These are pretty bright guys, actually.
I read a NY Times article about the show that said the same thing. I remember it quoted as saying, "you can't tell if they're serious or just pulling your leg," or something to that effect. That's what makes it special. It's not mocking rednecks, it's having the open-mindedness to actually engage and understand them. These guys are just good old Southern boys. I know plenty like them, some minus the beards and some with them. I hunt with them. These guys have the same sense of deadpan humor as guys at the deer camp drinking beer. Many of them have the same beautiful women as their wives. Mrs. Kay is just the classic Southern "Ma."
I think it enlightens people outside the South, and even surprises them, that people that look and act so backwoods are smart enough to have such a sense of humor. It's not that they lack IQ that is the reason for their lifestyle, it is that they embrace their culture and thoroughly enjoy it, and appreciate the self-deprecating aspect of it. I think that is the case with most Southerners. Although we all don't embrace "Redneckedness" to that extent, we can (some of us) go to a business meeting in New York and be as sophisticated as any other, albeit with an accent, but when we get back to the South we are are most comfortable being "Southern."
And those who are turned off by the scriptedness, there isn't another show that is any less scripted unless it's documentary (and even then..). Their reactions to the scripted scenes are genuine for the most part. Seinfeld is scripted too, but I can appreciate a humor that is non-calculated and non-rehearsed and just organic, not "well acted." Si simply can't help himself. He is just a naturally funny man. Jase is just clever and smart, and therefore is funny off the cuff. I've met plenty of people in real life just as funny, especially when they get to drinking, but you never thought that aspect would be portrayed in a non-mocking way in another backwoods, redneck, Southern reality show.
There could be college courses studying the huge success of this show. There probably will be, actually.