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
1:21 am

I haven’t seen it, but I had to take a boo boo while ago. Too much fiber.

El Mongol

August 29th, 2012
1:41 am

I think people love to see someone worse off than they are. When you see this pitiful family it makes it easy to feel superior and that our lives really aren’t too bad.


August 29th, 2012
3:48 am

The whole family is going to regret this show along with every generation (God forbid) of this family to come. I grit my teeth even at the commercials for the show. But low class morals, and being all around ugly trash is what gets you on t.v. these days. My only hope is that heart disease, drug overdoses, and a couple suicides put an end to this family.


August 29th, 2012
6:28 am

For the same reason people cannot help themselves from watching a train wreck.

If people would stop watching this crap, and stop talking about it then she wouldn’t be the cash cow for the network. Her sister is a teen pregnancy statistic. How about we discuss that instead…..how the family stayed so focused on precious Honey Bobo and what did they do for the other child.

The 15 min of fame on this family should have been over months ago.


August 29th, 2012
6:28 am

This show shows the lowered standards of TLC. This show is trash! I am glad I have a choice as opposed to only 3 channels when I was a kid……..but this kind of crap wouldn’t have been on TV!


August 29th, 2012
6:30 am

TWG, I know you said that blogs like this gets lots of hits. However, remember that your regulars got sick of the Fame Seeking Goose Mom blogs, and most every other reality show you mention. Please don’t go back to blogging this crap often and adding to demise of the thinking public.

johnnie boob boo

August 29th, 2012
6:31 am

‘bless their heart’. (with the appropriate accent and intonation).

Mildred Fierce

August 29th, 2012
7:37 am

You have a kid named “Lilina” and youre judging these people without even seeing the show? Does that glass house you live in get cold during the Winter?


August 29th, 2012
7:44 am

I try to use shows like this as a positive in my life: I ask people their opinion of these shows (bachelor series, jersey, etc) and based on their response, I form my opinion about the person I’m talking to. Saves a lot of time and effort.

Yes, I know, don’t end a sentence with a preposition. Feel free to form your own opinion about me. I can take it.


August 29th, 2012
7:48 am

Y’all guys need to lighten up on this show. Honey Boo-Boo is just a real life version of the Beverly Hillbillies. Some of it is not even that – they showed a homemade slip and slide that the family made that took me back to my childhood as a “poor” Georgia boy. I personally HATE the Toddlers and Tiaras thing and I HATE kiddie beauty pageants, but the show itself is funny because of the real-life antics of this family. But don’t criticize it until you have seen it – you might find some gems in there. Like when the one sister decides to go on a diet and asks her mother to join her – her mother says “I am comfortable in my own skin, but I will diet with you to show I support you.” These are not tragic people, these are generally happy folks who live in their own way – just differently from most of the rest of us.

BTW – for you judgers out there – you would have judged my parents as “white trash” when they were some of the best people in the town – they just didn’t keep their yard all pretty.


August 29th, 2012
7:53 am

I haven’t watched it. I really don’t understand the trend on TV these days to put outrageous behavior on display (see also: “Jersey Shore,” “Bridezillas,” “My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding,” etc.). However, I guess it grabs ratings – everyone wants to see someone who acts worse than they do, I suppose.

I think the majority of people out there would understand that this family is, at best, exaggerating their behavior for the camera, or at worst, not a representation of the typical Georgian family. Much like I don’t believe that “Jersey Shore” represents the typical New Jersey resident. But maybe I’m just too optimistic.


August 29th, 2012
8:17 am

Your 5 year old sure is judgmental. Gawd forbid it was a black pig.

Jawga Boi

August 29th, 2012
8:21 am

People are naturally drawn to the sublime. Just as The housewives of Atlanta have created a negative stereotype of the souths major city, Little Honey Boo Boo shows up in rural Georgia. All I can say is – “It’s time to paint the barn.”


August 29th, 2012
8:38 am

I had no idea what this was, when I saw Honey Boo Boo on someone’s Facebook last week. Still not interested.

When I spoke at the New Jersey Speech and Hearing Conference, several years ago, an SLP came to me and said…”You do know our state is NOT JERSEY SHORE.” I laughed and told that while I do not watch that show, there is NO show IMHO that can describe an entire state. I was intrigued with Chris Christie last night.

Have a nice day all!

K's Mom

August 29th, 2012
8:40 am

First of all, everyone get over yourselves. The show is hysterical and I am college educated, read books and have indoor plumbing. I also have 2 small kids, we have just moved and I have not yet made many friends and my husband travels and works long hours…so I need a bit of an escape now and then and right now Honey Boo Boo and the occasional People magazine are it. You do not have to be intellectual and refined every moment of every day.

Also, if folks think that everyone from GA is that way and look down on the entire stae because of 6 people, it is their problem. I have lived all over the US and the highest concentration of rednecks I ever encountered was in a small community outside of Philadelphia where we lived for 3 years. Rednecks are everywhere, not just the south.


August 29th, 2012
8:47 am

I traveled on business a few months ago to Bakersfield CA and who knew that’s it’s the redneck capital of the west? Oil and agriculture and settled by southerners who went westward. Felt like I was in Chatooga County GA not California :)


August 29th, 2012
8:59 am

Your bitchiness is in public on here. Consider emailing your complaints to TWG.


August 29th, 2012
8:59 am

@FCM – Thank you. Much better said than what I was thinking.


August 29th, 2012
9:00 am

First I have heard of it — Certainly no plans to learn more.


August 29th, 2012
9:02 am

I watched this show once and thought it was funny..It’s just like wrestling and all of the other “reality” shows, it’s all for fun..You just have to pick the ones that you like..

Like parent said, this reminds me of my family, I have a niece that talks just like the Mom does and she doesn’t put up with a lot of crap..So, if you don’t like it, turn the channel, it’s that simple..As for a pig in the house, when they are as small as the one they had, it’s no different than a dog in the house..Been there, done that..


August 29th, 2012
9:03 am

Have not seen the show, only the commercials. The title alone made me do a double take. I really don’t plan to watch it, because unfortunately, shows like this one do exploit people. In regards to Teen Mom, my understanding is that the producers require the girls on that show to set aside so much of their earnings in trust for the children, such as college or say major medical expenses arise. While yes, Amber is clearly the train wreck plot line for the show, at least the producers are being responsible in thinking through how that source of income may do more long-term harm than good without some proper controls.

That said, I cannot help but notice the snarky, ignorant, and race-baiting remark by the Slate author concerning middle class white people. I’m sorry, but this ignorant fool, like most of the liberal press, seems to think that only white people are capable of snobbery and bigotry. However, I think we all have seen plenty of examples where snobbery and bigotry exist in other groups of people even on so-called reality TV!


August 29th, 2012
9:05 am

@FCM….GOOSE? After your comment at the end of yesterday’s blog I thought we were friends….haha! No, I do not have a brood of children, just work with them!

@ BlondeHoney…traveling across the country teaches us all sorts of things about all sorts of people…doesn’t it?


August 29th, 2012
9:09 am

This child is not popular and her family is exploting her and this is close to child abuse. No child should be shouting (I am a redneck) on national TV. These parents are not teaching her anything.


August 29th, 2012
9:10 am

@ Tyler

“My only hope is that heart disease, drug overdoses, and a couple suicides put an end to this family.”

That post makes me speechless, what a horrible comment.


August 29th, 2012
9:13 am

I never did watch Toddlers & Tiaras but I did go online and watch the first episode of Honey Boo Boo after reading Jennifer’s blog. She actually made them sound fairly normal and endearing.

I do cringe to think that people not from the south will think all southerners are this way, but I’m sure there are people from New Jersey who cringe at the Jersey Shore show too.

Judge Smails

August 29th, 2012
9:21 am

If we were to stop watching the show and talking about them, they would just go away.


August 29th, 2012
9:22 am

Because you give them the attention they are seeking. By writing about her, by watching the show, etc.

I refuse to watch this crap!!! Thank god for the DVR.


August 29th, 2012
9:41 am

I think you need to watch it before you judge it. You might just be surprised. I was.


August 29th, 2012
9:58 am

Well, first of all, it had one strike against it just being a “Toddlers and Tiaras” spinoff. I watched ONE show of that nonsense — it was like watching a car wreck, you just couldn’t take your eyes off it, because you just cannot believe that there are parents out there who are so friggin’ STUPID. The ONLY thing those pageants are good for is putting money in the organizer’s pocket. You’ve got these families who are paying all this money to SPRAY-TAN A 6 YEAR OLD?!? Paying over $1,000 for a dress for a 7 YEAR OLD?! ARE THEY OUT OF THEIR FREAKIN’ MINDS?! They say they are wanting to put money away for college, well, they’d do better to take all that money they are spending on costumes, spray tans, hair dos, and dance lessons and putting it in some sort of bond fund. And some of the moms!!! The one I watched had a mom who pouted worse than her 5 year old when her daughter didn’t win — and the 5 year old was crying because MOMMY was upset, not because she lost (because, honestly, she didn’t really care, she was just having fun). Pageants for this age group don’t teach poise and confidence — pageants teach you that you are judged strictly on how you look. Wow — great lesson. Better to have poise and confidence based on your abilities, not how much mascara you slathered on that morning. (stepping off soapbox)

I saw 5 minutes of HBB when I was channel-surfing one day, and 5 minutes was about as much as I could take. I hope like hell the family is hamming it up, because, otherwise, this is their 15 minutes of fame and then hopefully, they will fall back into obscurity. It’s the Beverly Hillbillies on steroids, but instead of making fun of the “cement pond”, they are making fund of their own children. What kind of parent puts their own child, never mind themselves, up for that kind of ridicule? Is there absolutely no dignity or self-respect in the world anymore?


August 29th, 2012
10:22 am

This IS what the world thinks of Georgia! She represents so well! Especially outside of the city core. I crack up every time I see Honey Boo Boo say “a dollar makes me holla” in the commercial. Awesome!


August 29th, 2012
10:39 am

I am a retired I/T professional, and I really like this show. I first saw Alana in Toddlers & Tiaras. Unlike most of the commentators above, what I see is a child who is very intelligent (she can read, she knows her numbers over 300, she knows a little Spanish, she is quick-witted and funny!). I also see a child who has a lot of charisma and charm. She might be a little rough around the edges right now (she is only 6), but I think in the long run she will be successful. Most importantly though, I see a happy little girl with a loving family and home environment, never mind the train tracks.


August 29th, 2012
10:44 am

Beverly Hillbillies was a SCRIPTED MADE UP tv show with characters, not a “reality” tv show with real family members. BIG difference there!

We just don’t watch that stuff in my house, we aren’t intrigued by it at all. Maybe it’s because when it’s reality TV, and the people on it are acting a fool, it’s a little hard to swallow because those are REAL people and therefore you cannot blame it on “oh they are just acting”. We will just stick to Food Network, Discovery, NATGEO, and USA. Thanks….but no thanks.

Logic please...

August 29th, 2012
10:48 am

This show is sick … as is any show that focuses on a preschooler.


August 29th, 2012
10:52 am

All these “reality” shows are just as scripted and contrived as “regular” tv. And I agree with MJ, the family seems loving and supportive of each other. I think Alana will be just fine. I personally don’t think I want to watch a show about conjoined twins but whatever floats TLC’s and the public’s boat is fine with me. Unlike Augusta, we have 7 tv’s and 150 channels. :)


August 29th, 2012
10:56 am

We watch and laugh along w/ the family. I am convinced mamma June is incredibly smart and knows just what she’s doing. Bottom line, this family loves each other and that’s refreshing to see on television. Sure the oldest is now a teen mom statistic. Alana is a bit rough around the edges but as another posted commented, she’s very bright and endearing. I really enjoyed the family’s food drive effort in order to give back to their community. You have to watch the stuff with a tongue-in-cheek attitude. As for stereotyping southerners…my girls got hit with all sorts of questions when we moved to MN. Everyone expected us to be farmers or something. Umm nope, came from metro-ATL. :)


August 29th, 2012
11:00 am

It’s funny and entertaining…and good TV.

Sadly, there are so many things we can see wrong. The bad language, her poor diet, the mom’s health…the list goes on I’m sure. Toddlers & Tiara’s is over the top for me so we haven’t watched Miss Honey Boo Boo Child or whatever her name is. I let my girls watch T&T sometimes but I’ve expressed for them that we’ll NEVER be in a pageant like that. I personally think, it’s sad but hey…whatever floats their boats.


August 29th, 2012
11:08 am

MJG I was refering to that TLC family (who I refuse to name accurately). Not you.


August 29th, 2012
11:08 am

TWG..I laughed when I read what Lilina said because just the other night I was up with my daughter who was sick. We were flipping through Netflix shows (we don’t have cable) and came across Toddlers and Tiaras. Neither of us had seen it. She watched about 10 minutes of it and said..”Something just doesn’t seem right about these people”. Guess my child is judgmental too. I, for one, was glad she noticed.
btw… I think Lilina is a beautiful name.
I hate these kinds of shows and think it says a lot about the state of our society that these kinds of shows make the ratings. I grew up on Little House on the Prairie and the Cosby Show. My kids love both of these shows as well as tons of others from that time period. I’m sure there is a market for “good” television. What has happened to TV?


August 29th, 2012
11:18 am

I’ve not seen anything other than the previews but I swear I have some cousins in Chicago that could be the twin family to them so I don’t think area/region has anything to do with class.

Scott Fresno

August 29th, 2012
11:21 am

Watched 2 episodes on YouTube. The show was both horrible and hilarious. I do think that when times get tough people often tend to like to do a little downward social comparison. The bonus was it reminded me of my ex-wife’s extended family.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

August 29th, 2012
12:19 pm

Homeschooler — I think our little ones are showing common sense. Should pigs run loose in a house? no. Lilina is named for her Italian grandfather who was Lilino — born in Italy and lived in Italy most of his life — It’s the feminine form of the Italian name.

FCM — I try to mix it up — look at the last 10 on the side — we’ve had drugs, exercise, politics with kids, a news story about daycare workers and some entertainment. I try to pull from different areas.


August 29th, 2012
12:36 pm

TWG – you actually RESPONDED to someone who challenged your kid’s name? And politely? Better than me on this fine day. :-) If I am pronouncing it correctly in my head it is a beautiful name.


August 29th, 2012
12:39 pm

4-year-old has been shot….Is Clayton County hell?


August 29th, 2012
12:42 pm

Yes Jarvis, everyone knows Clayton County is the drug/thug capital of GA


August 29th, 2012
12:44 pm

Whenever I see the name “Honey Boo Boo”, I keep hearing Allan Sherman’s voice in my head, singing a line from his version of “Chim-Chim-Chiree”:

“I sharpen my boo-boo, and use it to shave!”

Also, though it’s been years, whenever I pass over TLC on the channel guide, I keep hearing Kate Gosselin’s screeching voice yelling, “COME AND GET YOUR POPCORN!” from a preview of “Jon & Kate Plus 8″ when they did a Family Movie Night, and rented a popcorn machine.

As for the hillbilly craze from the 1930s, there was no mention of the then-popular comic strip “Li’l Abner”, which was based in the Ozarks, and where the phrase “Sadie Hawkins Dance” came from. Also, not to mention “Snuffy Smith”, which my great-granddad loved dearly.

And who could forget Mr. Walt Kelly’s “Pogo”?


August 29th, 2012
12:44 pm

“This child is not popular . . .” And your point is? Only the “popular” children are worthy or interesting? Give me a break. I won’t likely be watching the HBB show, but not because the LITTLE GIRL is not some snob’s definition of “popular.”


August 29th, 2012
1:08 pm

Honey Boo Boo’s family is proud of who they are. What is so bad about that? As far as June goes, she is comfortable in her own skin and teaches her kids to be the same. Y’all should get off your high horse. The show is hilarious.


August 29th, 2012
1:17 pm

There should be a bounty on people like this white trash embarassment.


August 29th, 2012
1:44 pm

If Augusta were here, she would say this family is sacrificing the child.

HELL YEA. Because in 3 years, she will be a has-been, washed out, drug-riddled, broke former child tv star. Good choice there Mom. Sacrifice the kid for fame.


August 29th, 2012
2:28 pm

Mayhem, that child will NEVER be a child TV star.