I remember when I was in college back in the late 1990's my friends and I would rush home from class to watch A Baby Story and A Wedding Story every weekday afternoon. In the mornings the same station showed wonderful shows on fitness and nutrition; in the evenings they aired fascinating programs about nature, the human body and other scientific phenomena. The Learning Channel (TLC for short) made us feel a little better about watching TV when we probably should've been somewhere studying.
But if someone had told me 15yrs later this same channel (which still has the call letters TLC) would be home to such shows as Toddlers and Tiaras (inside the world of hotel ballroom kid pageants and pageant parents), My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding (the gypsy subculture has the most outrageous weddings and events. BLING!), Extreme Couponing (these people clear out grocery stores for like 10 dollars after multiplying then subtracting tons of coupons. And I will admit its kind of amazing) but tonight topped them all with the premiere of Here Comes Honey Boo-Boo!
Now I consider myself somewhat of an expert on pop-culture so when it comes to these reality shows I'm not ashamed to say I watch a lot of them if for no other reason but because it may come up on a big screen electronic trivia game at a bar one night and might help me get my wing basket on the house, but I digress... That being said, I was familiar with little miss Alana and Mama June from both Toddlers and Tiaras as well as Extreme Couponing, but nothing could've prepared me for the display I saw tonight. I've heard this 6yr old pageant contestant drawl her catch phrase "A dolla makes me holla Honey Boo-Boo!" and "You betta redneckognize!" (instead of recognize) on the previous shows and the commercials so I wasn't expecting Emmy award quality TV by any means. Based on the commercials with her sisters arguing "We are not rednecks" with her parents, I was hoping the show wouldn't fuel the ignorant southerner stereotype, but unfortunately that's not the case.
I literally sat with my mouth dropped open as I watched back-to-back episodes of this family from Georgia somewhere near Macon as they participated in the "Redneck Games" (which involved such events as bobbing for raw pig feet and belly flopping in the mud), the mom making a (possible) joking reference to scratching the "bugs" in her hair, farting contest as part of losing weight, a pet pig as a consolation prize to losing a beauty pageant for Honey Boo-Boo, and the entire family (including the 6yr old) accompanying the eldest daughter (age 17) to her OB/GYN ultrasound for her soon to arrive child. They even let Honey Boo-Boo put the ultrasound jelly on her sister's belly and... wait for it... HBB even put some jelly on her stomach and asked the med-tech could she see the chicken nuggets she'd eaten earlier that day. The med-tech happily obliged.
I had said earlier today Here Comes Honey Boo-Boo would culturally balance out the shame of shows like Love & Hip-Hop ATL and The Real Housewives of Atlanta, but after watching tonight there is a greater level of deep seeded concern for Little Miss Alana and the rest of the "Boo-Boo" family. LHHATL and RHOA are "reality" shows that are often scripted, twisted and edited to highten the drama and shenanigans. Sadly this is not the case on Here Comes Honey Boo-Boo. The southern accent and dialect is so thick they had subtitles for most of the cast commentary. You can't script or set up a redneck festival complete with a mudhole and Confederate flag decorations in the middle of nowhere. Allow me to paraphrase the gospel great Shirley Caesar "Naw...Honey Boo-Boo ain't playin' this time". NOPE these shenanigans are real and raw bringing shame to whatever school district is closest to the city of production. How in the world does a channel that used to stand for "The Learning Channel" feel like airing this is ok? Unless this is a terrible trick and a zenith comes at the end of the season highlighting Honey Boo-Boo, her sisters, along with her parents being tutored and participating in honors ceremonies I guess I'll continue to watch with entertaining disbelief.
TLC the only thing I've learned from watching this show is a new meaning for "biscuit", but I'll be tuned in next week for sure!