Only in America, and only on that uniquely American invention of reality television, can a show like “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” not only exist but succeed (because reality television shows were created since we now have a zillion cable channels and not nearly enough smart or talented people to write entertaining shows with dialogue and plots for them). If you’re not familiar with the story of Honey Boo Boo, sit down and get comfortable while I fill you in.
Honey Boo Boo (real name Alana Thompson, also sometimes known as “Honey Boo Boo Child”) first graced our television screens in 2012 when she was a contestant on another reality show, “Toddlers and Tiaras”. That show told us more than we ever needed to know about the whole child beauty pageant circuit, which was mostly that provocative costumes, fake nails, wigs and hair extensions, false eyelashes, and spray tans (and a stage mother prepared to spend whatever it takes) are the tools needed in order for your little girl to be named Miss Most Whatever.
Honey Boo Boo – and her ever-present mother, Mama June – became breakout stars of T&T when an episode of the show focused on Alana drinking “go-go juice” before she competed in the pageant, a combination of Red Bull and Mountain Dew that allegedly contains as much caffeine as 2 cups of coffee and helps keep Honey Boo Boo energized for the pageants. (As Ricky Bobby would say, “She’s all jacked up on Mountain Dew”).
Realizing they had ratings gold on their hands, TLC (which used to call itself The Learning Channel in the old days when they actually featured intelligent shows in their programming) spun Honey Boo Boo and her family off into their own show. And thus the phenomenon began.
Alana, Mama June, Sugar Bear (Alana’s father) and assorted siblings got their own show and we were invited to follow them as they did such interesting and enlightening things as going shopping. Which to them means visiting the town dump and dumpster diving for whatever treasures they can find. In one dumpster visit featured on one episode, Alana let us in on the secret that all of her sister’s clothes come from the dump. We also saw Sugar Bear’s friend, Tony, roll Pumpkin (a Honey Boo sibling) up in a used mattress found at the dump. Wow.
But here’s the thing. I’m not a fan of this show. I watched it once to find out what all the hype was about and lasted about 20 minutes before I had to turn it off. But despite coming across (due in part, I suspect, to the way the show is edited by TLC) as less sophisticated or worldly than others (and you can substitute your own words for what your impression is of them), it turns out that Mama June and her clan are actually pretty savvy financially. According to TMZ.com, Mama June has instructed TLC to put all the money they earn – which is in the $15,000-$20,000 per episode range – into trust funds for her 4 girls (and her granddaughter too) which the kids won’t see until they turn 21. According to TMZ, Mama June said “I want my kids to look back and say, ‘Mama played it smart. Not like those other reality TV people’.”
So, like them or not, watch them or not (I recommend not), understand them or not, but we’ve got to give props to Mama June who may be the smartest and most financially responsible reality star of them all.