Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

'Outsiders' Is Far Away and Close to Home

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

'Outsiders' Is Far Away and Close to Home

Article excerpt

This week, WGN America launched one of the strangest shows on television.

Adding to the current cable landscape of cops, robbers, vampires and zombies, comes "Outsiders, a show that's been described as "Mad Max' meets Little House on the Prairie.' The show is built around the Farrell family, a sprawling Appalachian family who lives in seclusion around and on top of a mountain.

Living wild, if not completely feral, the tattered, tattooed and stringy-haired clan has only limited contact with the surrounding world - just enough to keep their 4-wheelers fueled and their cigarette habits satisfied.

They make their own whiskey.

"Outsiders is set in mythical Crockett County, Kentucky, but with references to coal mining, mountaintop removal, prescription drug abuse and ramps, it could be Raleigh, Wyoming or Boone County - in fact, it kind of is.

Peter Mattei, creator and executive producer for "Outsiders, said he didn't really do much research on Kentucky when he began developing the show, but he did come to Charleston.

"I knew an activist named Reverend Billy," he said. "Reverend Billy had been down to Charleston, to Boone and Raleigh County."

Among other things, Reverend Billy and the Stop Shopping Choir have protested mountaintop removal sites in West Virginia.

Billy told Mattei about the protests and the people and Mattei came to Charleston in December of 2013 to see for himself.

The producer visited several communities, talked to people with Radical Action for Mountains' and Peoples' Survival and Coal River Mountain Watch, learned more about the mountaintop removal protesters in the state, and got to know the area a little.

"I thought setting the show in Appalachia would just be incredibly dramatic," he said.

However, the roots of the show come from somewhere else - New Jersey.

The actual roots of "Outsiders" were a little of this and a little of that.

Mattei said, "I read an article about a kind of weird family living apart from others on a mountain in New Jersey, since before the Civil War and then I saw a play about the idea of eviction."

He envisioned a rough-looking group that was part-gypsy clan, part-hippie commune, part-biker gang. …

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