Terry Morrow: TLC cans 'United Bates' reality show from Lake City family

Katie, Alyssa and Trace, front from left, and Carlin and Jackson back from left, are among the member of Lake City's Bates clan.

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Katie, Alyssa and Trace, front from left, and Carlin and Jackson back from left, are among the member of Lake City's Bates clan.

A Lake City family's reality show dreams have been short-lived.

A TLC representative told me this week that "United Bates of America," a reality series featuring Lake City residents Gil and Kelly Jo Bates with their 19 children, has been canceled.

"There are no plans for a season two," the spokeswoman said.

A reason why was not immediately available. However, "United Bates" wasn't exactly a barn burner in the ratings.

The series managed to attract less than 1 million viewers each week, usually more like 750,000. The biggest demographic watching was women, ages 18 to 49.

With the success of hick comedy "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" (featuring a hilarious rural Georgia family) doing more than triple those numbers, TLC now has a new standard when it comes to expectations for a weekly show's performance.

Production of "United Bates" was in Lake City and mainly at the family's home. The show chronicled the everyday life of the mega-family, including how they budget their groceries, do laundry several times a day and homeschool their children ranging in age from a few months old to college age.

The Bateses are traditionalists and ultra conservative. They don't own a television and watched episodes of their show, which ran this summer on the cable channel, from the lobby of a local hotel.

"TV can be a big time-waster," says patriarch Gil Bates of the medium in general. "We're not about to get a TV."

There was good news among the bad: Knoxville was one of the television markets that tuned to the show each week, according to TLC statistics.

Race folks. Pigeon Forge couple Rob Scheer and Sheila Castle didn't have far to travel. As fans of "The Amazing Race" know, the pair was the first to be eliminated this season from the CBS reality competition.

"Race" premiered a week ago.

Scheer and Castle are engaged. He works as a lumberjack entertainer in Pigeon Forge. She is a retail manager in the same town.

East Tennessee doesn't have a lot of luck on this particular reality series. Knoxville resident Brook Roberts, who worked briefly as an on-air host for Jewelry Television, was on "Race" in 2010. She and her partner managed a second-place showing, though they gave up their dignity along the way.

Roberts only lived in Knoxville a few weeks before moving on. She had hopes of being the next Barbara Walters as a result of her fleeting reality fame.

On the Internet, she was best known for an embarrassing clip on "Race," where she launched a watermelon into the face of her partner. Then she was seen chewing out her partner and telling her to get over the smack. To say she was a laughingstock over the incident would be an understatement.

Terry Morrow may be reached at 865-342-6445 or morrowt@knoxville.com.

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Comments » 2

andrews#1389072 writes:

This was a pitiful excuse for subject matter anyway. Good riddance.

Mom2Es writes:

First, I'm glad that the Bates show will not be returning.

Second, Brook Roberts absolutely did not launch a watermelon into her partner's face. Claire Champlin was working her way through a Road Block task, which only one person from each team can do. Claire took the hit from the watermelon after launching it incorrectly from her own catapult.

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