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North Dakota’s oil boom lives on in soap opera form

Annie Baxter Sep 25, 2015
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North Dakota’s oil boom lives on in soap opera form

Annie Baxter Sep 25, 2015
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It was only a matter of time before Hollywood took on an obvious target: the drama of North Dakota’s oil boom.

 “Blood & Oil,” a nighttime soap opera, premieres on ABC this Sunday. And it chronicles characters in North Dakota’s oil patch– where even low-skilled workers could at one point make gobs of money. Don Johnson of Miami Vice fame plays an oil tycoon. 

Slate TV critic Willa Paskin says the oil boom is, theoretically, a great premise for a show. 

“You can see exactly the kind of drama that would be: a serious, gritty drama that’s really involved with themes of lawlessness and masculinity and the American West,” she says. 

Paskin says “Blood & Oil” instead focuses much more on typical soap opera themes of money and sex. 

Paskin’s less bothered by the fact that the show is set in the oil boom when the reality in North Dakota today is more like a bust, due to a massive slump in oil prices and oilfield employment there. She says that’s great dramatic fodder for future seasons. 

Whether other parts of the show ring true, oilfield worker Chad Perrault may never find out. He says he’s somewhat curious about the program but doubts he’ll ever watch it. Despite the downturn, Perrault’s still pulling long hours repairing oilfield equipment in North Dakota. That means no time for TV shows after work.

“By the time I get home it’s usually time to eat and then shower and maybe shave and that’s about it. Then go to bed,” he says.

That part of life in the oil patch is probably not the stuff of nighttime soap operas.

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