Updated Sep. 5, 2015
Originally, this post was about a single 13-episode season of my reality documentary TV series Gone Barefoot, about the lives of the residents of the Barefoot Family Farm in North Carolina. However, a few months ago, I thought such a season was unrealistic, certainly by the standards of the industry. So I expanded the production schedule and reorganized everything into two "seasons" of eight episodes each, but all of them airing in 2012.
So now here's the complete first season - and second.
Gone Barefoot is the historical re-enactment and documentary TV series chronicling the adventures of Buddy Wayne Barefoot and 12 of his distant and immediate relatives: brothers Bobby Ray and Bryson, mother Brenda, great-uncle Alonzo "Popeye," uncles Ralph and Harvey, aunt Reba Pearl "Hambone," first cousins Brandy and Britton "Bunky," sister-in-law Jennifer, and niece Belinda. The show takes place on the family's 35-acre property in Johnston County, NC, just south of the state capital of Raleigh.
The program airs Sunday nights on the family-owned cable and satellite television network BMN and on the bmntv.com website.
Jan. 1, 2012: "Meet the Family" (2-hour premiere)
Buddy Wayne Barefoot is raptured into Heaven and goes through the Great Tribulation and Millennium periods. Once that occurs, he is welcomed to his new home in rural North Carolina by guardian angel Mary Elizabeth "Biddy" McBiddlewhiskers. B.W. is then introduced to his new eternal family. In all, 11 people are introduced, but Biddy teases that there's someone else he wants B.W. to meet. After the usual televised tension, the 13th family member is revealed to be Bryson, B.W.'s stillborn brother, prompting one of the most famous lines in reality TV history: "My Bryson is back!" A welcome feast and prayer session ends the episode.
Jan. 8, 2012: "It's Our House"
A tour of the new house is shown, emphasizing the features that make it a traditional rural American house. Among other things, there is no electricity, running water, or indoor plumbing. However, a home irrigation system is installed. We also find that sleep can be uncomfortable in the Barefoot household, as six bedrooms are somehow crammed into a small space and Hambone has to sleep in the barn due to being the odd person out.
Jan. 15, 2012: "It's Planting Time"
B.W. hand-sows the ceremonial first seeds of the season. Later, he shows us the barn where there are not only animals, but also primitive farm equipment pulled by mules and other animals. Belinda and Bryson pluck fruit from the orchards, while Harvey establishes the workshop on the second floor of the dwelling.
Jan. 22, 2012: "Outside and In" (renamed from "Something Old, Something New")
Brenda, Jennifer, Annie, and Brandy establish the Barefoot Moms' Club for social interaction; they immediately start a quilting club. Annie also establishes an in-house beauty parlor in which all the makeups, hair treatments, and shampoos are made from natural ingredients. Also, Bryson and Belinda start school at the Meadow School facility; it's a temporary location while a one-room schoolhouse is planned for them and their relatives.
Jan. 29, 2012: "Shootin' the Breeze"
When the days' work is done, the dining room turns into a social room to discuss Barefoot family life from all angles and to confess items never before revealed. At the end, B.W. sings "Poor Ol' Mule" on her guitar and Hambone performs the body percussion that led to her nickname. Also on the show: Popeye, the family historian, seeks public records from Johnston County to answer questions about the past, and Jennifer shows the skills she learned as a podiatrist.
Feb. 12, 2012: "Smellie and Booger" (renamed from "I'm Your Puppet")
(There was no episode the previous week due to Super Bowl XLVI.)
Belinda has a dollhouse, which we take a look at for the first time. And what a time for it: the nine-year-old prodigy is organizing a "marriage" of two of her favorite dolls: Sarah Michelle MacSmelliefoote and Benjamin Jeremiah Boogerberger. It's filled with moments both hilarious and dramatic. Also, Brandy finishes her first homemade piece of clothing, and a hollering exhibition is followed by a ceremonial hog-killing.
Feb. 19, 2012: "Are We In or Are We Out" (renamed from "First Fruits")
The Barefoot Moms' Club runs its first-ever fashion show! They are joined by several guests to show off what they have designed. In the spirit of the close-knit traditional community, the designers model their own clothes as the common room is turned into a runway. In addition, Bobby Ray introduces us to some of the family's prized farm animals, and Popeye visits the former home of his great-great-grandfather, "Pink" Barefoot; the former cemetery is now his immediate family's home and is used for extended clan and community events.
Feb. 26, 2012: "Just One of the Boys"
Ralph, who is skeptical of Hambone's redneck ways, challenges his sister to a contest of shooting a .45-caliber rifle at clay pigeon targets. The contest has some simple stakes: whoever loses has to wash all the clothes on a pre-arranged day that Brenda has off. It all comes down to the final shot! Meanwhile, Brenda finds a battery-powered radio and cassette player to listen to her favorite songs, and B.W. visits Brandon McLamb, his publicist, who lives on a nearby property.
Mar. 4, 2012: "Worth a Hill of Beans" (renamed from "Secrets in Heaven")
At the end of the fall, B.W. grows his first crop of bean blossoms, which aren't really blossoms at all but more closely resembles broccoli. Flush with that success, he finds wild versions of wheat and corn at a nearby briar patch, which surprises him because he had been told such crops were extinct. Ralph washes the dishes after his loss the previous week and wears a woman's apron while doing it, and Brandy and Hambone begin to do battle while milking their cows.
Mar. 11, 2012: "It Only Looks Scary"
The Barefoot family celebrates October Harvest and Heritage Day. It's like Halloween, without the scary parts or Satanic references. They do dress in costumes and tell stories of how they either died or nearly died during their original time on Earth. As part of the festivities, B.W., Brenda, Bobby Ray, and Jennifer take a hayride; meanwhile, Bryson marks the day by joining some male classmates in tying up teacher Shirley Mae Crabtree as a prank.
Mar. 18, 2012: "Giving Thanks"
For the first time, "the 13" celebrate Thanksgiving. In the largest gathering to date, all of the rest of the immediate families are there, with the glaring exception of Alfred, Buddy and Bobby's father, who unfortunately went to Hell. The usual elements are there: large amounts of food, storytelling, and entertainment. We also see Brenda's insider tips on preparing the perfect holiday meal, and Ralph tours a nearby church he wants to take over.
Mar. 25, 2012: "Our First Christmas"
This time, "the 13" are joined by only a few distant relatives and family friends. All the traditions are observed: special message about the birth of Jesus Christ, a formal dinner, a performance of carols from the Barefoot Boys, and gifts. B.W., for example, gets a replica NASCAR race car resembling that which will debut in the 2013 Sprint Cup Series season. To top it all off, Biddy arranges for them to speak to Jesus Himself!
Apr. 1, 2012: "Perfect Harmony"
Three of the boys launch a new Southern gospel music singing group, as Popeye, Ralph, and Harvey start the Barefoot Boys. When Bobby Ray declines to join them, Popeye walks all over the neighborhood to try to find the fourth singer, until Landon Jr. (Alonzo's nephew) says yes, and the group starts rehearsals. Also, Harvey also shows off his wrestling skills, which were good enough to make the state tournament, and Ralph updates work on renovating the church.
Apr. 15, 2012: "I'm Your Bashful Barefoot Beau" (renamed from "Life on the Beulah Mae")
(There was no episode the previous week due to Easter.)
A talent show and mass "date" ends the young ones' time at the Meadow School site. A group of about six boys - who have called themselves the Rotten Rascals and who include Bryson - say sweet nothings to the girls, and the girls come back to give letter jackets to the Rascals. Noah - Popeye's nephew - comes by to announce that the one-room schoolhouse is ready for occupancy next fall! In addition, Harvey picks up another sport by joining a family-based softball team.
Apr. 22, 2012: "Branchin' Out"
Ralph purchases the Long Branch church two blocks from the family property, and moves services there. The opening is attended by all 13 residents as well as dozens of their distant kin and their friends. The Barefoot Boys perform vintage hymns, and everyone dresses in American colonial-to-Civil-War era costumes. Also on the show, Hambone and Bunky begin spending free time at Camp Paradise, a 150-acre site in nearby Ingrams; Bunky participates in a survival-skills program, while Hambone is a greeter and office assistant.
Apr. 29, 2012: "Checkers or Wreckers"
The finale of season 2 takes place at the new short-track made of red clay dirt in Bentonville, the town in Johnston County which had been known as site of one of the last major battles of the Civil War. B.W. climbs into a 1930s-vintage race car and competes against other local drivers in a 150-lap main event. After a night of beating, banging, and bad tempers, the race ends unlike any other in motorsports history! We also see flashbacks from a pre-race visit B.W. makes to the Singing Grove in Benson, where his fans celebrated his NASCAR championships and reality-show music competition success.