Joan Koplan, the woman behind the new AMC show based in Ringgold, Ga., said she is a reality TV pioneer because everything on "Small Town Security" is authentic.
The candor, the crude cursing, her husband’s hoarding and mismatched hair, the interoffice unrequited love and sexual innuendo—it’s all real. It’s all unfiltered, she said.
“Reality should mean the truth,” she said. “All these [other] reality shows are scripted. This, to me, is really reality, and I think it’s good enough for an Emmy.”
It isn’t what you think
The show, in its first season, features JJK Security and Investigations employees Koplan, her husband Irwin Koplan, Brian Taylor, Christa Stephens and Dennis Croft, who was previously Denise.
Viewers watching the first episode may have expected it to be focused entirely on the 70-guard security business or a “Cops” duplicate with some sort of small town twist.
But this show is about the people.
The first episode reveals that Croft has felt like a man in a woman’s body and that he is in love with Joan Koplan, aka “Chief.”
“My relationship with Dennis is not the way people are thinking it is,” Joan said. “I am not in love with Dennis. I am not sexually attracted to Dennis. He’s in love with me.
"He thinks I’m an alien goddess,” she said, noting that she got a dirty look from someone in the office, presumably Dennis, for that comment during the interview.
In the show, Dennis explains that he thinks he and Joan have been together for many lifetimes. She’s the love of his life, but he understands and respects that Irwin is this life’s husband.
Irwin calls the whole situation “poppycock” on the show.
“Looking for stardom”
Joan, a New Jersey native who moved to Catoosa County with Irwin in 1971, has always wanted to be famous.
“I’ve always been the type that’s wanted to be in the public eye,” she said. “I’ve thought of myself as special. I used to be very, very beautiful. I’d like to be more famous than I am now. I’m looking for stardom, but everything you see on this show is real.”
So many people who had been in Koplan’s office told her how “nuts” the office seemed and commented that it would make a good reality show. So Koplan made some calls and made an audition DVD, and, a couple years later, she is making national news.
Joan admitted that there was some backlash from locals.
Some thought the show was about Ringgold or would show the town in a negative light.
One of her daughters is one of the critics.
Joan isn’t allowed to mention her daughter’s name because she doesn’t want to be involved with the show.
“She’s been against the show since day one,” Joan said. “She thought it would be embarrassing. We didn’t make a porno movie. Then I could see how she could feel like that.”
Joan said she hasn’t hurt Ringgold.
She thinks she’s done good for her city, bringing fans to the area, who will need to stop for gas and possibly dinner and boost the local economy.
Joan, according to Joan
“The thing about me is I am very unusual,” she said near the beginning of the interview. “I feel like I’m 17 years old.”
After living in New Jersey for her teen years, her mother died when Joan was 17. She stayed with her father for a few months and then moved to Miami Beach, where the stars were at the time, according to the show.
And there is more to Joan than seen in the first few episodes of the show, she said.
“I act a certain way in the office because that’s me and I love to kid around and I love blowing farts. It gets crazy,” she said. “Then there is another side of me. If everybody in this world was as good a person as I am, this would be a different world. I’m good to animals. If somebody needs something, I’m always there for them. I don’t like the evil that’s going around today.”
From that train of thought, Joan drifted into talk about criminals who are caught red-handed, how they didn’t deserve a trial and should be immediately executed.
Hopes of a second season
Joan said she does watch the show, which comes on on Sunday nights, and she finds them hilarious.
“I laugh myself sick,” she said. “I look at myself like, ‘I don’t know who that is.’”
In one episode, she laughed so hard that she peed in front of everyone—cameras and all.
“While I was watching episode four, we were screaming in the office because it was hysterically funny,” she said. “I’m watching myself peeing, and I started peeing [again].”
Joan hopes for a second season. She dropped not-so-subtle hints to AMC’s public relations representative, who was on the phone during the interview.
Nooga.com requested to do an interview about how the show is impacting the business, but AMC didn’t allow questions about the business.
An AMC spokesperson also declined to allow Nooga.com to do an in-person interview at the JJK office.
Despite some negative feedback, Joan’s dreams are coming true. And she said she gets constant calls with praise.
Catoosa County columnist Sherry Dee Allen highlighted a softer side of Joan—a mother who donated musical instruments to a local elementary school and ate lunch with her daughters. (Her other daughter is an “actress in Hollywood,” Joan said.)
Allen also points out how Joan has turned her dreams into a reality.
Even people who have said they hated the show can’t stop watching, she said, citing comments on AMC’s Facebook and other correspondence from fans as evidence.
“It’s voodoo or something over their bodies and they are forced to watch it,” she said. “That tells me that this is a hit.”