Google Something Clever 2.0: My Descent Into the Madness of Reality Television

Aug 10, 2012

My Descent Into the Madness of Reality Television

A friend of mine is a big time reality-TV addict. If you like that crap, you can read her musings on it here. I do not like reality shows, as you could probably surmise from my recent use of the word “crap.” Yesterday, as you may know, was the premiere of “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo.” I’m familiar with this, uh, “little girl” and her mother because I watch “The Soup,” where they often make fun of them. Honey Boo Boo is a chubby toddler with a foul attitude who competes in pageants. Don’t cry about me calling her chubby and foul; I don’t blame her for it. She was raised that way by her morbidly obese, redneck mother. You’ve probably heard about them before and didn’t realize it; does the term “go go juice” ring a bell?

These insults to humanity have become famous thanks to “Toddlers and Tiaras,” the most despicable premise for a show that I could ever imagine (If you’re a social worker in the south who needs to make quota real quick, do yourself a favor and attend a pageant). Apparently, America loves these two so much, they now have their very own show. A show which the aforementioned friend has encouraged me to watch. Now, I know for a fact I will absolutely hate it, but ranting makes for a great blog post, and my husband is away on a business trip (ooh, I feel so grown up typing that!), so I can’t watch any of our regular shows anyway. I have DVR’d the first two episodes, and will now subject myself to them for your amusement.

This is dedicated to you, Maureen.

Episode 1: “This is My Crazy Family”

The opening sequence gives us some background on Alana, AKA Honey Boo Boo. She and her mother are both subtitled. The both have thick accents, and her mother is so fat that she sounds like she has awake-apnea and her soft palate is collapsing into her throat. Honey Boo Boo introduces us to her three sisters. “Pumpkin’s the craziest” (we’re treated to preteen girl’s impression of Steve Martin’s dull child from “Parenthood”). “Anna’s the pregnantest” (I really hope a producer fed her that line). “Jessica is my favorite” (according to the graphic on my screen, she’s known as Chubbs). I’m dismayed to learn that Mama is a year younger than me; she looks about ten years older. The father is called Sugar Bear. There is a montage of the family enjoying various forms of mud.

Mama complains about how sometimes it’s hard to get to get Alana/HBB out of bed before two in the afternoon. I can’t wait to find out what she’s doing to that kid that she sleeps so late. My three-year-old has slept past 8 A.M. twice in his life. Usually he’s up around 7. A scene featuring HBB spilling a giant barrel of cheesy poofs is followed by Mama telling the camera, “As a mother, I try to teach my girls good habits.” Awesome editing, guys. I count Mama dropping four F-bombs in front of her daughters before the first commercial break.

The next act opens up with HBB announcing, “Yes, we are rednecks!” Her sisters disagree, and the parents quickly correct them. So, in case you were about to complain about my characterization of Mama earlier, there you go. The family attends “The Redneck Games.” Mama and the older girls spend some time gawking and making fun of the other rednecks, none of whom are any more of a spectacle than them. Pumpkin “bobs” for raw pig hooves. The pregnant girl (AKA Chickadee), whose t-shirt is hiked up to show off her belly, tries unsuccessfully to get Mama’s permission to swim in a bacteria-infested wallow. Seriously, there are signs about the bacteria. This is the first smart parenting decision I’ve seen on this show.

Chubbs complains that she’s getting too fat while eating a bag of what looks to be pork rinds. She asks her mother to lose weight with her. Mama is not interested. There are people out there who have “five hundred chins,” whereas she only has “two or three.” She knows that she and her family are healthy, because they fart a lot. I swear she said that. The family weighs in. Mama gets an “E” for error on her first try. She tries again and lands on 309 (and if you still wanted to complain about me calling her morbidly obese, you are now out of ammo). She tells the camera she’d like to weigh 200 lb. I don’t know how tall she is, but I’m willing to bet she’s under 6’4”. Two bucks is probably not optimal.

Mama brings HBB to a “natural” pageant. That means no makeup, no hair pieces, no spray tans. I feel really bad for HBB. Without directly talking shit about a little girl, I will say… The competition is fierce. HBB’s face falls further and further with each announcement of the winners. We see her act like a normal 6-year-old for the first time on the show: she cries. Even if you can get past the whole dressing-a-little-girl-up-like-a-whore thing, which this “natural pageant” supposedly avoids, this brings to light the other reason why pageants are wrong: Mama has set HBB up to have other people tell her she’s not pretty enough. That hurts a 26-year-old. Why would you do that to your baby?

Episode 2: “Gonna Be a Glitz Pig”

HBB is sad that she didn’t win at the “natural pageant.” She makes her fat belly talk to the camera about it, saying “those judges were nuts.” Good example of that “everyone gets a trophy” or, “you’re special because you’re you” mentality. So Mama buys her a pet pig. The pig is a male, but HBB plans to dress it as a female, so she says, “he’s gonna be a little gay.” Offensive, but not that surprising considering her location. I’m actually impressed  that she didn’t use another word. The entire family struggles to assemble a Pack & Play to keep the pig in. The do not succeed. I can’t wait to see what happens when Chickadee’s baby arrives.

Mama hires an etiquette coach for HBB and Pumpkin because they “need to learn their manners.” I honestly think she doesn’t understand that this is something she should have taught them herself. My 3-year-old wouldn’t dream of leaving the grocery store without telling both the cashier and the bagger “Bye and thank you!” They greet the coach at the door with a squealing pig. At Mrs. Hickey's prompting, HBB uses her left hand to wipe her nose, then shake hands. Pumpkin is either rebelling or being coached by producers; I can’t tell, but during the dining etiquette lesson, she immediately blows her nose on her napkin, burps, brings up “poo-poo” and asks if it’s permissible to fart at the table.

Mama, Sugar Bear and HBB attend an auction for “household goods.” It’s a trashier version of a dollar store. They end up with a haul of Chips Ahoy and Ruffles. Next stop, the “ultrasound place”! This is not an obstetrician’s office. This is a storefront in a strip mall called “First Glimpse.” I’m getting really concerned for Chickadee’s baby. Does she even go to a doctor? (Another thing I’ve been wondering for a while: when a minor has a baby, who has legal custody of said baby? Chickadee is 17; she doesn’t even have legal control over herself. Can she make medical decisions for this kid? If anyone knows, please comment.) I learn that Chickadee is in her third trimester. This girl is the thinnest person in the whole house! I was 117 lb. when I got pregnant, and she looks about the same size I did when I was five months along. Pumpkin (age 12) expresses confusion when the “medical professional” uses the word “abdomen.” I’m starting to understand how the 17-year-old ended up 100 pounds and pregnant.

HBB requests an ultrasound so she can see the chicken nuggets in her belly. Mama asks HBB if she knows where babies come from... WTF? Shouldn't you know whether or not your child knows that? HBB says they "come from your biscuit." (Mama explains that it does look like a biscuit, if they do it right, like at Hardee's.) I should mention that the producers are really fond of showing clips of the train that barrels through the back yard, four feet from the house, and Mama farting and blowing her nose constantly. It's possible that they're not as trashy as they're made out to be. But even if you deduct 10 points from the Trashy Scale, they are still terrible.

The episode closes with HBB cuddling up with the pig in the Pack & Play (Sugar Bear finally assembled it) and complaining about the pig farting. A disclaimer is splashed across the screen to assure us that no animals were harmed during the making of this production. If only they could say the same about children.