If someone asked you what an average reality TV show is about, what would you say? Probably something about attractive individuals in their 20s who are super rich, living in huge mansions, and drinking a lot. Would it be safe to say that an overweight Redneck family of six living in a small house in Georgia is the last thing that came to mind? TLC’s newest reality TV show “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” is just that.
“Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” follows Alana Thompson, 6, and her family throughout the summer. Alana was first discovered on another TLC classic “Toddlers and Tiaras” for some of the craziest behavior and catch-phrases that show has ever seen. Her most famous line would have to be, “those other girls must be crazy if they think they’re gonna best me, honey boo boo child!” Her mom’s questionable parenting couldn’t go unnoticed. To keep Alana’s energy up for the entire pageant, she’d give her daughter Mountain Dew mixed with Red Bull, better known as “Go-go Juice.”
Alana’s family lives by the “this is who I am, take me or leave me” type of mentality. They proudly demonstrate no table manners, eat whatever junk food they want, brush their teeth only on special occasions, and wash their hair in the kitchen sink. They also say whatever is on their mind, and everything they say needs to have subtitles despite the fact that they speak English. But is this what they are actually like when the cameras aren’t rolling? Is their hygiene really that poor, or are they just exaggerating a stereotype for ratings?
The viewing public appears divided. Some people are so opposed to what they see as exploitation of these children that they feel child protective services should be involved. Others believe that their laid back approach can be beneficial, and might be a realistic portrayal of everyday life in a rural community. The controversial aspect of this show has led to ratings higher than anticipated. Whether people love it or hate it, they are watching it. According to the overall ratings of adults between 18 and 49, the episode which aired on August 29th received more viewers than the Republican National Convention, 2.3 million to 1.3 million. The show was only supposed to air six episodes, but due to popular demand, producers rushed to film four more episodes. The family makes anywhere between $2,000 and $4,000 an episode. By the end of the ten episode season, they will have raked in approximately $40,000! There are also Alana ringtones, which you can buy online.
TLC, which stands for The Learning Channel, was created in 1972. It was originally called Appalachian Community Service Network, but got its name changed to TLC in 1980. The channel’s main goal upon creation was to air informational documentaries on nature, science, history, and technology. Ratings were extremely low, so in the mid 1990’s the channel decided to deemphasize educational shows and air more entertainment. The channel has been criticized for airing “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” as well as controversial shows with no educational value like “Toddlers and Tiaras,” “Kate Plus 8,” and “Sister Wives.”