TLC is at it again giving former Toddlers and Tiaras pageant contestant Alana Thompson, aka Honey Boo Boo, a reality show: Here Comes Honey Boo Boo. The 6-year-old from Georgia made a lasting impression on viewers with her bubbly persona and questionable, but catchy catchphrases (“the other girls must be crazy if they think they’re gonna beat me, honey boo boo child”).
However, the network’s decision to give her and her family their own series only encourages stereotypes that Americans –– especially those who live in Southern states –– are dumb and their children are out-of-control.
People are already criticizing the child and her family for their antics, but the real blame belongs to TLC for putting this on television.
The show premiered Wednesday night and immediately got people talking about the first episode, which showcased Alana and her family at the Redneck Games where her sister bobbed for pigs’ feet. This came after promos showing the little pageant princess telling viewers “you’d better redneck-ognize.” This is just another Alana-ism that will surely catch on with public, like her famous quote, “I like to win because … I like money!”
Most criticism comes from those who think that this show makes all Americans look dumb and money hungry. It’s hard to refute that argument when the show constantly makes references to the couponing prowess of Thompson’s mother, June Thompson (she was featured on the network’s Extreme Couponing show). It also doesn’t help that Thompson’s parents don’t correct her ridiculous comments or acts, which are things any child would do. Rather, they laugh in approval and let their little girl continue on. It’s cute now because she’s adorable and 6, but people won’t be laughing with her if she says things like “A dolla makes me holla, Honey Boo Boo,” when she’s 16.
The network, which actually stands for "The Learning Channel," is known for its plethora of “educational” reality shows that feature everything from women on the hunt for the perfect bridal gown, to the strange sexual preferences of certain people. Over the years, the network that once prized itself on documentaries featuring rare diseases and interesting phenomena is now competing for the title of most absurd reality drama. With outrageous personalities featured in shows like Toddlers, My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding, and Extreme Couponing, TLC easily stacks up against the likes of MTV’s Snooki and JWoww.
In the war for ratings, it’s understandable why TLC would want to make a show out of one of their most outlandish characters from another hit show, but the damage done to the network’s brand (and our psyche) is irreparable. The problem isn’t Alana, she’s just doing everything many 6-year-old girls want to do: dress up in sparkly outfits, drink soda, win prizes, and have a good time. The real problem is a network giving her a show that broadcasts her redneck-loving life, therefore endorsing her behavior. It may not be educational, but at least viewers can learn more feisty phrases to use in life.