The lore, if not the lure, of bachelor farmers has long had a place in Minnesota and the Midwest, from the Herman bachelors of "Today Show" fame to the Norwegian bachelor farmers of Garrison Keillor's "A Prairie Home Companion."
So it's not surprising that network TV, having exhausted nearly every possible reality TV concept, would finally turn to The CW network's "Farmer Wants a Wife," which debuts Wednesday at 8 p.m.
The program's conceit is instantly recognizable in this era where shows like CBS's "Survivor" have meant survival for the medium: Country boy Matt Neustadt, a Missouri farmer who can't find love in his small town, gets to choose between 10 big-city singles, all aspiring to be a real-life version of Lisa Douglas, Eva Gabor's character from "Green Acres."
What is surprising is how Hollywood producers, whose living depends on having the public's pulse, are completely out of touch with today's farmer.
Indeed, if there ever were a time when farmers wouldn't have a hard time finding a husband or a wife, it's now. Spring rains, record commodity prices and a tentative agreement on the Farm Bill have farmers flush with optimism -- if not cash.
And considering how farmers were among the earliest adopters of technology, with computers competing with combines as the most integral farm implement, it's likely that if they met romantic resistance in town, they'd turn to match.com.
"Farmer Wants a Wife" is an interesting look through the pop culture prism at rural America, which has historically veered from the yokel "Ma and Pa Kettle" to the melodramatics of 1980s farm crisis movies. In keeping with today's TV of style over substance, shirtless farmer Matt looks more Abercrombie & Fitch than Future Farmers of America.
Matt's potential brides are made to look even more out of place, wearing high heels in cow pastures and acting more frenetic than the chickens they chase in the show's first competition.
Of course, it's all in good fun. But with farming at the center of energy, environmental and even foreign policy debates putting the back 40 on the front page, there's room for a more nuanced portrayal of farmers than "Farmer Wants a Wife," which may make some viewers yearn for the golden age of "Hee Haw."