Why is Honey Boo Boo so popular?

Why is Honey Boo Boo, breakout star of TLC’s “Toddlers and Tiaras” and star of her own new show  “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo,” so popular?

Slate magazine has offered one explanation The author believes the popularity has to do with the faltering economy and the rise of the Hillbilly.

From Slate:

“As Anthony Harkins observes in Hillbilly: A Cultural History of an American Icon, one of the hillbilly’s signature moves is to peak, popularity-wise, just when Americans sense that things in general are headed south. Its first true zenith came in the depressed 1930s, a handmaiden to the birth of commercial country music. Another arrived in the turbulent 1960s, when The Beverly Hillbillies and Green Acres and Hee Haw were in their prime. (Those are hardly the only examples, of course: It also popped up in the Ma and Pa Kettle films of the 1940s and 1950s and Paul Webb’s 1930s Esquire cartoons about “The Mountain Boys,” among other places.)”

“Though the term first referred to mountaineers in the Appalachians and the Ozarks, the hillbilly trope spread to cover pretty much all non-urban territory in America, joined by its cousins in cultural iconography, the “redneck” and “white trash.” Today, people even apply that last term to residents of certain New Jersey beachfronts, for instance. Yet, as Harkins points out, no matter where an alleged country bumpkin comes from, he will be derided for his crass behavior. And such ridicule has always been politically coded: The hillbilly figure allows middle-class white people to offload the venality and sin of the nation onto some other constituency, people who live somewhere—anywhere—else. The hillbilly’s backwardness highlights the progress more upstanding Americans in the cities or the suburbs have made. These fools haven’t crawled out of the muck, the story goes, because they don’t want to. …”

“As that distribution of power becomes more and more unequal, it’s no surprise to see the hillbilly here again—on Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, on Jersey Shore, on MTV’s 16 & Pregnant and Teen Mom franchises. These shows reassure us that our struggle is worth it, all economic evidence to the contrary—if only because we would never belly-flop into the mud on cable television. Here Comes Honey Boo Boo casts this socio-economic divide in especially sharp relief, since the show is rooted partly in beauty pageant culture, which, in its own idiosyncratic way, indulges the American belief that you can work and spend your way to greatness. If you can afford the entry fees, the glitter, the makeup, the coach, and the stylists, you will be the Ultimate Supreme, as they say in the business. You’ll have the sash to prove it.”

I have not seen Honey Boo Boo’s new show, but I did see Honey Boo Boo on “Toddlers and Tiaras.” Just the commercial for Honey Boo Boo’s show makes me uncomfortable. My 5-year-old  just stares at the commercial: “What’s that squealing in her house?” Me: “It’s a pig” Lilina: “Well that doesn’t seem right.” So even the 5-year-old knows that doesn’t seem right.

We used to love the “Beverly Hillbillies” growing up. I still use Jethro jokes about my math (naught plus naught equals naught). But I am extremely uncomfortable with the Honey Boo Boo show, and I guess it’s because she is from Georgia, and I don’t want people to think all Georgians are like that.

(I do think that Honey Boo Boo’s family is hamming it up for the camera. I hope they are.)

When I was little I visited friends in Connecticut. Their friends asked me if we had indoor plumbing. “Well of course we do.” They wanted to know if we had cars. “Um yes. “

I just don’t want the world thinking that all Georgians are like Honey Boo Boo.

How do you feel about Honey Boo Boo’s show? Do you think it has to do with economic confluences bringing back the Hillbilly icon? Do you worry that people outside the South will think that’s how we all are?

Want more on Honey Boo Boo? Check out Rodney Ho’s blog and Jennifer Brett’s blog.

75 comments Add your comment


August 29th, 2012
2:43 pm

TWG I know you pull from various things….I just keep rembering all those post about that “other show” and hope we don’t end up there again.


August 29th, 2012
2:49 pm

Enter your comments here


August 29th, 2012
2:56 pm

These people are NOT acting. I think that the little girl is adorable. It looks like to me that everything is about her though. They DO have some other children there. Everything is about honey boo boo. They are very uneducated people. Where does dad work??? Does mom work at all?? How are they paying for these pageants and stuff?? We have all seen this before, she will follow in her mother and sisters footsteps. They don’t even ahve the sense to recognize that the only reason TLC put them on tv is so that people can laugh at them. I think it’s sad.


August 29th, 2012
3:17 pm

The dad works in a chalk (?) mine and is a volunteer fire fighter. The mom does not work but is an extreme couponer. How they pay for the pageants, I don’t know.

I don’t know why they call the show “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” because they call Alana Honey Boo Boo in their family. Her mom calls her something like smootchie smootch. I think the whole Honey Boo Boo thing came from her “famous” “a dolla makes me holla honey boo boo” (insert neck roll).

This family is funny but disturbing. I do think they are playing it up for TV because NOBODY thinks it’s okay to fart at the table (one daughter asked the etiquette teacher if it was okay) and I can’t believe that anybody would put a pig on the kitchen table…Glitzy then pooped on said kitchen table. I’m not a dedicated viewer but I like Alana. She’s a cute little girl. She is being encouraged to do outrageous things for TV on both this show and Toddlers and Tiaras…at least that is what I’m going with so I don’t have to believe that she thinks showing the world her belly fat and patting/squeezing on TV it is normal. I think she is smart and very sweet. Their family has a lot going on but it is obvious, to me anyway, that they love each other and enjoy being together.


August 29th, 2012
3:31 pm

Can we talk about the terrible new AJC web site? Blue underlines on everything that turn purple when clicked. How ’90s of you! And the home page has something stuffed into every single possible white space and giant ads also. Take a clue from “real” newspaper web sites like the Washington Post, NY and LA Times and even USA Today.


August 29th, 2012
4:04 pm

First and fore most, who are you to judge? Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but don’t judge a book by it’s cover. This family may not be like you and your family, but they are a happy loving family who could care less about what others think of them. Do I agree with everything they do? Of course not! But what you don’t know is that this family does everything together and they do so much for their community. So before you go bashing them, know the facts. How many of you have assisted in a food drive, and who has dressed up like Santa Clause and handed out candy and toys to the needy? They live differently than you, so what. At least they aren’t ashamed of who they are!


August 29th, 2012
4:21 pm

I grew up in the eastern Ohio Valley/West Virginia area. Pure Hillbilly and coal mine country. But when I go home to visit my parents, WEST VIRGINIANS make fun of us. Now that’s just sad. Thanks Honey Boo Boo….


August 29th, 2012
4:39 pm

All I am saying is that when my daughter tries that neck roll on me.. it’s not a pretty sight. People think it’s funny and cute now, but what about when she is a pre-teen or teenager and is doing it with attitude because she cannot get her way? I am not judging this little girl nor her family parse, I just don’t want my daughter to think it’s cool or okay to act a complete fool.


August 29th, 2012
4:41 pm

About Momania: A Blog for Busy Moms
A daily guide to raising healthy children without going insane

How does this apply to the description of the blog?

Embarassed Georgian

August 29th, 2012
4:43 pm

Beam me up, Scotty. There’s no intelligent life down here!


August 29th, 2012
4:59 pm

this family makes me sick, the mother should have had all these kids taken away from her. big fat loser, each kid has a diffrent daddy…funny we dont see her on Maury asking who is my babies daddy


August 29th, 2012
5:07 pm

@Sarah..Too funny..I was born here in GA and have lived in the Atlanta area all of my life and they made fun of me in West Virginia also..

: )

August 29th, 2012
6:16 pm

So much focus on the little girl while the mom looks like a thumb with facial features drawn on it? That’s what made me stare!


August 29th, 2012
6:36 pm

Make it against some other group, and there would be marches and maybe firebombings, plus a federal investigation. However, mountain folk are fair game! Mountain folk have enough trouble without $h!t like this.


August 29th, 2012
6:58 pm

After 21 years in middle class suburbia, I came to work in Southern Appalachia. It was quite an eye opener for me, but back then you could easily hear Elisabethan-type phrases from plain people who had little to no education. Anyone know what “slut’s wool” is?

It has been almost 40 years. Things have changed a lot, but the folks are still good people.


August 29th, 2012
8:24 pm

{shrug} People like train wrecks.

The assumptions that we’re all like this white trash really aren’t that different from assumptions that anyone connected to the northeast is like Jersey Shore, or that every blonde on the left coast is as classless as a Real Housewife. About the only region that doesn’t get some negative imaging from TV might be the midwest … and that’s because they’re considered fly-over states (which kind of carries it’s own stigma).


August 29th, 2012
9:41 pm

The show is HILARIOUS. The family is proud of who they are, and the mom is genuinely funny. If you haven’t seen the show, stop the criticism.


August 29th, 2012
9:53 pm

Redneckinize – HAHA! I love when she says that.

It’s funny when it’s on TV but if my niece rolled her neck and talked sassy like that I’d pop that butt


August 29th, 2012
10:22 pm

Different cultures within the great ole’ US of A. I may not share the same culture but as long as they are law abiding citizens and I’m not contributing via taxpayer $$’s, who am I to judge? Aside, they seem to love life as well as their family.

Btw, anyone who stereotypes this program as to what all Georgians are like would indicate THEIR ignorance, not ours.


August 30th, 2012
2:31 pm

Mother was 14 years old when she squirted out this rug rat.

The entire family got their intelligence and social graces from the shallow end of the gene pool.

Honey Boo Boo is the best reason I have ever seen for forced sterilization.


August 30th, 2012
3:12 pm

So what LOL

I don’t like the term “Redneck” being used in the show by these folks but I guess you still have those types out there. Honey Boo Boo makes Toddlers and Tiara actually FUN to watch. It’s their antics which is funny.

While the self-sophicasted stuck-nose views this as disgust, I view it as comedy. Reminds me of the Beverly Hillbillies. Have we gotten so stuck in the mud that we can’t view shows anymore with light-heartedness or does it always have to be “Politically Correct”?

Their not hurting anyone. Infact, their probably getting rich off all the media attention given to them by this show.


August 30th, 2012
3:20 pm

“Mayhem, that child will NEVER be a child TV star”

She is now fool! on T L C!


August 30th, 2012
7:56 pm

This show is such a guilty pleasure. You NEVER know what antics will abound with this family. You have to take it for what it is … mindless entertainment. Are they really all that different from the Kardashian clan..sure they dress and talk differently but are actually more entertaining. I have to admit I almost killed myself getting back to the TV thinking i might miss forklift toe. I was disappointed..I expected far worse. A baby with two thumbs…HELLO…. have you been watching this show at all ??? ;) I am not at all surprised it pulled better ratings than the republic convention….


August 30th, 2012
8:37 pm

I’ve watched HBB and yes rough around the edges but they genuinely love each other and that is refreshing. They have a lot of fun as a family, who cares if it’s in mud pits. Maybe we would all have similar fun if we weren’t all so uptight. June seems to be a loving mother, never looses her temper over things that would have me screaming bloody murder. Their house is clean, their yard and home is neatly kept. Yes the 15 year old is pregnant and they are keeping the baby. Not sending her for an abortion like many of the people who think themselves better than this family would do rather than let the community know thier child was pregnant. June is overweight and is accepting of the fact, she admits it and was willing to try to diet for her girls sakes. Her partner Mike loves her and seems to be well liked by all the girls even though only the youngest is his. I say a man who can accept a houseful of someone elses kids is Ok in my book. Seems they are happy with the hand they were dealt in life and everyone throwing stones should just leave them be and change the channel if you can’t stand watching a happy family interact.


September 4th, 2012
9:46 pm

I am am a retired physician. I am deeply concerned about the family on this show and their seeming inability to take responsibility for their lives. The most disturbing thing I have seen was in the episode when the family went to the water slides. Apparently the mother always wears a sock on her left foot. The children had never seen the foot and were begging the mom to take off her sock. Finally she did, and it was a pretty scary. She has an open wound on her great toe and what looks very much like osteomyelitits, an infection of the bone. She is seriously in need of medical treatment…a surgical procedure to remove all that dead tissue and probably intravenous antibiotics. Worst of all was there were BUGS, probably gnats, flying around the foot. And this was at a public water slide! It represents a public health hazard. I would think any official in the public health department seeing this situation would intervene and get treatment for this lady..