Its been called “The Jersey Shore Of Appalachia”, but MTV’s Buckwild last night bested its network time slot predecessor. The 10 PM debut of the reality series, about a group of thrill-seeking young adults in small-town West Virginia, pulled in an audience of 2.49 million viewers and a 1.4 rating over its back-to-back episodes Thursday night. That’s more than 1 million more viewers than the 1.375 million who watched the premiere of Jersey Shore in 2009. Of course, Jersey Shore went on to get record ratings for MTV; at one point, in its third season, Jersey Shore had an audience of 9 million as Snooki, Pauly D and the other housemates became national topics of conversation — even attracting kind words from GOP Presidential nominee Mitt Romney. Jersey Shore wrapped up its six-season run December 20 with soft ratings.

Last month, even before it debuted, Buckwild attracted some of the controversy common to Jersey Shore when Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-WVa) called on MTV to “put a stop to the travesty called Buckwild.” He said MTV president Stephen Friedman and the networkpreyed on young people, coaxed them into displaying shameful behavior — and now you are profiting from it. That is just wrong.”