Marcia Brady has “Gone Country”

OK, I’m part of the problem.
I’m calling her Marcia Brady instead of Maureen McCormick, and she’s doing this American Idol meets The Surreal Life reality show
partly because she’s sick of everyone calling her Marcia.

But I’m a child of the ’70s.
And once a Brady, always a Brady.

However, I’m also a country
music fan, and that’s what’s drawing me toward and repelling me from
the new CMT show Gone Country. I watched the first episode of it
this weekend and was not as horrified as I expected to be. But I was
a little horrified.

The premise is your basic fish-out-of-water reality
show: Seven mostly non–country music professionals are competing to
be the next big country sensation. And, of course, they’re living together
in a mansion and sharing bedrooms — because that’s what people on reality
shows do. It’s not really clear what all of their agendas are.

Dee Snider (of Twisted
fame) doesn’t like country music and seems most interested
in getting into a pissing match with Bobby Brown. Bobby Brown,
however, seems pretty interested in exploring another type of music.

Sisqo (of “Thong Song” fame) seems pretty interested in the
musical challenge as well. And I cannot really tell what Julio Iglesias
is doing there, but host/judge John Rich
(of Big & Rich) seems very interested in developing an artist
who will appeal to a Latino audience.

And then there are the women.

American Idol runner-up Diana DeGarmo is “in
it to win it.”

Former Wilson Phillips
member and talk show host Carnie Wilson seems determined to
battle some personal demons.

And, of course, Maureen McCormick
wants to establish herself as Maureen rather than Marcia. And she
also seems to want to cry a lot. And to smoke cigarettes with Bobby

There’s definitely an element
of Rhinestone
here. (Dolly Parton bragged that she could turn anyone
into a country singer, and proved it with cabbie Sylvester Stallone.)

Of course, all of these performers
are professional musicians of one stripe or another. And Maureen McCormick
actually released a country album (which I own!) in 1995. (This was
in addition to her Brady-era LPs.)

Therefore, it may be a little
more like The
Thing Called Love
in which Samantha Mathis, Sandra Bullock, River Phoenix

and Dermot Mulroney were all mentored by KT Oslin
in their quest to write the breakthrough country song — and find themselves
in the process.

And there’s a touch of The
Simple Life
as they do things like shovel the things one shovels
in a barn in order to learn that being “country” is more than songwriting
and singing.

As a country music fan, I’m
encouraged that the competition is as much about songwriting as it is
about performance. Because, in my opinion, a good country song has a
little bit of twang, perhaps a little steel guitar and, definitely,
a good story. (According to David Allan Coe, the perfect country
and western song

has to mention mama, trains, trucks, prison and/or getting drunk.)
So, I’m hoping that this show will be more than wearing cowboy hats,
playing the rhinestone-studded Gibson guitars the contestants were issued
and affecting a country accent. But I’m not exactly holding my breath.

However, now that I’ve stupidly watched
the first episode, it’s a pretty safe bet I’m going to keep watching
to see what happens.

Any other country music fans
out there drawn to this train wreck?