Discovery's Moonshiners is a huge hit for the network, and I don't think it just has to do with the fact that people love themselves a good old fashioned backyard boozy brew. The producers of the show managed to get themselves a bunch of folks who are genuinely in love with creating their own moonshine. That enthusiasm is pretty infectious and one of the best examples of that is Donnie and Teresa.
Donnie and Teresa are Moonshiners' power couple.
The boyfriend-girlfriend couple, also known as the "Beattyville Hillbillies" are a hit with fans, not just because they're good at making moonshine (they are) but because they have such a great time doing it.
While moonshinin' wasn't always Teresa's passion, it's been a practice in Donnie's family that's been passed down for generations, and he's more than happy to share and refine the secret of his family's moonshine success with his better half.
Donnie Benton came up in Old Landing Kentucky and it didn't take him long to learn the ways of crafting homestyle booze from his Grandfather. But that didn't mean he wanted his kids to follow in his footsteps, however, and Donnie recalled his grandpops always saying that "there was no good in making moonshine." Instead of taking this as a sign that he should avoid making moonshine altogether, Donnie saw it as a way of his elder spurring him on in a roundabout way.
WBONTV reports Donnie as saying, "what better way to get someone to do something, than to tell them they can’t, and I think my grandpa knew that…." While Teresa is honing her moonshine-making skills with Donnie, it turns out that she's got some bootlegging blood in her family as well. She recalls that her grandpa and grand-uncle also made moonshine as well.
Is Moonshiners staged?
Like many reality TV programs, it's not outside the realm of possibility for certain situations to be "played up" or "revisited" on camera for better audience clarity. In the case of the Discovery Channel show about home-making booze, however, some fans and moonshine dilettantes and dabblers themselves were a bit gobsmacked about the intricacies of the rigs featured on the show.
In a Reddit post regarding the show and the use of troughs, some couldn't get around the fact that a lot of the set ups seem to be overly complex for no reason: "Don't get me wrong, I understand and possess a fair whack of the redneck engineering mentality. However, it seems like a lot of unnecessary work to build troughs of wood (or carving out a tree like Mark did) and setting up the sections so that they flow one into another instead of purchasing and using readily-available pipe or hose."
Reddit user Ricky LaFleur continued: "A trough has the advantage of being able to quickly find and remedy any blockages, but that wouldn't be an issue with a pipe or hose that has a good filter on the inlet. If you need to camouflage your water conduit like Mark did then a hose is much easier to hide than any trough. I do like Donnie and Teresa's setup with free and plentiful bamboo."
Some commenters gave love to Donnie and Teresa's "realer" moonshine set up, too.
Others think the wackiness of some systems have more to do with the show's producers trying to drive home the "backwoods" nature of the cast's operations: "I was complaining about the trough system the whole show. First off, if you're really trying to be inconspicuous, why would you rig up a huge pulley system in the middle of the woods. (That was a dumb idea as well, that sticks out like a sore thumb)."
So it could be that the "Beattyville Hillbillies" appeal to a wider demographic of viewers: they've got a great natural charm and chemistry, and have some really efficient means of moonshining that are more true-to-life, something serious moonshine fans can appreciate.
You can catch new episodes of Moonshiners on Discovery Channel, Tuesdays at 9 p.m. EST.