Move Over RNC: Here Comes Honey Who Now?

31 08 2012

whitney-butler

TLC has mastered a large corner of the reality show market by producing programing that is so specific to a niche it’s embarrassing that people can be calculated so precisely into a ratings metric. They’ve got it down to a science. If you’re a single lady try masturbating to 4 Weddings. If you have a fetish for little people no problem, they’ve got that too! And if you love watching how many children the poor mother from 19 Kids and Counting can effectively give birth to, then you’re like me, waiting to find out if little Josie Duggar grows up to become a stripper. TLC’s latest masterpiece is Here Comes Honey Boo Boo. The fourth episode that aired this Wednesday gathered up more viewers than Paul Ryan’s speech at the Republican National Convention with 2.9 million viewers between the ages of 18 and 49 according to Nielsen’s rating system.

Here Comes Honey Boo Boo is about a family from a slow town in the south somewhere, with a deliberate emphasis paid to their redneck-ness. The child star Alana, is a rosy-checked cherub who competes in beauty pageants with her miniature potbelly pig named Sparkles or Glitzy or something. She’s out-spoken for a 6-year-old, enjoys bodily functions and running wild. I fucking love her. The three older sisters discuss being overweight apathetically and compete in competitions like bobbing for pigs’ feet at the local watering hole where people go to cool down in the summer. They also make homemade slip-n-slides out of Saran Wrap and soap, explaining to the camera that maintaining all of their front teeth proves they are in-fact not rednecks. I like these girls as well.  The father, affectionately called Sugar Bear, is a secondary character. He just lets the women run the show while he chews tobacco, makes ineffective sexual advances at his baby’s mama and mumbles stuff the subtitle guy from TLC just makes up half the time. But the best, most absolutely wonderful part of this show is the mother, a morbidly obese, self-appointed redneck that’s even more outspoken than sweet Honey Boo Boo.

whitney-butlerWhether she is sneezing on camera like I imagine Paul Bunion would or rationalizing her weight as she breaks the scale in the bathroom, I think this woman and her family are exactly what the landscape of reality TV needs right now.  This is perhaps the most accurate portrayal of American reality I have ever seen. Fuck-off Jersey shore, if that were reality everyone would be broke because they wouldn’t be able to walk to work from swollen calve muscles and  hair gel would become a black market currency. Celebrity reality shows are also a poor representation of reality. What percentage of Americans get to fly all over the world in private jets, wear fabulaous clothes, attend extravagant parties and enjoy an unobstructed media stoplight? Some of those people were at the Republican National Convention, and their ratings still weren’t as good! Or how embarrassingly awkward the mating ritual looks on The Bachelor: watching adults dry-hump each other until they end up on the reality show, Intervention! Well, that might actually be closer to reality.

Here Comes Honey Boo Boo is probably the most accurate depiction of American family reality I’ve seen to date. Some kids, a pet, a working husband, a house, a car, some fun weekend activities and they like eating food. And the best part is that this family doesn’t apologize for any of it. They are who they are: fat, loud, simple and redneck and that’s just fine with them. If anything I think we all can learn a thing or two from this family and particularly this mother of four. June isn’t married to Sugar Bear, but seems very happy with their relationship- that’s pretty progressive in my opinion. She is also incredibly comfortable being a plus-plus sized woman, going so far as to lovingly acknowledge the various zip codes inhabiting her chins. If any of the real housewives had as much confidence as this woman, we probably wouldn’t have any shows called The Real House Wives of (Fill In Your City Name Here).

So, thank you TLC for producing another show that I will likely follow. But shame on you TLC for carving another perfectly calculated niche group into your repertoire that appeals to people who will likely not appreciate these incredibly lovely people. Instead TLC banks on people tuning in to see what kind of ridiculous redneck-ery these folks get into, then compare their equally boring life to conclude a realization that proves their life is somehow superior.

Reality is so much stranger than fiction.

whitney-butler

 

 

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