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The Learning Channel? Honey Boo Boo Season 1 [A Tall Glass Of Shame]

What have I learned from The Learning Channel as of late?… Not much really. Sadly the one channel on television that should be held to some sort of standard when it comes to “learning,” appears to be obsessed with babies, weddings, the Amish, conjoined twins, dance moms, and of course the good ol’ South. If you have caught the newest addition to the TLC lineup Here Comes Honey Boo Boo you just might redneckognize the McIntyre Georgia pageant girl Alana (Honey Boo Boo) and her family.

Here is the extended trailer for Season 1:

In a small home next to train tracks and a gas station, Alana lives with her mom June (aka “Mama”); dad Mike(“Sugar Bear”); and sisters Lauryn, 12 (“Pumpkin”), Jessica, 15 (“Chubbs”) and pregnant Anna, 17 (yup… “Chickadee” is pregnant). Mike works in the Chalk mines by day and prides himself in his family’s “Redneck” association. They attend the Redneck Games and compete in the mudpit belly-flop. They buy their junk food at auctions in bulk and dig for clothes in the dumpster. Just like any other family, they even have a pet pig named Glitzy. Love them or hate them, this family is unapologetic and isn’t asking for your approval. While I started watching expecting to laugh and point at this schlocky hillybilly reality show, I ended up surprising myself… I actually kinda of like this family.

The Thompson family has been panned across the board for what many consider terrible parenting, but in many ways, what modern adult didn’t grow up with a few bad parenting decisions. Often brought up to shame the family, is the mother June’s decision to give her daughter a concoction of Mountain Dew and Red Bull before pageants that they lovingly refer to as “Go Go Juice.” People gasp in horror as this little girl gulps down the unnatural green mess before her pageants, but frankly I saw so many kids drinking twice as much sugary crap at her age that this doesn’t seem to bring about the horrified response from my end. The obesity issue is a big one here and currently seems to be in the focus of our country’s attention as of late. The decisions they make are not smart health-wise, but then again, they aren’t really that different than the majority of Americans. With the family eating terribly at every turn, including “Sketti” which is just spaghetti mixed with butter and Ketchup, I can see how people might be shocked and point fingers at them in regards to setting an example but I also wonder if any of those pointing fingers have ever tried to raise a family of 6 (with one more on the way) on just one income? You have to make due with what you have, but honestly even in my most desperate attempts at saving a buck I think i’d pass on “Sketti.”

“Granted, I ain’t the most beautimous out the box, but a little paint on this barn, shine it back to its original condition. ’Cause it shines up like it’s brand new.” June says after primping herself for her anniversary dinner with husband Mike. There is a certain level of sweet indifference with this family that I find refreshing. So much of reality TV has become about boring rich people fighting about nothing, and for the most part it has driven me away from turning the damn TV on. I kind of like seeing a family not only living their life but trying to instill in their daughters a strong sense of self worth, even if many people might try to put them down because of their financial situation or upbringing. “If we get Alana to practice enough and work on her routines, one day Alana could be Miss America.” says Mike. This man not only says this but you can tell he believes it. These people may come off as a big bold joke to many, but at their core there is a lot of love in this family and they aren’t going to let anybody tell them they aren’t worth as much as anybody else.

I also have been surprised by how open this family is, compared to the modern belief that all rednecks are closed minded. With Mike’s gay brother Lee (also known as “Uncle Poodle”) showing up in this season’s final episode, we got to see the family go about with business as usual. Alana even chimes in with “Ain’t nothin’ wrong with bein’ a little gay. Everybody’s a little gay.” With her love of her Uncle Poodle, she has declared that every gay she meets is an honorary “Poodle.” She even referred to Anderson Cooper as a “Nice Poodle,” when she made an appearance on his talk show.

This girl is hysterical at moments and really sharp. No amount of scripting, or coaching could really “create” a personality like this. Rosie O’ Donnell said it best: “She is like Shirley Temple. She has a presence and an intellect that goes way beyond her years. Some of the stuff that she says and she comes up with … I don’t know.” In most recent news: Rosie O’ Donnell offered to buy them a new home, but June has reportedly already turned down such an offer from TLC explaining that she wants her family to stay “real.”

In the end, it is easy to write this off as more redneck, dumbed down, potty humor, reality TV drivel, but amazingly enough I take away a little more than just the grass clipping fights and the pig “Ooooing” all over the kitchen table. I don’t see this show as the downfall of American culture, I think it is just an accurate representation of “Reality” in small town USA and maybe people don’t like what they see in the mirror. Time to face facts America, this country is fat and getting fatter, teen pregnancy rates may have fallen a bit but are still much higher than any other in the “developed world,” and the “Middle Class” is quickly descending downward while the rich are just getting richer. Grab some GoGo Juice everybody and join in the pageant honey cause none of us are truly that far from this reality.

While the show’s first season is now over, it has been renewed for a second season on TLC and I know I will be watching. You can check out full episodes at youtube.com, watch reruns constantly on TLC, or even check out this season of South Park for their humorous skewering of this crazy family.

Below is a fun Honey Boo Boo Remix for your pleasure. No need to thank me…