Ax Men is probably the best show your grandparents are watching, and you’ll just have to take my word on this, because if you call to confirm you’re gonna end up in a 45min conversation about salt substitutes. Last night’s episode, however, was severely lacking in the single best part of the show: Shelby Stanga.
Let me first give you some background on this little piece of programming brilliance in case you’re unfamiliar. Ax Men is a reality show on the History channel (formerly a network dedicated entirely to Hitler biographies) about loggers all over the country, and their harrowing (this word sounds a lot like heroin, which coincidentally is what a lot of these guys look like they just smoked out of an empty Pepsi can) adventures in the industry. The episodes are usually broken up to follow storylines focused on 6 different crews: Rygaard, Papac, Pihl, S&S/Collins (this is two crews competing against each other on the Suwanee River), Browning and Swamp Man a.k.a Shelby Stanga and his trusted dog Piss Willy.
Shelby Stanga is BY FAR the most interesting character on the show. A native of the New Orleans swamps, Shelby can usually be found concocting homemade explosives and shooting his pistol unnecessarily. His dog Piss Willy (who for weeks I thought was named PRINCE Willy) is apparently tasked with keeping Shelby safe from alligators and trying not to die of heartworms. The love that exists between these two often straddles the line between heartwarming and discomforting.
Unfortunately Shelby was nowhere to be found on last night’s episode. Last night was completely dedicated to all the other yokels that inhabit the various logging work sites and hope for nothing more than the opportunity to yell at each other and break for a nutritious lunch of bologna and Pringles on Wonder bread. On the Rygaard site, it was business as usual. Craig (old man) hates Dave (young man) and will stop at nothing to get him fired. Only problem is, Craig’s son Gabe is the boss, and for whatever reason (resentment issues from a deprived childhood, I imagine) Gabe continually takes Dave’s side. Last night Dave almost got some people killed when his slow pace caused a massive log to go tumbling down the hillside, but whatevs. He just chuckled it off as Craig sat back, arms crossed, and mumbled something about oat bran and interracial marriage.
On the Papac site, an old face resurfaced: Joe, the barely intelligible, overly confident lovechild of Lenny (Of Mice and Men reference) and Baby Huey. After previously walking off the site due to an altercation with his supervisor, Joe returned and immediately took it upon himself to aggressively seek a promotion. Of course, the job he’s gunning for is occupied by recently promoted Mike “Coatsy” Coats, who, by nature of the fact that he’s only mildly mentally challenged, is far better suited and qualified for the position. Joe does a lot of chest pounding, Coatsy calls him “dumb,” Joe’s childlike feelings are hurt: Coatsy wins.
Down on the Suwanee River, things aren’t looking good for S&S Logging. After his son assaulted him with a baseball cap last week, Jimmy decides to go it alone. Unfortunately, he can’t seem to find any logs, which is odd since Collins Logging ends up finding like 4 big ones in a row. Obviously Jimmy calls foul play and accuses the Collins boys of stealing logs that he previously marked as his own. He doesn’t seem to care that much, though, considering he essentially just yells this accusation from a passing boat and doesn’t bother to follow-up. Maybe it’s just me, but if two fat dudes stole like $10,000 worth of my shit, I wouldn’t just nonchalantly accost them from a moving pontoon boat. The Collins boys, Joe (no, not the moron lovechild one, the fat ponytail one) and Patrick “Pond Bear” Swilley, eventually come to the conclusion that Jimmy is legally insane, and should just sit back in a rocking chair and collect disability payments from the government. After all, “round here, if you’re that crazy, you don’t have to work!”
Nothing too interesting going on up at the Pihl work site. They got a new “greenhorn” to replace that firefighter chick who quit, and everyone has settled into teasing him like those clever bullies on South Park. Just when the pathetic greenhorn, now referred to as “Butters” thinks the constant hazing can’t get any worse, though, he proves to be the only guy on the site small enough to crawl inside a piece of heavy machinery and screw in some lug nuts. Reluctant high-fives all around!
By the end of the episode, not much had changed. Craig still hates Dave, Joe proved himself to be a complete moron, Jimmy is a bitter drunk who will die alone and Swilley just wants to party. BUT. WHERE. WAS. SHELBY. STANGA!? The commercials promised me Shelby Stanga driving a monster truck with over-sized pontoon wheels, shouting some crazy Cajun nonsense! Are Piss Willy’s heartworms cured? Did his friend’s ribs heal? Does he own a pair of shoes? These are the questions I hope will be answered on the next exciting episode of Ax Men, which, thanks to Super Bowl fucking XLV, will not air until 2/13.