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Showtime’s Lock N’ Load: Hollywood Finally Lets Gun Owners Speak

Showtime's new reality series manages to look at Americans and guns without pushing an agenda.

by
Christian Toto

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October 21, 2009 - 12:06 am
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How dare a television show portray gun owners as anything but drooling, neo-Nazi killing machines?

Showtime’s new six-part reality series, Lock ‘N Load, lets gun owners speak for themselves for a change. The series, which debuts Wednesday night, focuses on a Colorado gun shop where everyone from gun nuts to gun-totin’ grandmas comes by to reload.

The series doesn’t take a stand on gun ownership. It simply lets the store’s more colorful customers make their own cases, all egged on by “gunslinger” Josh T. Ryan.

The man behind the counter is a fledgling actor who came up for the idea for the series. In reality show terms, that’s a dicey proposition. Is he an actor portraying a gun store clerk or an actor who realized his part-time gig as a gun salesman would make an intriguing reality project?

We’ve been asked to swallow much more from past reality shows, but suffice to say the interactions between the affable Ryan and his customers are strong enough to sell the vehicle. You just have to wade through the first uneventful episode to discover why.

The store in question is The Shootist, a family-owned outlet based in Englewood, Colorado, just a short drive from Denver. Ryan stands behind the counter, always loaded with at least one good punch line for his customers. Three video cameras catch the customers in action. Occasionally, the cameras move downstairs where clients can fire their new weapons in a basement shooting range.

The store setting wears thin quickly, and should the show get picked up for a new season Showtime would be wise to open things up beyond its four walls.

Ryan does step out briefly from behind the counter to compete with a female customer for skeet shooting bragging rights, but the moment is undermined when the show hides her background.

You simply can’t take a reality series at face value these days.

The Shootist’s customers prove to be an eclectic bunch, a few proving more entertaining than the affable Ryan. Some are simply gun fanatics who can tell you every single part of the AK-47, while others just want protection against home invaders.

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