A lot of people write about Here Comes Honey Boo Boo like they’re writing about the orangutans at the zoo, and I hate it. I am a longtime defender of the Honey Boo Boo clan, mostly because I don’t understand what’s so exotic about them. Sure, they eat roadkill. Sure, as they did endlessly on last night’s season premiere, they like to wrestle. Sure, they literally live beside the train tracks. But I keep wondering how the people who express bewilderment at all that actually live — apparently it’s in total isolation from any vulgarity whatsoever, and with whistle-clean gastrointestinal tracts. The roadkill thing is a little weird, but as I watched them butcher a hog in the premiere, it did kind of seem like one solution to industrial meat in the post-Omnivore’s Dilemma age. I’ll take grit to, well, shit in my meat any day.
Obviously, one reason Mama June bugs a certain swath of the populace is because she’s the anti-Brooklyn mom. I’m not sure that “organic,” “BPA,” or “Montessori” are in her vocabulary. She has a deep accent and has probably never read Eat, Pray, Love. Her couch has cup holders and a recliner level in it, the kind of thing Crate and Barrel would never sell. In fact, the only way she resembles an upper-middle-class mother of the kind you’ll see in tonier neighborhoods around the country is in the fact that she was bent over her phone for much of the premiere. But she’s not an inattentive mother. I agree with Slate’s Willa Paskin, who says the family displays “deep familial affection.” And it annoys me that people who don’t watch the show mutter about child abuse when it’s pretty clear there’s none of that going on.
Is that TLC’s fault? Sure. I’m pretty convinced, for example, that the “redneck slip and slide” Honey Boo Boo and her sisters put together last night with Crisco and Country Crock was a producer stunt. The “scratch-and-sniff” promotional material for the show, designed to make fun of the family’s love of methane, is just gross. But to be honest, I’m much less annoyed at them than I am at MTV, say, for coming out with the third edition of a show that turns its underage stars into epic trainwrecks. Or Bravo, for airing endless trumped-up catfights. The truth, after all, is that that redneck slip-and-slide looks like a lot of actual fun. The Honey Boo Boo clan, in short, is just enjoying itself on television. Which to me, anyway, seems a lot better than either suffering publicly or being terrible assholes for ratings.