The Wahlbergs Aren’t Always a Reality TV Success Story

Mark Wahlberg’s ‘Breaking Boston’ was pulled after just one episode.

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Screenshot via hitflix.com

A Mark Wahlberg-produced A&E reality show was pulled from the schedule this week, but probably not the one you’re thinking of. “Wahlburgers,” which features his brothers, Donnie and Paul, and focuses on the gang’s burger restaurant by the same name, is still going strong. But alas, A&E has removed “Breaking Boston” after just one episode on the air. If you’re thinking, “Which one was that?” well, you’re not alone, evidently. A&E cited “underperformance” as a reason for doing away with it. The premiere pulled in just 311,000 viewers, according to Deadline.

The show focused on four Boston area blue-collar women in their twenties who were trying to “break the cycle of their peers in a town where education, employment and opportunities are hard to come by,” as Variety wrote. It was based on, you guessed it, Mark Wahlberg’s youth. (It’s the “Before” to Entourage‘s “After.”)

If you’re shaking your head at the news that well-intentioned “docu-drama” can’t survive in a land that supports any iteration of “The Real Housewives” franchise, at least take heart that “Breaking Boston,” while well-intentioned, wasn’t very good. Among those few people who did watch the first episode were TV critics, who weren’t huge fans. The Globe‘s Matthew Gilbert faulted it for seeming contrived, canned, and staged, despite the earnest subject matter:

The artificiality of the mechanics of the show undermines its effectiveness. Every scene seems staged to the hilt, every comment — even those made to the “diary-cam,” which has replaced the “Real World” confessional in the reality genre — feels coaxed and coached.

Given the show focuses on women who are trying to climb out of their tough life situations, yet takes place on the television show in which they star, you can imagine that the artifice of reality TV felt especially thin this time around. This reality-ish fault seems to be a symptom for Boston-based (okay, really, any location-based) reality TV, as you might recall from “Southie Rules,” which despite a very obvious (and poor) script, actually managed to remain on the schedule for several episodes.

It seems that not all that Mark Wahlberg touches turns to gold. But then, what with his other successful reality show and, you know, career as a movie star, we’re sure he’ll recover.