Forget the "Real Housewives" series. "Bulloch Family Ranch" is a different kind of reality show, one that offers a positive view of family.
The seven-episode series focuses on a Lakeland family: parents Julie and Rusty Bulloch and their children, Brodie and Amanda. Over 16 years, the Bullochs have taken in up to 30 teens and helped the youngsters through rough times.
The series airs at 10 p.m. Wednesdays on UP (formerly GMC) through Aug. 28. The July 17 opener scored the highest ratings for a series premiere in the network's nine-year history. I talked to Rusty and Julie this week. You can follow them on Facebook.
Have you been satisfied with the show so far?
Rusty: Absolutely. They make us look pretty good.
Do you have any say in what's shown?
Rusty: They gave us a base outline of what they're looking for. They bring something up, and if we don't like it, we say that's not how we do it.
Julie: They asked for our schedule for six months. We had to tell them we never know what will happen, it's spur of the moment. They went with it.
You're both so natural. Have you done TV before?
Rusty: Never. We're not sure we did it real well. All we get is a time schedule of shooting. You go with it. It's pretty easy.
Julie: It's kind of funny. We're not actors, we don't have to remember what we portrayed. It's just us. I say, 'You can follow us if you want to.'
Did you have any concerns about putting your family life on TV?
Rusty: We didn't know anything about TV. All we've ever known is what we watch on TV. We now know a little bit about editing. They can make you look good or look stupid.
Are you happy with the editing?
Rusty: One hundred percent happy. We wanted everything to be positive and uplifting, even though there's some drama. You're going to see stuff that's not good happen, but that was our life at the time.
Julie: Drama will happen in your life, but as Christians we have a strong faith. The way we react is the example we're setting for young people.
Rusty: We're not preaching. The first thing is you have to live that way. You can talk, 'I'm a Christian,' but if people can see that without you opening your mouth I think that's a lot bigger. It's important for young people to see you live it.
Did you have immediate trust with the producers?
Julie: That was a fear we had. These Hollywood people, do they have our best interests in mind? Up TV, we knew they were interested in portraying our kids. We're not their mom and dad. We offer a place and platform to get on the right track. Not all the kids are street kids. We've had kids in a financial bind.
Rusty: I was scared to death we'd get a jerk we couldn't get along with, but after the first day our crew became our family. They’d hang around and talk and tell stories. We're still in contact with every single member of the crew.
Do you watch much television?
Rusty: During football season. I try to watch "The Andy Griffith Show," "Bonanza," "M*A*S*H."What message do you hope comes across from the show?
Rusty: I still want people to see we're not the exception to the rule. There are families that are still families. You stick together. We actually sit down, eat supper, talk about what happened that day. There are still a lot of families out there. They're starting to see it with "Duck Dynasty" and our show.
Julie: I think everybody has a calling. It's finding out what you're good at. We found out 16 years ago it was working with this age group.
Rusty: We hope people take from this that if you have time in your life, donate to local youth group, be a positive role model for a young person.
Would you like to do a second season?
Rusty: Heck, yes. It was fun. For us it was such a great experience.
Julie: It was a very positive experience. I give kudos to the network. We didn't have to fight back.