Posted by

Mike Dow Mike Dow
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

edge staff writer


A tale of two (very different) reality shows

Rate this item
(0 votes)

Reality TV fans have no shortage of options at the present and when it comes to first run drama, laughs, tears, food, true crime, animals, history, sci-fi or travel, the team at Discovery+ has some particularly entertaining unscripted viewing vying for your attention.

The Discovery+ streaming service is a one-stop viewing behemoth containing first run programs and entire multi-season libraries for shows appearing on Discovery, Animal Planet, Food Network, History, TLC, Travel Channel, HGTV, ID, OWN, Magnolia Network, A&E, Lifetime, The Dodo, and more.

This story focuses on two very different reality series currently underway with new seasons on Discovery+. What do they have in common? Juicy drama, mud-flinging, and lots of laughter and tears.

Serving the Hamptons

“Serving the Hamptons” debuted last week on Discovery+ with five hour-long episodes focused on the people behind the “it” eatery in the Hamptons, 75 Main, operated by restaurateur Zach Erdem.

Zach is a driven leader but he trusts his employees to always do the right thing, until they don’t. When that trust is broken - and it’s given a run for its money in the debut episode of “Serving the Hamptons” - Erdem will bring the hammer down.

Zach’s employees each possess a great respect and admiration for their leader, but it’s tempered with the knowledge that their world could come crashing down should they step out of bounds.

Summertime on the east end of Long Island means playtime for the elite clientele that dine at 75 Main. To draw the most reliable, hardworking employees to serve them, Erdem provides them with a stunning beach house to live in rent-free for the summer provided they follow his rules and take great care of his customers.

75 Main is open to all but it’s developed a reputation as a restaurant that attracts big-time celebrities, including the Kardashians, Jon Bon Jovi, President Joe Biden and First Lady, Jill, Howard Stern, Paris Hilton, Leonardo Dicaprio, and many more.

Some wealthy patrons are such big fans of 75 Main, they pay a premium to reserve a table permanently so they can drop in on a whim and know they’ll never have to wait.

The cast of “Serving the Hamptons” live together and work together. The first in a list of Erdem’s house rules is “no hooking up.”

As Erdem put it during my interview with him, “I put a bunch of young, attractive restaurant workers in the same house together for the summer, what did I expect was going to happen?”

Erdem’s life today as owner and operator of 75 Main is another world from where he stood on a wind-swept mountainside in Turkey just over 20 years ago.

“You need to be smart to catch your dream”

Erdem grew up as a shepherd in charge of 300 lambs and sheep. He says his mother assigned a different job to each of her seven boys.

“She chose me as the shepherd, saying ‘You are the good one and you are the only one that can deal with these old animals.’ My life every day from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. was focused on caring for these animals and I was pretty good at it.”

One day, Zach was walking by a set of railroad tracks when he noticed a piece of paper on the ground that had likely blown out of someone’s hand from a passing train.

“On that paper was a beautiful photograph of New York City with the buildings lit up at night,” Erdem said. “As a kid, I had never seen anything like this.”

Erdem says his family was very poor without access to things most of us take for granted such as electricity or plumbing.

When he was 17, Erdem left his village in Turkey, telling his parents he did not want to die a shepherd.

“I wanted a bigger, better lifestyle and that picture of New York City became my first step toward my dream.”

Erdem somehow saved just enough money for a one-way plane ticket to New York.

“I ended up at JFK airport where I stayed for the first two days because I didn’t know anybody, I had no money, no friends and of course, I couldn’t speak English. It was a huge culture shock for me.”

For the first time, Erdem says he saw people of all colors from other countries.

“Suddenly there were Chinese people, people with dark skin, people with light skin, people from everywhere,” he said.

Erdem says he spent a harrowing two months living on the streets of New York City, finding sleep wherever he could, such as a bench in Central Park.

“I was very scared, but I kept telling myself ‘You have been dreaming about this. Here you are in New York. Now you have to make it. I tried to give myself positive energy to stay on the street. If you know New York, that is not easy to do.”

He says he applied for jobs every day but found no takers for a former shepherd unable to speak English.

“Nobody wanted to hire me, not even as a dishwasher or someone to pump your gas. But I never gave up although I came very, very close.”

On one particularly frustrating day, Erdem says he was ready to pack it in and try to find his way back to Turkey.

“I said ‘I can’t do this anymore, I need to go back to my mother’s house.’ At the last minute, I met someone who told me that if I wanted to be successful, I needed to go to the Hamptons.”

Erdem says his message for people with a dream is not to give up.

“You need to be smart to catch your dream. You can’t sit down and wait for your dream to come to you. You need to get up and pursue your dream.”

There is much more to the story of Erdem’s arrival in the seaside town of Southampton, New York and his transformation into one of the area’s most prestigious and respected restaurateurs.

I asked Erdem if he felt his dream could have been realized in any other country.

“America is the only country in the world where a shepherd that was unable to speak English could have my life now,” he said. “I always say God bless the American people and God bless America. This is the place where you want to live and make it happen.”

The first episode of “Serving the Hamptons” offers a few references to Erdem’s former life and the challenges he overcame.

Zach says the drama we see on “Serving the Hamptons” will be familiar to anyone that has worked in the food service industry.

“The rules are always broken,” he said. “Every day I come into work, someone isn’t showing up. There’s always drama behind the scenes at a restaurant. The trick is to never let your customers see it. Even though 75 Main is the go-to restaurant in the Hamptons, we are not without our share of drama.”

Erdem says life at 75 Main has always been like a movie without cameras, until now.

“I am so thankful to Discovery+ that they decided to do this series. It has been fantastic.”

The five-episode first season of “Serving the Hamptons” is available now on Discovery+.

“Pig Royalty” – Season Two

The cutthroat world of pig show competitions is at the heart of “Pig Royalty,” the show that follows the adventures of competing teams and families who canvas Texas to show their prize pigs in a high stakes battle for big bucks, big scholarships, big shiny buckles and bragging rights.

Imagine a real-life version of the movie “Best in Show,” with pigs replacing dogs and you have an idea of the sort of unscripted drama and squeals that unfold in each episode of “Pig Royalty.”

When the first season of “Pig Royalty” aired last year, we were introduced to Team Balero, headed by family matriarch Michelle Balero and her daughters, McKayla, McKenzie and McCall.

The Balero girls have been fabulously successful at bringing home the bacon with their prize-winning pigs. Former cheerleader McKayla has won $65,000 in a single season of attending stock shows.

Joining the Baleros last season was 11-year-old Taytain “Nugget” Diaz. The youngster’s enthusiasm for the world of show pigs led to the Balero family taking him under their wing but an unexpected turn of events leads to Nugget breaking from the Baleros to join a different team in the show’s second season.

The Baleros’ primary competition on “Pig Royalty” is Team Rihn, led by Jody Rihn, with husband Josh, and daughters Kammi, Keylie and Kannen.

As season two begins, a tornado twists its way through the Rihn property, destroying their home in the process, but they are determined to rebuild their lives and carry on.

Both the Balero and Rihn teams have years of pig competition success behind them but the first season of “Pig Royalty” nearly became the Baleros’ final year of being involved in pig shows.

During an interview with Michele Balero for season 2 of “Pig Royalty,” she wasted no time addressing some of the accusations her family faced during the first season of the program when her daughters were accused on camera of bribing the show judges with sexual favors.

The Balero family has been raising pigs for 16 years. She says her biggest eye-opener regarding her family’s involvement with “Pig Royalty” isn’t so much the mudslinging that occurs behind the scenes at pig shows, but the dirt lobbed at her family online.

A conversation with Michelle Balero of “Pig Royalty”

The Maine Edge: You don’t get to see each episode of “Pig Royalty” until it airs so some of the things said or done by your competitors on the show is new to you when you’re watching. What is the craziest accusation someone has made about Team Balero?

Michelle Balero: My daughters have been accused of sleeping with the judges. First of all, that is the craziest accusation. They felt that because we knew the judge, that meant it had to be rigged but nobody on our show team actually did well other than in the showmanship category. It was not rigged. I’m all about playing fair and playing by the rules. All of those accusations are hogwash. You have to remember this is reality TV, where you always have a villain and you always have a hero. I’m being made out to be the villain here but I’m not.

TME: How has your life changed since “Pig Royalty” started airing last year?

MB: I sometimes forget how negative some people can be in this world. You have trolls that hide behind keyboards and say some very ugly things. This show has taught me who not to be. I’ve just got to keep my head up and remind myself that what we do is for the kids. There’s only person we answer to and that is God.

TME: Have you always had to deal with this sort of thing? Or did it start with the show?

MB: We’ve been dealing with negative people for years, long before “Pig Royalty” started. I’m going to toot my own horn. My girls are very attractive and very successful. Everything they do, they do well but they put in the hard work to make it happen. When you’re front and center and you’re successful at what you do, you have a target on your back.

TME: It looks like a very involved job to raise pigs, not to mention a dirty job. What are some of the challenges involved with raising pigs, especially pigs that are raised for show?

MB: Stubborn pigs can be a challenge. The number one rule in our barn – and these were rules Nugget had to follow as well – was to keep the pigpens clean every day. The pigs have to be walked every day, it’s like an Appaloosa you have to train. I don’t want to show up at a show with a pig that’s going crazy because you haven’t done the work with it. The pigs need to be bathed every other day, their skin needs to be conditioned and their hair needs to be brushed. It’s like a little kid, you have to take care of it. It’s an expensive project to raise pigs so you have to be prepared to give 110% if you decide to do this.

TME: If it was my job to bathe the pigs and brush their hair, I would become so attached to them. Has that ever been a problem for you or your daughters?

MB: Absolutely, you do get attached but you have to remember why you’re doing this. You’re doing it so people can eat, correct? You have to separate the two. The first two years were very difficult for us. My daughter McCall didn’t eat any meat for six months. After the pigs were gone, she would sit in the barn and cry. It can be especially hard after a terminal show (a show pig’s final performance before it is taken away to be slaughtered). Where they go from there is the “happy farm” then they end up on your local grocery store shelf. Those shows can be hard because the kids actually see that.

TME: Could you give us a preview of some of the action we’ll see on season two of “Pig Royalty”?

MB: We have some new members of Team Balero this season. You will see our cousins, the Vices, join us to go head-to-head against other teams. You’ll also see that Nugget has joined a new team this season. If you’ve already started watching season two, you’ve seen a lot of drama but there’s much more of that to come.

TME: Any misgivings about Nugget’s departure from Team Balero?

MB: We do miss him, but he really just lives down the road, so we see him outside playing and that kind of thing. His family are cousins to my husband’s family and we miss him, but sometimes kids need to spread their wings and you need to let them do it.

New episodes of “Pig Royalty” drop each Wednesday on Discovery+.

Last modified on Wednesday, 13 April 2022 10:26


The Maine Edge. All rights reserved. Privacy policy. Terms & Conditions.

Website CMS and Development by Links Online Marketing, LLC, Bangor Maine