Shain Gandee dead update: BUCKWILD reality star was happy with life before death

(CNN) -- If you didn't catch MTV's reality show "Buckwild" when it premiered earlier this year, then you probably didn't know how adored Shain Gandee had become by the show's fans.

As news spread Monday of the 21-year-old's death, both MTV personalities and everyday viewers chimed in to remember the charismatic budding reality star.

Over the course of its 12-episode first season, "Buckwild's" viewers came to know Gandee as an ebullient young man, one whose "goofy smile and love for 'mudding,'" or off-roading, stood out among the show's nine-member cast, MTV says.

The TV series followed the group as they sought to entertain themselves in Sissonville, West Virginia, and Gandee quickly established himself as a favorite.

His nickname, "Gandee Candy," spoke to his social nature and charm, and better yet, he didn't appear to be playing up a character for the cameras. It may be called reality TV, but those who inhabit the medium are better known for "performing" rather than being true to life. Yet with Gandee, MTV notes, fans appreciated that he embraced who he was and "never [altered] his southern roots."

The 21-year-old, who was found dead along with two others in a vehicle that had been partially submerged in mud, was eager to work with his hands, according to a bio. Having held jobs in coal mining and as a garbage man, Gandee loved to go hunting, four-wheeling and "mudding'" in his free time.

Ahead of "Buckwild's" premiere at the start of January, Gandee told MTV that he was happy with where he was in life.

"Actually, my life's pretty fun," he said. "I don't want it to change."

The network renewed "Buckwild" for a second season in February, and according to the Hollywood Reporter, production has been suspended in light of Gandee's death. The network is said to be presently providing grief counseling for the cast, crew and family members involved.

As for "Buckwild's" future, THR says a decision probably won't be made for another few weeks. The series is produced by Parallel Entertainment along with Zoo Productions, and Parallel producer J.P. Williams told the magazine that they're "taking a few weeks to give the cast a chance to get a handle on this because they're devastated," and will later address "where do you go from here." Ultimately, Williams added, the decision of "Buckwild's" fate will be up to MTV.

The network didn't comment on the future of the show on Monday, but did express shock and sadness over Gandee's passing.

"Our main concern is for the Gandee family and their friends," a statement from MTV said. "Our thoughts and prayers are with them. Shain had a magnetic personality, with a passion for life that touched everyone he met and we will miss him dearly."

 
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