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Jay Busbee

`NASCAR Wives' no more: The reality show that wasn't

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Seems a shame to bring you this news now that NASCAR wives are all over the news, but it looks like "NASCAR Wives," the TLC reality show that never reached air, is now dead, dead, dead, never to be seen at all.

The backstory: NASCAR Media Group had created at least eight half-hour episodes of "NASCAR Wives" in 2009, but TLC rejected them because the shows lacked sufficient controversy. In other words, the ladies didn't bring the drama, and NASCAR wasn't willing to amp up said drama for the sake of good ratings. (You are welcome to utter the phrase "late-race debris caution" and giggle uncontrollably at the irony.)

Anyway, I'm not quite sure how there wasn't any drama, considering the talent involved in this project: DeLana Harvick (right), she of the firesuit; Kelley Earnhardt, sister of Dale Earnhardt Jr. and star of those creepy Nationwide commercials; Angie Skinner, wife of Mike Skinner and no doubt a very nice person though I know nothing else about her; and Shana Mayfield, wife of Jeremy Mayfield, who deserves an entire reality show of his own.

NASCAR Media Group spent an estimated $200,000 in production costs on the show, and also missed out on potential revenue from TLC. That's a shame, but you also have to wonder what NASCAR Media Group was thinking when it made this deal. It's not like there was any secret formula to the success of the "Real Housewives"-type shows — loathsome women spraying drama in every direction in exotic/upscale locales. Seeing a woman faithfully standing by her man — or her brother — may be NASCAR's ethos, but it just doesn't make for particularly compelling television.

So NASCAR Media Group is thus at a crossroads. If it's going to continue in this vein — and apparently it is, considering it's got the reality series "Changing Lanes," about the Drive for Diversity program, on BET's docket — it's going to have to make a hard choice. Either NASCAR has to let its reality subjects off the leash, or it has to accept that it will end up with reality shows that are closer to infomercials than dramatic works. (Note that neither of these bear any resemblance to true reality.)

My take? NASCAR made the right call here. There's not one reality-show star — not a single one — who came out of their series holding onto anything approaching dignity. Best-case scenario, "NASCAR Wives" would have given viewers a brief, disposable look behind the scenes of NASCAR marriages. Worst — and far more likely — case, a manufactured on-camera freakout would hang an ugly punchline on the entire sport that could take months to shake off.

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