With TV shows like "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo," "Duck Dynasty," "Bayou Billionaires" and others making their way into the hearts and homes of millions of Americans, it appears that the so-called Southern stereotype has found its place in the popular mainstream.
According to TMZ, America's "obsession" with backwoodsmen and women is so pervasive that it is no longer just limited to PG-rated shows.
The entertainment website reports that the new craze is now "spilling over into the adult industry in a big way" with sales of "hillbilly porn" nearly tripling in the last two years.
Before the reality show wave -- which has included TV hits like "Swamp People," "American Hoggers" and "Hillbilly Handfishing" -- "hillbilly porn" was reportedly one of the site's "worst sellers."
It is not clear why this X-rated genre has suddenly become so popular, but perhaps -- if the reaction to the TV shows is anything to go by -- it is the attraction to the "real deal" that has people coming for more.
Marjorie Kaplan, president and general manager of Animal Planet, home of “Hillbilly Handfishing,” told the Washington Post earlier this year that viewers watch "hillbilly" TV shows out of a “desire to connect back to something that’s a little more raw and a little bit more real.”
"Hillbillies are the epitome of that -- no artifice, living in the moment, the real deal," Kaplan said, adding that Animal Planet had not "received any negative response at all" to its rural-themed show.
In August, Slate's Michelle Dean, puzzling over 'Honey Boo Boo's' runaway success, speculated that the sudden popularity of "hillbilly" TV shows may be linked to the country's faltering economy.
"These shows reassure us that our struggle is worth it," Dean writes, "all economic evidence to the contrary -- if only because we would never belly-flop into the mud on cable television. "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" casts this socio-economic divide in especially sharp relief, since the show is rooted partly in beauty pageant culture, which, in its own idiosyncratic way, indulges the American belief that you can work and spend your way to greatness."