Will MTV’s Acapulco Shore make Mexico’s drug-ravaged coast sexy again?

This image was removed due to legal reasons.

Not long ago Acapulco had the reputation of being a romantic Mexican resort town, known for its cliff divers and immortalized by Hollywood royalty; Sinatra crooned that Acapulco bay was “perfect for a flying honeymoon.”


But in recent years the city has been torn asunder by a turf war between rival drug cartels, which, enabled by government corruption, have conducted brutal massacres and beheadings. In 2013 Acapulco, located in the heart of the home state to the country’s armed vigilante groups, gained the dubious distinction of being named “Mexico’s most violent city.”

Now residents have one more thing to worry about: eight aspiring MTV reality show stars who hope to get their sex, drama and mayhem on tape.

MTV has already exported successful “Jersey Shore” spin-offs in the UK, Spain and Poland. Now it’s Mexico’s turn. “Acapulco Shore” is set to air in September with 13 episodes, according to provocative teasers.

The cast is stacked with archetypal Mexican upper class stereotypes: the mirrey or Mexican "Junior" (a self-proclaimed aristocrat obsessed with designer clothes), the charismatic womanizer, the nice guy with a broken heart, the self-styled bad boy (you’ll recognize him by his tattoos), the beautiful yet spoiled brat, the party girl, the dainty and modest lady, and the hipster fashionista gal. Despite all the careful crafting and casting, the characters’ looks and roles could nevertheless prove controversial in a country that suffers from sharp socioeconomic divides. Furthermore, it carries on the discriminatory torch of a Mexican television and advertising industry that mostly features European types.

Still, even if it’s only MTV’s version of reality, the show could help put Acapulco back on the tourist map by projecting a lavish and fun image (hopefully without any drug massacres). In an interview with the Mexican newspaper Milenio, Eduardo Lebrija, vice president and director general of Viacom Mexico, said Acapulco’s government was helpful in facilitating the project, as it did previously for other productions such as “Gossip Girl: Acapulco,” an adaptation of the popular American series. Through these shows, Acapulco's authorities clearly feel that they can help rebrand their city as a town overrun by rich kids, not sicarios.

At a certain level, this type of marketing ploy will probably be successful. Mexican audiences have a demonstrated appetite for this kind of programming; the country has a long tradition of consuming recycled and formulaic telenovelas, which help viewers momentarily escape from the starkness of the nation’s situation, or the gloom of their personal lives.

The question, however, is whether the government and the public will embrace the MTV “reality show” while continuing to fight to change their own reality. A report published last year by Mexico’s National Institute for Geography and Statistics ranked Guerrero as the second state with the poorest youth population.

But Acapulco Shore is aimed at a different demographic of youth — the hoards of wealthy spring breakers who once boosted the local economy by flocking to hotels, restaurants and nightclubs.