Dawn Muenchrath/the Gauntlet

Debate: Honey Boo Boo Child


Publication YearIssue Date 

Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, starring the seven-year-old, pageant-loving Alana Thompson, has carved a place in the hearts of audiences, offering the world an escape from reality. It is this escapism that appeals to television watchers and is clearly beneficial to society. 

TLC’s latest reality television invention takes viewers to a world where no thinking is required — a stark and refreshing contrast from a real world where critical thinking clogs our mental capacities. Instead, thinking is replaced with simple, more understandable concepts, like watching the train go by the house from the front steps, making the bed in the morning, the mysterious concoction “go-go juice” or convincing “Mama,” June Shannon, to buy a pet pig. Gone are the subtle nuances of clever, network television shows that confuse even educated audiences. They have been replaced by a show concerned primarily with simple, silly dance routines for the next big pageant. 

This type of programming allows its viewers to relax and laugh at the simpler things in life, such as pet pig Glitzy relieving herself on the kitchen table. The complexities of real life can be escaped when the central concern of the main characters is finding enough toilet paper coupons for the next shopping trip to the local Piggly Wiggly which, according to Mama, is “better than sex.”

Perhaps viewers of the show secretly wish to play a role in the world of Honey Boo Boo. The self-described “rednecks” claim they do not care what others think of them — an enviable quality for many people. “We are who we are,” says Mama. “We like having fun. If you’re not having fun doing it, why do it to begin with?” This idealistic yet unsophisticated train of thought frequently triggers situations involving flatulence and other embarrassing situations, inspiring others to be indifferent to their own eccentricities. Viewers can identify with the show’s characters and their ambitions to be freed from the expectations of a restrictive society. 

Understandably, concerns have been raised about the controversial television program. The welfare of the show’s children has been criticized, particularly for the family’s burgeoning waistlines. However, the family is making an active, collective effort to keep their weight gain to a minimum. Naysayers have also mentioned that the show degrades television broadcasting as a whole, but its popularity proves that audiences enjoy Here Comes Honey Boo Boo and that its simplistic nature provides an escape for people. Reality television is not a problem, but rather a solution that soothes the aches and pains of busy lives.

There is a growing trend of television programming that can be classified as escapist with very little thought process required. Among them are Jersey Shore, Keeping up with the Kardashians and Toddlers and Tiaras — the program that first introduced Alana Thompson to the world. Though these shows are often scoffed at by television critics for their nonsensical, ridiculous nature, they give audiences a form of entertainment they can identify with that is approachable, fun-loving and light. Viewers of Here Comes Honey Boo Boo need not feel guilty, for it is their well-deserved and well-intentioned escape from real life.