As TLC crows about the week-to-week ratings growth for its three week-old reality show about a kiddie pageant contestant and her home life in rural Georgia, a chorus of critics is slamming the show and the network.
The show is “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo,” the first spinoff series from TLC’s kiddie-pageant reality series “Toddlers & Tiaras.” Critics are hoping it’ll be the last spinoff from “T&T,” which is much talked about but also much criticized for the way it celebrates these toddler beauty pageants in which small children — mostly girls, and even a few boys — dress and cavort provocatively before a panel of judges for trophies and cash prizes.
The star of “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” is 6 year-old Alana Thompson — nicknamed Honey Boo Boo by her family — who gained fame as a precocious pageant contestant on “T&T.” Among other things, she was known for being plied with a revved-up, sugary concoction her mother called Go-Go Juice that “energized” the child for pageant competition. Mother June and dad “Sugar Bear” — a chalk miner — also “star” in “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo.”
This past week, TLC declared the clan to be “America’s favorite family” in a press release about the ratings for this week’s episode Wednesday night. Airing at 10/9c, the third episode of “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” drew 2.3 million viewers, rising slightly since its premiere episode, which had 2.2 million, according to TLC.
Are they really “America’s favorite family”? A rising chorus of critics doesn’t think so. “Among the many crimes against humanity that TLC, this country’s most socially irresponsible channel, has inflicted upon viewers, perhaps ‘Toddlers & Tiaras’ is the worst — well, until the breakout star of that show, a precocious/annoying child named Alana but better known as Honey Boo Boo Child … got her own series,” wrote Hollywood Reporter columnist Tim Goodman this past week. You can read his column here.
Describing a scene he watched recently, the THR critic continued: “Honey Boo Boo just got a pet pig (irony lost) called Glitzy. Honey Boo Boo says, in apparent seriousness: ‘I hope Mama don’t eat Glitzy. She eats everything else.’
“In one scene, Glitzy [defecates] all over the dinner table. One of the daughters yells about Mama: ‘She was gonna eat it! It looked like a hot dog to her. A burnt hot dog.’
“Yep. We’re there. At that depth where no one imagined we’d go, even the cynical ones.”
Another critic, Linda Stasi of the New York Post, included “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” in a column this week in which she blasted TLC for “Toddlers & Tiaras,” which she labeled a “horrifying child exploitation show.”
“TLC particularly delights in showing bad parenting,” the Post critic wrote. “Now we’ve got the ‘Toddlers’ spinoff ‘Here Comes Honey Boo Boo’ in our faces. It stars Alana, the suddenly famous child-pageant contestant whose morbidly obese mother, June, looks like something out of ‘Monty Python’ and sounds like she quit school in [kindergarten]. … What is this, the 14th century? [The girls on "T&T"] look like sex slaves at auction to the highest bidder — and that bidder is TLC.”
Our take: Why bring this up? Because we follow the writings of the nation’s TV critics and these two, in particular, don’t usually get up this kind of steam about a TV show. But they did go off about “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo,” and in the same week too. Plus, truth be told: We don’t disagree with them, generally speaking. And yet, several million viewers have granted their approval by watching both “T&T” and “Honey Boo Boo.” We predict that the more the critics complain, the more people will watch.
“Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” airs Wednesday nights at 10/9c on TLC.