‘East Bound & Down’ puts Myrtle Beach on map, hot seat

Whoever said there’s no such thing as bad publicity probably didn’t see the HBO series “East Bound & Down.”

The hit show about a foul-mouthed minor league pitcher’s quest to make it back to the majors wrapped up shooting Season 3 in Myrtle Beach this week, and the premiere aired Sunday night.

While the city’s tourism leaders probably love the idea of having Myrtle Beach’s name splashed all over HBO, they might not be so thrilled after watching the promotions and the premiere.

Promos for the show call Myrtle Beach the “Redneck Riviera,” a nickname it has been trying to shake for decades, and a new one even I had never heard of – the “Dirty Myrtie.”

But that’s kid stuff compared to the season debut, that dropped more F-bombs than an F-16 and flashed more flesh than a Foam Party at The Afterdeck.

The opening scene features star Kenny Powers (whose middle name is an F-bomb itself) walking onto the beach with a beer in one hand, the other with a boogie board that sports a Confederate flag and a marijuana leaf.

He plants it in the sand next to a black couple, who are obviously offended by one or both of the two images. Powers makes a comment about their “base tans,” then hits the waves and launches a tirade on teen surfers.

Cut to Powers making some locker room talk with teammates of the Myrtle Beach Mermen (that nickname might be the most offensive of all) and cruising down Ocean Boulevard on a Vespa while girls show their, uh, bathing suits.

On and on it goes, to Powers and his drunk girlfriend beating up a tourist couple at a putt-putt course, sharing drinks and a joint on the SkyWheel and making waves on his jet ski, and that’s just Episode 1.

We’ve got a whole season to see this hilarious storyline play out, but I can almost hear the cringing coming from City Hall and the Chamber of Commerce. What have we gotten ourselves into?

My advice: Get over it. Despite our best P.R. efforts, Myrtle Beach still has the reputation as the Redneck Riviera and there’s nothing wrong with that. Rednecks have to vacation too.

Jokes are funny until they are on you. Then you can either get mad, which makes you look stupid, or roll with it. Smart people know the show is meant to be an overexaggeraton of reality, so there’s no reason to take it personally.

My advice: Kick back with a cold beer on Sunday night and enjoy a good laugh at our own expense. That’s how we really roll in the Dirty Myrtie.

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