“Hillbilly Preppers”

This paper will examine the intersection between reality television series depicting those preparing for cataclysmic events (such as Doomsday Preppers, Doomsday Castle, Apocalypse Preppers, and Meet the Preppers) and reality television series largely set within Appalachia (such as Appalachian Outlaws, Buckwild, Call of the Wild Man, Hillbilly Blood, Moonshiners, and Mountain Monsters). Particularly, this paper will focus upon the reality TV show Prepper Hillbillies (2014, Destination America). Common assumptions about and stereotypes of Appalachians can also be seen in tropes of prepper reality shows, which frequently depict preppers as ex-military, family-centered, knowledgeable of local flora and its uses, proficient in the use of firearms, rural, suspicious of government and strangers, and displaying stigmatized knowledge claims, the last as defined by Michael Barkun in A Culture of Conspiracy (2013). However, despite these shared characteristics, prepper shows tend not focus more attention on Appalachia than other regions of the United States. Through an analysis of Prepper Hillbillies, as well as a comparative analysis of prepper and Appalachian reality tv shows, this paper examines how even within a genre which one would assume would present Appalachia as normative, Appalachia is Othered. In other words, anyone from anywhere can be a prepper, but an Appalachian prepper is necessarily a hillbilly prepper.