This article examines the way in which Coal, a Thom Beers reality television program that aired for ten episodes on Spike TV in 2011, depicts ideas about masculinity, nature, and sacrifice. Coal is the story of a group of workers in a small mine in McDowell County, West Virginia. Like other reality television shows that focus on dangerous occupations in extreme environments, Coal accentuates the macho attributes of these workers and features a group of men putting their bodies on the line in a battle against the environment. This article suggests that the show deploys ideas about nature, tradition, sacrifice, and masculinity to construct a sense of authenticity and a narrative in which these men are struggling to survive not only the dangers of the mine but also a wider set of economic and social changes taking place across North America.

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