GateHouse News ServiceI don’t hate the new reality series “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo,” but I should. Everything about this show screams, “You are wasting 30 minutes of your life by viewing this!” After struggling through a mini-marathon of five episodes, I’ve decided it’s not the worst show on television. But it’s close.
Honey Boo Boo, or Alana Thompson, is a 7-year-old pageant contestant from rural Georgia. The show is a spin-off of “Toddlers and Tiaras.” Honey Boo Boo’s father is called Sugar Bear (Mike), and her sisters are Anna, Jessica and Lauryn. The family is pretty crude, don’t start their day before 11 a.m., never met a bag of chips they didn’t like and have very little motivation. While Alana and her sassy, too-much-sugar personality is one focus of the show, much of the series features matriarch June Shannon, who is simply known as “Mama.”
Mama weighs over 300 pounds. I know this because in an early episode, she steps on her bathroom scale in an effort to kick-start a diet in support of Jessica, who also wants to lose weight. But this isn’t “The Biggest Loser.” Mama and Jessica eat junk food, and the closest they come to exercise is riding on the back of four-wheelers.
In addition to the not-really-on-a-diet storyline, the show follows the family as they attempt to fill the long, hot days of a Georgia summer. They go mud bogging (which involves four-wheelers, people and mud pits) and attend the “Redneck Games,” a carnival that includes belly flopping into more mud pits and bobbing for pigs’ feet. In between these activities, Alana cares for and then must give up her pet pig Glitzy (of the tiny teacup variety) and practices dance routines for an upcoming pageant where she will be in character as Elvis. Alana thinks Elvis works for Santa Claus.
In the last episode I watched, Alana’s sister Anna goes into labor. She is 17. Mama had Anna when she was 15. There’s not a lot of talk about teen pregnancy on the show, but Mama does say that her reaction to the news wasn’t “happy, happy, joy, joy.” But this isn’t “Teen Mom.” Mama isn’t going to offer deep insight into the subject because she is savvy enough to understand what the producers want from her. So she plays up her family’s lack of sophistication during her on-camera interviews. She’s kind of funny, loves her kids and generally has a positive outlook.
Other than having one of the more catchy titles for a reality show, there is not much here to recommend primarily because the show invites the viewer to sit in judgment of the family. Having said that, it does offer a version of family life characterized by love and support. I guess that’s why I don’t hate it.
Page 2 of 2 - “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” is on Wednesdays at 10 p.m. EDT on TLC.
Melissa Crawley is the author of “Mr. Sorkin Goes to Washington: Shaping the President on Television’s ‘The West Wing.’” She has a PhD in media studies and is a member of the Television Critics Association. To comment on Stay Tuned, email her at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter at @MelissaCrawley.