Tarpon Springs Greek reality show airs Wednesday night

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People who live in the Tampa Bay area, but not in Tarpon Springs, know about the cozy little Gulf Coast town for a few reasons – the sponge docks and Greek food and kids jumping into cold water chasing after a crucifix. Now the town will be known for something else, an MTV reality show making its Greek inhabitants look a little crazy.

A trailer for the 30-minute MTV special kicks off with a bunch of 20-somethings dancing and breaking plates.

“This comedic half-hour special follows a group of friends growing up in a strong Greek community. Tarpon Springs, Florida, is an idyllic and picturesque all-Greek town, where everyone is either dating, related, or brawling with each other. Family means everything here; even the overbearing parents and grandparents can get outrageous and festive. These kids have to navigate not only being in their early 20s but also growing up Greek. “Opa,” MTV’s website, describes the show.

But it gets ugly. What starts out as a trailer for a bunch of young adults having a good time quickly turns Jersey Shore drama. There’s a sideways glance from one girl to another implying a possible cheating scenario. There’s a drunken chick fight and drunken chick threats and there’s the Tarpon Springs Police on the scene to break it all up. There’s a girl who gets kicked out of a bar and someone yelling about her birthday.

This depiction of Tarpon Springs Greek life has got a bunch of people pretty ticked off. More than 5,200 people have signed a petition on Change.org calling for MTV to either cancel the show or rewrite it to depict life in Tarpon Springs for what it really is.

The petition page features a photograph of an ornate clergyman blessing a wet kid clutching a crucifix as onlookers gaze in awe.

Unless that petition is successful, which, let’s face it, it probably won’t be, “Growing up Greek” will air Wednesday night at 11 p.m. So, throw some napkins on the ground, eat some Baklava and break a plate. Opa!

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email janelle@floridapolitics.com.