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From COPS to Pot Farmers: How Reality TV Has Done a 360

From <em>COPS</em> to <em>Pot Farmers</em>: How Reality TV Has Done a 360

Everyone who is a fan of reality television knows that COPS is credited with being the first reality-based show on television. A staple on Saturday nights, COPS ruled the roost in reality television for several decades on Fox before being pushed aside for more elaborate shows on other channels.

So it is more than ironic that the latest offering in reality TV shows would be about an activity that has law enforcement officials feeling helpless to stop—Pot Farming in Northern California.

It was announced in August 2012 that The Discovery Channel was working on a new reality television series based on the lives of several pot farmers in northern California. Since then, pot lovers all over America have been eagerly anticipating its debut.

Pot Farmers of Humboldt County chronicles the lives of three pot farming families who have struck gold overnight by turning their rural farmlands into pot fields. Pot farming has become a very lucrative, albeit very competitive, business in California, so it goes without saying that this show will provide all the drama that other Discovery Channel shows now airing such as Sons of Guns, Hillbilly Handfishin’, and Moonshiners presently dish out.

Pot farming in Northern California, particularly, has been getting a bum rap for what authorities trying to stop them say are serious environmental violations, from cutting down virgin forests to make room for their burgeoning businesses to poisoning the environment with chemicals pot farmers claim are necessary to grow a healthy crop of a much-desired medicine in California.

One of the stars of the show, Pot Farmers, is a 60-year old hippie named Willie McMillon, who owns nine square miles of farmland in rural Eureka. McMillon heads up his family of seven, including his wife, Sadie, three daughters and two sons, all of whom help out on the farm. McMillon claims that his farm is as organic as it gets and claims the government is just trying to pick bones because they want to see pot farming eradicated and go back to a time when pot was strictly forbidden.

As a side note, Willie is said to own upwards of 100 or more tie-dyed t-shirts, some of which he has owned for as many years as he’s been a hippie. Throughout the show, Willie will be seen wearing his signature bib overalls and a different tie-dyed t-shirt every week, some so old, you can almost see the last threads disintegrate before your very eyes.

“I’m glad to have this opportunity to show the world that pot farmers in California, well most of us anyways, are doing the best we can to make sure that pot farming doesn’t harm anything Mother Nature has given us,” says Willie on the 2-hour pilot program of Pot Farmers set to air sometime in March 2013.

Willie is most likely referring to two other families featured on the show who grow pot for a living. One in particular is a heated rival and who Willie doesn’t hold back on when describing his dislike for the way they do business. The family, the Hartfields, headed up by Robert “Rick” Hartfield, owner of eleven acres of pot land, live just ‘down the road’ from the McMillons, and this rivalry is as heated as any we’ve seen in recent reality show history. Not even the feud between Nene Leakes and Kim Zolciak of The Real Housewives of Atlanta will be able to outshine this modern-day war between pot farmers.

Hartfield has been cited for a few environmental infractions but in the show, he claims the chemicals he uses on his plants are the same ones that tomato and melon farmers in the area use and claims he is being singled out because of the nature of his crop.

In one particularly hard scene to watch, Hartfield has to take one of his dogs that got into the pot shed and ate halfway through a bag of buds to the vet for pot poisoning, but the dog ends up fully recovering with a new nickname “Bud.”

The Hartfields and McMillons, along with another family by the name of Miller, a transplanted Amish family originally from LaGrange, Indiana–another well-known, but as of yet, illegal place that is famous for its home-grown marijuana—make Pot Farmers one of the most anticipated new reality shows to hit the Discovery Channel since Moonshiners.

A producer of the show claims that the economy is partially responsible for these rogue families across the country doing whatever is necessary to keep their families fed and a roof over their heads.

“While families like those featured in another reality show, Duck Dynasty, which airs on rival channel A&E, get their money from the legal business of making hand-crafted duck calls, it is only a matter of time before other families will come forward, regardless of the threat of jail time, to get their families’ names in lights on the various channels that showcase what real America is all about,” she said.


This post was written by

- who has written 457 posts on

P. Beckert's is one voice vying for frequency room at the top of the opinion dial. Angered and bewildered by many of today’s events, P. Beckert uses humor as a tool to fight against an onslaught of stupidity and ignorance that seems to permeate the airwaves and pollute the sensitivities of a once brilliant nation. You can find more at


6 Responses to “From COPS to Pot Farmers: How Reality TV Has Done a 360”

  1. Williard says:

    I expected an Anderson Cooper joke. I am leaving happy anough (good article) but sad my A Dawg wasn’t in there.

  2. Brian White says:

    Wow Patti, you really nailed it. Reality TV used to be about a handful of people living in a house together. Now it's something else. Something perverse. It bears little or no connection to reality, and the producers don't care what is true, honest, right or wrong, they just want ratings, and that's what they go after.

  3. Melissa Derr says:

    Being a native of Eureka, Humboldt, California and spending my summers between the ages of 9-14 being raised on a pot farm, I am excited to hear about this new show. It may not be true reality, but it'll be close enough to ignite memories just as was the movie Humboldt County which I thoroughly enjoyed and recommend to the curious.

  4. P. Beckert says:

    Sorry to say Melissa, this one was wishful thinking on my part. The story is fake as is the show.

  5. Barb Weir says:

    Pot farmers have been brilliant at hybridizing the stuff, but with all that genetic manipulation (natural, not GM) couldn’t they do something about the smell? I mean the stuff still smells like skunk. Worse than tobacco.

  6. P. Beckert says:

    Well, seems it is a popular subject, farming, because right under the story is a google ad for an online reality series called “The Edge of Farming.” Why do I have the sneaking suspicion that pot farmers are somewhere in that mix?


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