POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Jul 17, 2011
What do you get when you put Roseanne Barr on 46 acres of Big Island outback, give her a gun, a seashell honu necklace, some grinning local buddies and a wild pig problem?
Not sure. It seems the network execs aren't sure either. The latest TV show to be shot in Hawaii isn't funny, nor sad nor dramatic. It's not particularly revelatory or entertaining. It's just a rich momona lady yelling at her family. You can see that every day at Roy's Restaurant or the airport.
"Roseanne's Nuts," which premiered at 10 p.m. Wednesday on Lifetime, is a light reality show shot on Barr's mac nut farm in Hamakua, north of Hilo.
The show doesn't have any obvious marks of a runaway hit: no one is bikini-beautiful, careening from addiction, trying to hook up with someone's spouse or competing to construct the best evening gown, risotto or pop song performance. Even Barr's relentless profanity gets dull fairly quickly.
But it does show what Hawaii looks like from the point of view of a rich lady who buys a chunk of land to "get away from" all the things that made her rich, and who then proceeds to construct a semi-retirement out of batik caftans, homegrown vegetables and satellite dishes on the roof (as well as a camera crew.)
Roseanne's Hawaii is untamed ironwood trees, rascally wild pigs and red ti leaf planted by the screen door. It is wine with sunsets, family lounging about her many indoor and outdoor sofas and trips to the crystal mystic healer. It is declarations of how rich she is and then complaints about how much stuff costs. It is little lilts of local dialect slipping in to her stream-of-consciousness diatribes, like "Nice, yeah?"
It's not Dog Chapman's view of urban, bail-skipping Hawaii, nor the Travel Channel's view of Waikiki surf lessons and shave ice. It's not "Hawaii Five-0," though the locals on Barr's show have essentially the same minor roles. It's not the Hawaii of the downtown Honolulu office worker. It's not the Hawaii of the North Shore surfer. It's a Hawaii many who live here won't recognize. It is Barr's surreal reality, goosed up with a big dose of acting up for the cameras.
And then there's Archie, Barr's pig-hunting, go-to guy who walks the fine line between archetype and stereotype. Archie gets called in to help with the wild pigs that run through the farm and eat all the mac nuts.
There is a weird, staged, predictable segment where Barr orders Archie and his hunting buddies (black tank tops, camouflage pants, hunting knives, pit bulls) to kill all the pigs on her property. For a moment, the show turns into one of those cable-access local pig-hunting shows, cameras plowing through the buffalo grass, dogs barking, pigs squealing.
The hunters pin the pig and draw the knife to its neck before Barr proclaims that she cannot order a beating heart to be stilled. Archie and his boys are good-natured in a "hoo boy this lady is crazy" kind of way. Poor Archie. Long after this show is pau and Barr tires of her gentrified farming life, Archie will still be wearing camouflage pants, crooning to his hunting dogs and composing songs on his pakini bass that include the word "chillaxing." Maybe he can get his own hunting show on public access.
Lee Cataluna can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.