Reviewers all but barfed but Americans, it turns out, can’t get enough of Honey Boo Boo, mom June, and the rest of the clan, which includes two other sisters by two different dads, the newborn infant of one of the teenaged sisters, and various men, some of whom come with nicknames that seem straight out of quaint novel about those colorful southerners, like Sugar Bear.
Sure enough, a backlash to the backlash soon developed. Honey Boo Boo, various critics proclaimed, might be eating cheese balls for breakfast on camera, but no matter! The show is really about the love family has for one another! How dare we critics living in upscale enclaves like New York City and West Los Angeles, turn our blue state Pinot Grigio sniffing noses up at this proud Red Bull redneck clan living in red rural Georgia? That Here Comes Honey Boo Boo trafficked in and showcased the grossest of gross stereotypes about lower middle class southern white folk was deemed inconsequential. The family, led by matriarch June, was in on the joke. How could the family be exploited if they actively wanted to be exploited?
Well, something called dwarf tossing was once legal too. Really, folks. It was quite a big deal when I was a teen, and people defended it in the usual ways. The little people are okay with it. They have a hard time getting jobs, so why not stuff them in padded suits and toss them at padded walls? It’s funny and no one is getting hurt. It’s a paying gig, right? Well, after a few years of this, most of us agreed that dwarf tossing was not so humorous, and states like New York and Florida moved to ban the popular nightclub stunt attraction. Pretty soon, we had dwarf families celebrating their freedom from padded suits by getting their own reality shows where, to the best of my knowledge, they did not get tossed.
So back to Honey Boo Boo. This is where I go all serious on you, and point out that you might think you are watching a show about a loving if unconventional family but what you are really doing when you turn the television on to this train wreck is participating in the destruction of what is left of the American working classes. Here Comes Honey Boo Boo is an unintentional reality show documentary demonstrating what happens when the jobs go away, and there is little way to make an honest living. You see social dysfunction, teenage moms, semi-employed men who come and go, maintaining tangential relations — at best — with their children. You get moms who actually think kiddy beauty pageants are their ticket out of poverty — if only their child can win the jackpot. You get families that are so off the grid of middle class life, the only chance they have of living in that world is to agree to offer up their own hardscrabble lives as entertainment for the rest of us.