Honey Boo Boo brings reality back to reality television

Reality television shows are often dramatic and entertaining, and they tend to exploit the lives of their cast members. So when TLC first presented the show “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo,” the obnoxious antics of this Georgia family weren’t surprising. While the show seems slightly more disturbing because of the young age of its star, I can appreciate the openness and realness of the family. From farting to burping, this family is not afraid to let it all hang out and brings truth to the word reality. This is a truth that has gone missing from reality TV.

“Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” centers on the life of 6-year-old beauty pageant queen Alana Thompson, or Honey Boo Boo. Thompson’s former stint on TLC’s “Toddlers & Tiaras” granted her a spin-off. The show focuses on her beauty pageant journey as well as striving to display the importance of their simple glam-free life in McIntyre, Ga. The cast features her mother and father, June Shannon and Mike Thompson  — Sugar Bear — as well as Alana’s three sisters. The family consists of self-proclaimed rednecks and has even coined popular terms such as “You better redneckognize” or Alana’s coined phrase, “A dolla makes me holla!”

TLC has been criticized for the exploitation of this little girl, her family, Mike and June’s lack of parenting and the portrayal of certain stereotypes, but this is the type of reality TV show we need.

Joy Behar from “The View” slammed Alana’s weight, saying: “What’s little Honey Boo Boo going to grow up to be? That’s what I want to know. She’s going to be a fat kid; she’s going to grow up to be a big fat woman.” Residents of McIntyre are also criticizing the family, saying they are shedding negative light on small-town life and their town, specifically.

The Washington Post’s pop culture journalist and critic Hank Stuever praised Honey Boo Boo, saying, “She’s a Shirley Temple for this ceaseless Great Recession!” But he also went on to mention that “Alana has been raised to express herself in the urban patois of reality TV’s black women,” basically saying there may be an underlying theme of racism in the show.

Yes, it is clear that Mama June and Sugar Bear need to reassess their parenting skills. With all the head rolling, finger snapping and sassiness of Honey Boo Boo’s persona, Stuever’s commentary isn’t far-fetched, but critics are missing the positive messages this show presents.

What critics don’t understand is that reality television nowadays is as superficial as can be and lacks true and relatable storylines. The characters of these shows too often spend large amounts of money on things they don’t need, argue over things that don’t matter and glorify a life of stupidity.

Even through her glam beauty pageant life, the only thing Honey Boo Boo and her family strive to glorify is the importance of being comfortable in your skin.

There are a range of negative opinions on Honey Boo Boo, but viewers should appreciate the mud rolling, go-go juice drinking and “sketti” eating antics of this family. Although the family may seem to fulfill many stereotypes, their honesty and complete comfort with themselves is what makes this family likeable.

Other reality television shows tend to center on the superficial themes of fame, money, partying and sex. And though the beauty pageant element is something that can be classified in the previous categories, the cast of “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” legitimizes and reinforces the importance of enjoying and leading a simple life.

In a way, it’s something we can all relate to.

Many of us may find it obnoxious and nontraditional to roll around in mud, make farting noises or openly squeeze our bellies, but viewers who closely watch “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” will learn that this nontraditional, real and loving family represents and possesses a happiness and contentment that many people are missing.

Ta’les is a junior in Media. She can be reached at opinions@dailyillini.com.

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