March 22, 2021
The Kardashians spent 14 years transforming the genre—but as their swan-song season unfolds and they plan their next moves, viewers’ can easily shift their focus to a new class of possible reality-TV royalty. Specifically, Pig Royalty.
Fallon rhapsodizes about the new series: “Am I trolling by suggesting that the new Discovery+ series about competition pig showing in Texas might be the successor to one in which the only wrangling a family of millionaires in Calabasas has to do is of their glam squads?” he asks, then answers, “Of course. But that’s not to distract from the point that Pig Royalty—which premieres March 23 on both the streaming service and the Discovery Channel—is an addictive delight, and certainly a descendant of the kind of television that the Kardashians have wrought.”
According to a description of the new show by Discover, audiences will enter the extreme world of pig show competitions and follow the rivalry between two unforgettable families: the Baleros, who have reigned supreme for years; and the Rihns, who want to take them down and become the next great pig dynasty. The two families traverse Texas, competing for the ultimate prizes: money; scholarships; big, shiny belt buckles that “crown” you the winner—and all the bragging rights that go with them. Don’t let the southern smiles and hospitality fool you: The stakes are high and family legacies are on the line.
The Daily Beast’s Fallon says the real, home-grown pig handlers will pull you in and leave you asking for more, noting, “The rivalries between the show’s two main competing families, there’s something Shakespearean… and Mean Girls-esque… and, when it comes to three catty sisters with their hair teased up to be closer to Jesus, yes, some definite Kardashian vibes, too. ”
“The smell of pig shit is one of a kind,” Jody Rihn, matriarch of the Rihn family and owner of one of the show’s two main teams, narrates in the pilot. “It’s not like cow shit. It’s not like dog shit. It’s got it’s own distinct smell that is awful. I don’t care how many times you wash it, the smell doesn’t go away. But it smells like money to us.”
There are tens of thousands of dollars at stake in each competition. One of the Rihn girls made $30,000 her senior year of high school from showing pigs, which she put toward college. McKayla Balero, of the rival Balero family, earned $65,000. Suddenly, the high stakes make sense.
And, oh yes, there are whispers of “juicing” pig feed to gain advantage. One of the Balero sisters is accused of sleeping with a judge.
But what the show really owes the Kardashians is the strength of the family bond that pulses through the series, Fallon says. “These are people who have likely been schooled on decades of reality TV, and they know how to give a good sound bite and drum up drama and scandal. But they also form a heartwarming, uniting front against the pressures of a surprisingly high-octane world. Sooie, bring on the pig drama.”
Research contact: @thedailybeast