For the last few years, there has been a fascination with reality television programs that focus on blue-collar folks and their working class jobs often overlooked by the mainstream. With shows centering on everything from bounty hunters to ice truckers to pawn shop extraordinaires, it was only a matter of time before the likes of Lizard Lick Towing rolled into town.
Ron and Amy Shirley and Bobby Brantley of Lizard Lick Towing are no strangers to television – they were featured on truTV’s All Worked Up, a show centered on workers in the rowdiest of occupations, from bouncers to repo men. Although the three big personalities must have made a big enough impression on fans and truTV producers alike, this time the gang looks as though they are trying a little too hard to justify having their own show.
The series premiere of Lizard Lick Towing follows Ron and Bobby as they attempt to tow a car belonging to an ex-con, where they are met with resistance, to put it lightly, in an ordeal that only lasts about 10 minutes. Everything else happens as if the makers of Lizard Lick were going down a list: Fight with another “customer”, fight with each other, attend softball game, the use of numerous Southern sayings, like “Boy, I’m happier than a shoe fly in an outhouse.”
No reality show is even close to being completely real – if you are lucky, a show will be half real and half television production. The biggest problem with Lizard Lick is that the “reality” feels too scripted and the personality feels too forced. You could set your watch for the various climaxes, hooks or “reality moments” that occur in the series: Every 5 minutes there is a fist fight, every 4 minutes Amy is yelling at the boys for being too reckless and every 3 minutes there is the obligatory in-studio aside in which one of the stars explains or clarifies something that does not even need to be said.
Lizard Lick is a very plot oriented reality show, not to mention only 30 minutes in length, which ends up stifling the character development – the sole factor that makes or breaks a reality show. Ron, Amy and Bobby seem like very gregarious people, but Lizard Lick looks less like a program about three old friends running a tow truck business, and more like three cast members putting on a show about a tow truck business.
Most of the interactions come in the form of bickering, which does not feel natural, or in the form of flat-out fighting, which does not feel real or warranted to the situation for that matter. Even when Ron turns on the macho charm for the camera, he looks like he is performing, which is a shame – he seems like he could be a really interesting person to watch.
One thing that struck me throughout the series was the lack of towing; in the pilot episode of the show they have one tow job, and it is taken care of (sort of) in the beginning of the show. I know nothing about the tow truck business, and although I’m not exactly looking to fill that particular hole in my life, I am also not above seeing how tow truckers live and work. In these kinds of shows that are built around the less conventional of occupations, the job always needs to be in the background – it needs to function as the setting.
truTV’s All Worked Up has a lot of episodes under its belt; these folks at Lizard Lick were chosen for a spin-off for a reason. If the gang could focus less on performing and carry on business as usual in front of cameras, Lizard Lick Towing may be worth watching. Their business has enough craziness on its own, and they seem like a fun, kooky bunch – there’s no need for them to pretend.