suggest the show isn’t enjoyable. The best of reality television asks – or better, winks and nudges – the audience into finding a point of the narrative in which to comply with the scenario presented, and “Tuckerville” doesn’t fail. When Presley takes the stage for the first time, in episode four, and Tanya shortly thereafter runs back into the limelight for an adjustment only a country star-slash-mother could fix, we don’t care if that’s what really happened.
It was just great television – especially give the suspense was heightened by the classic reality TV ploy: a sudden commercial break.