Appalachian Cultural Stereotypes: TV Show “Outsiders”

Friday Fare to Appalachia


There have always been television shows and movies that supposedly portray Appalachian or hillbilly culture. The newest one on the scene is a show on the WGN station called Outsiders. Set in the present time and in a county in Eastern Kentucky, Outsiders has now run two seasons and has been renewed for a third. It is about a large, extended family, living on the top of one of the high Eastern Kentucky mountains called (fictitiously) Shay Mountain.

The Farrell Clan has lived on Shay Mountain for 200 years. They have lived “off the grid” and outside the bounds of society, adhering to many of the “old” ways of Appalachia and making up a few “ways” of their own. No one from the town at the foot of the mountain bothers them. They make “Farrell wine” which is moonshine and a few of the retail establishments in town sell it. Under the counter, of course.

The Farrell’s steal food, guns, and other supplies from the town below them. The Sheriff’s Department ignores them, knowing that to challenge them is asking for more problems than they can handle. They make their own clothing, their medicine from herbs, and build their own shacks. One member of the clan has tried to join town society but has been cast out and cast out of the Farrell society as well.

A coal company has come into the town and they want to strip mine the mountain under a state order, forcing the eviction of the Farrell Clan. The Farrell’s are determined to hold on to their land by any means possible including violence.

This show has adult content with considerable sex and violence.

Review: If you want a rather over-the-top view of parts of current day Appalachia, the Outsiders is certainly entertaining. The website calls it a cross between Sons of Anarchy and Justified. This writer would say that it comes down more on the Sons of Anarchy side with Justified being pretty tame as compared to Outsiders. If people unfamiliar with Appalachia want to see all of the bad and very little of the good about the region, watch Outsiders. On the other hand, the show does depict some of the “old” ways of the people and, if you can tolerate the violence, can be pretty entertaining.

The site recommends it, particularly with regard to the very good acting. It is a sweeping drama with a huge cast of characters. Once you get to know them all, it is an interesting television show, particularly if you understand Appalachia and maybe even if you want to understand it.

Enjoy the trailer!



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