truTV sent me the screener for a new show called “Branson Famous,” and my first thought was, “Hmmm… another reality show.” But after I watched the first episode, I realized this was a different kind of reality show — one I’m already hooked on after just one episode!
Partly because it’s based on a real family that’s not unlike the rest of us working stiffs out here, but also because it’s the first ever “reality musical.” And I love musicals. Especially where people break into song at a moment’s notice.
Premiering Dec. 29 at 10 pm ET/9 pm Central on truTV, “Branson Famous” centers on the Mabe family, stars and producers of the longest-running variety show in Branson, Missouri. Decades-old feuds, burning jealousies and sequined costume changes all play into this show, as the Mabe family takes their legendary 55-year-old variety show, The Baldknobbers Jamboree, very seriously.
But just like a lot of entrepreneurs, the Mabes are struggling to save their business as it slips into financial decline. In the first episode, the family auditions new, youthful singers to help modernize their act. The auditions end up in a drama-packed dispute as Brandon Mabe and his crafty girlfriend, Megan, attempt to take over the family business from his unrelenting father and tough-as-nails mother.
I can see where the youngsters are coming from. They want to make the show relevant again and bring it out of the 1980s and 90s. There’s nothing wrong with tradition, but you can still keep the legacy of a business while moving it into modern times.
Throw in a blonde bombshell with a gorgeous voice and a mystery investor, and “Branson Famous” is a larger-than-life drama that, as mentioned, I’m already hooked on. If, like me, you’re not one to sit down and watch a reality show, you should definitely check out “Branson Famous.”
I also love the comical characters and their little “confessional interludes” where the family breaks into song and basically “sings” their life, which is straight out of a country song about cheating spouses, emotional drama, and manipulative family members.
Check out a photo gallery and read about the real-life cast of characters below.
Tim Mabe: Tim is the patriarch of the Mabe family and the producer of the Baldknobbers show. On stage, he’s the comic relief, portraying the show’s signature character “Droopy Drawers.” His mother, Maw Maw, is the official owner of the theater. Tim has been married to Patty for 32 years and has been on the Baldknobber stage for more than 30 years. He takes his legacy of being “Droopy Drawers” very seriously, and considers himself the face of the show.
Patty Mabe: Patty is the fierce matriarch of the Mabe family, performing alongside them every night in the Baldknobbers show. Patty also selects all of the wardrobe for the show and runs the family’s motel and restaurant. Although her husband, Tim, is the producer of the show, Patty runs the family. While Patty and her son’s girlfriend Megan have an extremely complicated and tense relationship, they actually have a lot in common. Patty married into the Mabe family and knows all too well how close Megan is to filling her shoes. Patty has no qualms about voicing her disdain for Megan. Nonetheless, Megan and Patty share a dressing room and play nice on stage every night.
Brandon Mabe: Brandon has been on stage with the Baldknobbers since he was 22. Now at 31, he’s entrenched in the family business more than ever. He’s next in line to be the creative force of the show after his dad, Tim. This means he’ll be able to provide direction for the show, pull solos and grant wishes of “Branson Fame.” This year, he’s stepped into a more prominent role, running the Baldknobbers marketing, graphic design and theatre management efforts, as well as working 24/7 to keep the show afloat financially. With the weight of the business on his shoulders, Brandon also sings and MCs the show every night. His own family’s survival and the responsibility of continuing a 55-year legacy have all come down on Brandon. He has a very passionate relationship with girlfriend and lead Baldknobbers vocalist, Megan, whom he’s been dating for about three years. But they love each other passionately and are looking to get engaged as soon as they can.
Megan McCombs: Megan moved to Branson from a small town in Iowa to pursue her dream of singing, and she’s now a lead vocalist for the Baldknobbers. She and Brandon Mabe fell in love performing duets on stage, and both divorced their respective spouses so they could be together off-stage as well. They are the couple everyone in town loves to talk about with local gossip rags deeming them the “Brangelina of Branson.” Their relationship is tumultuous, and every Mabe has an opinion about her, but when you’re a rising star like Megan, jealousy and conflict come with the territory. As one of the most talented singers on the Branson circuit, Megan could have her pick of shows, but she’s steadfast in her determination to one day lead the Baldknobbers alongside Brandon.
Breezy Mabe: Breezy is Patty and Tim’s daughter and the only Mabe family member not on stage. While she might one day inherit the Baldknobbers show alongside brother Brandon, Breezy did not inherit the same musical talent. She longs to perform in the show with the rest of the Mabes, but has been relegated to the role of gift shop manager at the theater while she works on singing lessons to prove her mettle. Breezy has worked at the theater since she was 14 years old. A young mom with two children, she’s ready to work on her career and definitely has something to prove. To Breezy, bloodlines mean everything and she thinks that a few songs in the family show are rightfully hers.
Brent Mabe: Brent Mabe is Tim’s cousin and serves as the bass guitarist and band director for the Baldknobbers. Due to in-fighting among the Mabe brothers, Brent’s father sold out his share of the show in the 1990s, when Branson was booming. Now, Brent is still a proud Baldknobber but tries to avoid family conflict despite the fact that he and Tim can sometimes butt heads. That said, Brent seems to be the only one Tim turns to for advice.
Denton Mabe: Denton Mabe was raised at the Baldknobber Theater. His dad was said to be one of the best singers of all time in Branson, and Denton has definitely inherited his powerful voice. Denton’s grandmother sold out her share of the family business in the 2000s, and now Denton finds himself working to keep a foothold in the Baldknobbers production to honor his father’s legacy.
To learn more about “Branson Famous” online prior to the premiere date, check out clips, cast, show information and photos at “Branson Famous,” Like Branson Famous on Facebook and Watch clips and more on YouTube.
Check out the preview and sound off in the comments below! Will you be watching “Branson Famous”?