MYRTLE BEACH, SC — For nine episodes, an average of 1.1 million viewers have tuned in to “Welcome to Myrtle Manor.” Friday’s announcement of a second season means those 1.1 million fans will have at least 10 more episodes to enjoy.
“Myrtle Manor,” a “docu-drama” series filmed at Patrick’s Mobile Home Park on Highway 15 last year in Myrtle Beach, will air its season finale Sunday. It’s not yet clear when filming will start again or when the second season will hit the air.
But even before the show even premiered on March 3, it had been the talk of the town with many bracing themselves for what they thought would cast the city in a negative light.
“It ends on Sunday?” asked Myrtle Beach Mayor John Rhodes on Thursday. “That tells you how much I’ve been watching.”
Rhodes said he hasn’t heard much talk about the show from residents since the first few episodes aired. The show premiered to 1.3 million viewers, according to Nielsen, the company that measures the ratings of television shows. It’s averaged about 1.1 million viewers over nine episodes, pulling in that many viewers on the April 28 episode.
“I think [local] people watched it in the beginning, but I’m not sure how much they’re watching it now,” he said. “It had not been a topic of conversation until everything happened last weekend.”
Three “Myrtle Manor” cast members were arrested between April 26 and 28. Amanda Adams, 26, and Lindsay Colbert, 21, were arrested April 26 and 28, respectively, both on charges of driving under the influence of alcohol. On the show, Colbert was evicted from “Myrtle Manor” and has not appeared in an episode since March 24.
Adams was arrested early Friday morning after crashing her Jeep into a utility pole on U.S. 501 near Broadway Street and police said a Breathalyzer found she had a blood alcohol content of .20. Colbert was pulled over when police said she was speeding on U.S. 501 near Waccamaw Boulevard and reported finding an open bottle of rum in her car. A Breathalyzer administered at the jail showed Colbert had a blood alcohol content of 0.15, police said.
The legal limit is 0.08 in South Carolina.
Taylor J. Burt, 28, was charged April 27 with criminal sexual conduct with a minor under age 16. According to police, a 15-year-old girl and her mother told police April 26 that the girl had sexual relations with Burt.
“Some people watch it for entertainment,” Rhodes said. “As far as projecting what Myrtle Beach is like, it’s not a good image.”
The show follows members of the Patrick family, who have owned the trailer park for years, and a number of other cast members – totaling 17 – who’ve had story lines ranging from cast member Jared Stetson participating in an amateur male review at Masters Club and a “Miss Myrtle Manor” beauty pageant featuring many of the women on the show – and a guest appearance from Myrtle Beach Councilman Wayne Gray, who was one of the pageant’s judges.
Gray said he was disappointed he didn’t have more dialogue featured in the episode.
“I’ve probably only watched about 10 minutes of the show all season,” Gray said. “I can’t really say what I think of the show based on that.”
Before watching the show, Pawleys Island resident Jan Kaufman was afraid that “Myrtle Manor” would portray the Myrtle Beach area in a negative light. Now, she’s a fan of the show who stopped by Patrick’s Mobile Home Park April 28 to pick up a few things from the Myrtle Manor souvenir store, which the park opened last month.
“I think Myrtle Beach is such a well-known vacation destination,” she said. “It’s not going to make people think this is what Myrtle Beach is.”
Profiting from ‘Myrtle Manor’
In March, park owner Cecil Patrick asked Myrtle Beach City Council to grant the ability to sell “Myrtle Manor” merchandise at the trailer park.
Patrick told the council in March that hundreds of cars filter through the park daily with people hoping to get a glimpse of the “Myrtle Manor” sign or a cast member.
“Everyone who comes out here wants a T-shirt,” Patrick said.
City Council approved a “Myrtle Manor Film District” on March 26, allowing Patrick to open a NASCAR-like merchandise trailer that would sell show souvenirs that also are available for purchase online at www.myrtlemanor.com. Available items include T-shirts, hats, can coolers and “beer belts.”
Patrick said the park sees 300 to 400 people each day and the store has sold “well over $50,000” in merchandise.”
“We stay out of merchandise more than we have it,” he said Thursday, adding that more stock arrives routinely.
In addition to creating the Myrtle Manor Film District, the council approved a special event permit that allows the sale of show souvenirs and concessions, and the operation of a hair salon for 90 days, from April 1 to June 29.
Patrick could then re-apply for subsequent special event permits 90 days at a time that would allow the commercial activity to continue. The trailer arrived at the park from Texas on April 21, which the Patricks began using the next day. They sold merchandise from the park while waiting for the trailer to arrive.
“It’s just doing fantastic,” said Cecil Patrick’s wife, Barbara, adding that the majority of shoppers are from out of town, but they get a good number of people from Myrtle Beach and the surrounding areas. “People come out here and they’re laughing and having a good time.”
Dana Painter, Cecil and Barbara Patricks’ daughter, said they’ve had visitors from 44 states and seven countries as of April 28.
Trampus Pitts of Myrtle Beach picked up some postcards that he said he plans to send his mother who now lives in Texas and is suffering from dementia. His mother was raised in Myrtle Beach and he said they both are fans of the show.
“We started talking about it,” Pitts said. “I told her I’d been past the park and she always asks if I’m going to be on the show.”
Pitts said he plans to send his mother one “Myrtle Manor” postcard a week for the next five weeks.
“It will lift her spirits,” he said.
Since before the show aired, some Myrtle Beach residents have expressed concerns about the way Myrtle Beach would be portrayed.
Common complaints heard around town have been that “Myrtle Manor” is scripted, makes Myrtle Beach look bad or that the show is just boring.
“I could go out on [Ocean] Boulevard and make a video any night of the week that would bring more ratings than ‘Myrtle Manor,’ ” said Myrtle Beach resident Joe Jackson. “I’m not a hater, I just think that show isn’t good.”
Sam Detamore had a slightly different opinion of the show.
“I’m for anything that’s going to bring people to Myrtle Beach,” he said. “I just don’t like that it’s put Myrtle Beach in such a negative light.”
Detamore, a seven-year resident, said he didn’t think the show itself was hurting Myrtle Beach, but the trouble the cast members have gotten into with the law makes the area look bad. Still, he said he thought the show deserved a second season.
“Only because it’s bringing people to Myrtle Beach,” he said.
New York-based media researcher Shari Anne Brill said the notion that people who’ve never been to Myrtle Beach will base their opinions solely on what they see on “Myrtle Manor” is unlikely.
“People know that reality shows don’t depict reality in any sense of the word,” she said. “I don’t think people think it’s an accurate depiction of what people in Myrtle Beach are like any more than people thought that housewives in Atlanta behave the way people do on the Bravo show. The vast majority of people know better.”
Leaving with a smile
Cast members had been holding out hope for a second season, a wish that TLC granted with its renewal announcement Friday.
But Cecil Patrick was happy about the journey he’s been on even before finding out it’s not over yet.
Patrick said he’s enjoying all of the people he’s met who are fans of the show.
“Everyone who comes here is smiling,” he said. “That’s what it’s all about.”
Contact MAYA T. PRABHU at (843) 444-1722 or follow her on Twitter.