'Washington Heights' and 'Buckwild' review: Both draw 'Jersey Shore' comparisons

Washington Heights, a new MTV reality series following

Washington Heights, a new MTV reality series following nine best friends from the vibrant and diverse New York neighborhood of Washington Heights, premieres Wednesday. (Credit: MTV)

THE SHOWS "Washington Heights" and "Buckwild"

WHEN | WHERE Wednesday night at 10 and Thursday night at 10, respectively, on MTV

WHAT THEY'RE ABOUT Manhattan's Washington Heights, predominantly Dominican and predominantly north of 155th Street, gets it own reality show, beginning with this two-hour launch that introduces viewers to a bunch of friends who are navigating life and (occasionally) each other. They are: JP, aspiring rapper, self-appointed keeper of the peace among the friends; hot-tempered Reyna; Frankie, a spoken-word performer and close pal of Taylor; Jimmy, aspiring pro baseball player; Ludwin, an artist; Eliza, into fashion (and Ludwin); Rico, JP's closest friend; and Fred, also into fashion.

Meanwhile, "Buckwild" -- which is more conspicuously "Jersey Shore," although set in West Virginia -- is about a bunch of pals who raise hell, party and rile the neighbors. They are: good ol' boy Shain; Anna, aka "the Ringleader"; tomboy Ashley; Shae, looking for eligible bachelors and vice versa; Joey, who's called "Justin Beaver" because, well, who knows why; redhead Cara, another wild child; Tyler, the pretty boy; Katie, on the cautious side; and Salwa, eldest of the group.

MY SAY The yin and yang of post-"Jersey Shore" MTV is pretty much bound up in a pair of newcomers -- "Buckwild," which launched last week, and "Washington Heights," arriving Wednesday. They're opposites in tone, style and geography (West Virginia versus Manhattan), though both offer the same implicit promise, which is that if you watch just long enough, and through enough commercial breaks, a couple of women will get into a wild, drunken, hair-pulling fight. That's the "Jersey Shore" legacy -- hair will be pulled, and hair is.

Beyond that, you have two massively different shows. "Buckwild" isn't offensive as much as just boneheaded -- almost as much "Jackass" as "Shore." It's about high-spirited young'uns living life to the extreme -- which is to say, often drunk while performing stupid human tricks that could result in bodily harm. It's "Jersey Shore" in the sticks, while the cast -- though still self-conscious in front of cameras in the season premiere -- seemed to have carefully studied, and even mimic, the masters of moronity who occupied this time slot for the past six seasons.

By contrast, "Heights" almost feels like atonement for the biggest hit in MTV history. The kids don't swear (much), esteem their elders, work at their dreams and have no obvious or debilitating vices -- until they drink (then, pull hair: see above). "Heights" mostly respects its namesake community and those who live there; "Buckwild" mostly trashes its West Virginia community and those who live there. Guess which show stands the greater chance of success? Sorry, but that's show biz.

BOTTOM LINE City kids who seem more real than phony vs. country boobs with a crude 'tude.

GRADES

"Washington Heights" B

"Buckwild" C-

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