Reality Bites: Only in America with Larry the Cable Guy

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The History Channel never really had a chance.

Sorry, it just goes by "History" now, but they're not fooling anyone. Almost since its origin, the channel's been a running punch line for its heavy dependence on World War II material (and that war's most recognizable antagonist), before swerving sharply into WTF? territory with MonsterQuest The Real Scorpion King, and 9/11 Conspiracies: Fact or Fiction?

And while we can argue the relative merits of Life After People until the zombie apocalypse descends upon us, the final insult to anyone with an honest interest in the subject of history just might be giving a show to Larry the Cable Guy, whose last brush with the subject was probably getting kicked out of "The United States: 1865 to The Present" for drawing cocks on his book cover.

Even "Larry's" own bio is what we history majors would call revisionist: Born Daniel Whitney in Nebraska, he adopted a Southern accent as part of his stand-up persona, leading to lucrative comedy tours and starring roles in the two worst Pixar movies.

The show itself finds Larry delving into professions, hobbies and interests that one can only find domestically. As he puts it in the intro:

Listen up, America. I'm Larry the Cable Guy, and I love this country. So I decided to find out all the things that make this country great. The people, the history, the way we do things. Only in America.

Larry's reverence for his homeland is evident in the opening scenes of the episode I watched ("Larry Herds Dinosaurs"), as the camera panned past a crew member urinating on the side of the road as Larry walked by. This would, incidentally, be the first of two onscreen urinations.

A pattern emerges early on (which I was grateful for because it allowed me to fast-forward large sections of the show in order to return to more important tasks, like scraping wax out of my ear with a bent paper clip): Larry travels with his crew to visit one of the show's subjects, telling jokes that they obligingly laugh at, thus reinforcing his status as a blue-collar king of comedy.

The effect is reduced somewhat when he tries it with the actual subjects of the show, who chuckle hesitantly at Larry's probably unwelcome sexual innuendoes.

I saw the epsiode where he pays a visit to a man and wife who milk venomous spiders for their poison, a profession with important medical ramifications. Larry gets right to the point: "Did y'all know that spiders inject poison into the insects they catch?" No, Larry, because just like you we all slept through those Disney nature documentaries they showed in grade school.

The worst part is: None of the people "History" inflicts him upon deserve this shit. The spider couple have to traipse out in the Arizona desert every day looking for lethal arachnids, yet their reward for this largely thankless job is Larry the Cable Guy farting, feigning vomiting and offering play-by-play while tarantulas mate. It's precisely as entertaining as it sounds, and their strained smiles speak volumes.

Larry also visits the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group, a.k.a. "The Boneyard," in Tuscon. As you can imagine, this impressive facility housing some 4,400 military aircraft affords one the ability to reflect on the majesty of U.S. air power and the effort involved in maintaining them.

Or, if you're Larry, it's the opportunity to make a bunch of fat jokes. Let that one sink in for a second: Larry is one Quarter Pounder with Cheese away from three bills and he has the balls to comment on Gov. Chris Christie and Honey Boo Boo's mother. Hell, as I was typing that, he made a hee-larious aside about Louie Anderson's ranch dressing habit.

So thanks but no thanks, History. Maybe a five-night LBJ documentary hosted by Robert Caro wouldn't have been everybody's cup of tea, but you could've tried a little harder for a happy medium between that and the embarrassment of giving a show to this oafish hillbilly.

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