As well as hard-hitting documentaries I also enjoy a few reality television shows. Reality television shows have engulfed modern day life achieving significant popularity and cultural prominence. Why? Well, reality television shows only require a camera crew, an idea and people willing to appear on national television. Whether it be pregnant 16 year olds, posh totty from Chelsea or strangers being piled into the BB House, reality television shows are cheap to produce which, is why so many fill our television guides.
As well as being cheap, reality television shows are created for our viewing pleasure. For an hour or so we’re not expected to ask questions or think about the morale of the show. Instead we’re meant to simply enjoy them. The primary basis for many of these shows seems to be putting regular people in painful, embarrassing, and humiliating situations for the rest of us to watch – and, presumably, laugh at and be entertained by, which we are. It’s an opportunity to laugh at and be entertained those who we feel are less superior. It taps into that sadistic side of human nature; finding pleasure from someone else’s displeasure. Reality television shows also play up to social narratives. We become involved with the characters on the shows and talk about them in our day to day lives as if they are our extended friends or family. Inevitably it becomes a pleasure thats shared within our social circles.
My favourite reality television show by far is: Here Comes Honey Boo Boo. I don’t even know where to begin. Just as I start to type about this terrific show I can’t help but feel this growing discomfort in the pit of my stomach. Shame. That’s what they’d call it. And you know what; I can learn to live with it. Yes I enjoy my true-life documentaries about hard-hitting subjects (yadda yadda) but I also enjoy laughing. And eating. And sleeping. And fluctuating. (Yes, fluctuating) And I’ve also come to learn I enjoy watching people do those exact things too! Especially little fat southern American girls, one in particular named Alana! And here’s where, ‘Here Comes Honey Boo Boo’ comes in! Yes!
American TV Network TLC, formerly The Learning Channel, which began life delivering educational content (ironic), discovered a far more prosperous existence as the creator of hysterical reality swill. ‘Here Comes Honey Boo Boo’ which was a spinoff series of ‘Toddlers & Tiaras’ is where TLC first discovered Alana, ‘Honey Boo Boo’ Thompson and the rest of her “crazy family”. The producers found the rednecks so hilarious TLC decided to make a show about them which has been unbelievably successful here in the U.K as well as across the pond.
Filmed at their humble home in Georgia we’re exposed to the day to day lives of The Thompson family. There’s, stay-at-home mom June, chalk-mining dad Sugar Bear, and sisters 7-year-old Alana ‘Honey Boo Boo’, 13-year-old Lauryn ‘Pumpkin’, 16-year-old Jessica ‘Chubbs’, and 18-year-old Anna ‘Chickadee’ and her baby Kaitlyn. All the characters are introduced by Honey in the first episode, which leaves you gawking at her self-described “redneck” family and pet pig. Honey Boo Boo and her family appear to be enviably cheerful, loving and self-assured. “You like us or you don’t like…we just don’t care” says Mama in one episode. It’s refreshing and entertaining to see a family so comfortable in their own skin, despite being noticeably overweight, slightly dense and poor. Maybe not so poor anymore given the success of the show but nonetheless their lesser off to the average American family. Whilst their grammar “pregnantest” and personal hygiene is lacking you can’t help but to fall in awe of the Thompson family and their humour. Their big bellies and even bigger personalities leave you laughing so hard you cry!
The show is unscripted but is obviously formulated and structured. Each episode consists of one to one interviews with each family member as well as interviews with the entire Thompson clan and footage of the family as they are on an average day. The show is subtitled which is extremely helpful as it’s often difficult to understand the redneck lingo! Sound effects, titles, pop ups and other visual aids are also included which add comedic value but for the most part it feels we’ve gained unprecedented access to possible one of nicest (and craziest) families in America just living their lives!