Why Are So Many Reality Television Shows Based In St. Louis?
Resale Royalty. Welcome to Sweetie Pies. Funeral Boss. Salvage City. If you are a fan of reality-based TV, these shows may be familiar to you.
All of them take place in St. Louis. And all of them were produced by St. Louis-based television production companies Coolfire Originals and NoCoast Originals, who often work in partnership to create what they call "unscripted" shows.
"When we started our production company four years ago, a lot of people said 'Can you really do that in St. Louis? Don't you need to be in Los Angeles or New York City?' said Jeff Keane, founder, president and CEO of Coolfire Originals. "And we said no, we think we can do it right here. And we think we can use the fact that we're in the middle of the country and we're finding characters, we're finding businesses, we're finding ideas that are sort of centered here. And we think we can use that as an advantage. And sure enough, that's the way it's played out."
Unlike some reality TV shows, their shows never bring on writers to help make things interesting, said Brad Carsten, senior partner and co-founder of NoCoast Originals.
Carsten also wants the characters in his shows to be authentic, which is part of what drew him to the Midwest.
"There is a Midwestern ethos, ethic, caliber of work, understanding and aesthetic that is real and is apparent in the number of people living really interesting lives between the two coasts," said Carsten.
Sue McCarthy is one of Carsten's Midwest characters. She and her daughters own Women's Closet Exchange in South County and star in Resale Royalty.
"I said from the beginning all I really wanted was a show that a woman and her family and her twelve-year-old daughter could sit down and watch and be proud of, and that is what came to pass," said McCarthy.
Carsten's company, NoCoast Originals, focuses on finding characters to be featured in unscripted shows. Once the show is picked up by a network, his company also works to merchandise the show. In addition to thinking of show concepts, Keane's company, Coolfire Originals, does the work in the middle; shooting the video and creating the content that ends up on television.