It started with a turd and a dream. Or, as Mary Winchenbach prefers to say, a “tird.”
Winchenbach, who lives in the Lincoln County town of Somerville with her wife, Deb, and their three children, started making jewelry and home decor about 15 years back out of a substance that’s plentiful in the Maine woods: dried moose poop. As Winchenbach says, she saw a moose turd out in the woods one day, and decided to put eyeballs on it. The rest is history.
Though Winchenbach for more than a decade made a nice little side income selling poo poo clocks, poo poo platters and “fecal people,” after a video of her selling her wares under the name Tirdy Works at the Common Ground Fair went viral in 2018, her business exploded. Soon enough — and unsurprisingly, given Winchenbach’s natural charisma and the sheer oddness of the literal crap she sells — reality television came calling.
The resulting series, “Tirdy Works,” debuted Tuesday on TruTV, showcasing Mary, Deb, their kids and the good-humored townsfolk of Somerville, as they build their unusual business, one “tird” at a time. It’s just the latest in a number of reality shows set in Maine, including “North Woods Law,” “Downeast Dickering,” “American Loggers” and “Maine Cabin Masters.”
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The show is, in many ways, a pretty typical reality TV series, with some predictable beats like other “unscripted sitcoms” like “American Chopper” or “Duck Dynasty.” But what sets “Tirdy Works” apart is Winchenbach herself, a quick-witted, no-nonsense, chicken-raising, pot-smoking Mainer with a penchant for poop puns and a genuine love for her family and community.
Though she may exasperate some of the people around her, her infectious energy and sense of humor makes her as magnetic a reality television personality as there ever has been — not to mention the fact that she also moonlights as a standup comedian.
Somerville, a town of about 550 people about 15 miles east of Augusta, serves as an ideal setting for a show that is a showcase not just for the megawatt charisma of Mary, but for the townsfolk — from hard-working teen Dale, to good-natured fire chief Mike, to Tammi, who calls herself the “bitch on the hill,” but has a tell-tale twinkle in her eye. Especially entertaining is Mary and Deb’s daughter Katie, a sarcastic teen with dreams of becoming a pro wrestler, who serves as an excellent foil to Mary’s wild ideas.
It all plays like an actual sitcom, rather than an unscripted reality show, with Mary and Deb at the heart of an oddball small town, like “Northern Exposure” or, more recently, Canadian comedy series “Letterkenny.” In this case, the Maine accents are 100 percent real — unlike so many other shows set in Maine — as are the relationships. And that makes for some seriously entertaining TV.
“Tirdy Works” airs at 10 p.m. on Tuesdays on TruTV.