I am beyond intrigued by this show and I’ve yet to even watch more than minute-long clips.
It’s not showing in the UK, but I keep coming across little commentaries on it which are entirely not what you’d expect.
If you haven’t heard of it, it’s basically intended as laugh-at-the-hilarious-antics-of-the-underclass TV in the same vein as Big Fat Gypsy Wedding and virtually every other reality TV show, with the exception of those laugh-at-the-stupid-posh-people ones.
It features the eponymous star, Honey Boo Boo, 7 (I think), and her out-and-proud ‘redneck’ family. Mama is fat, the 17-year-old has just given birth to her first child and dad’s family nickname is Sugar Bear. Paints a picture, don’t it? Yup, these people have the word ‘trash’ struck through them like a stick of Blackpool rock.
Or do they?
Because from the stuff I’ve seen, this family seems to be getting a lot of things right.
The show presents a family who love each other and are fully integrated as a family unit. Dad Mike, despite working seven days a week, is a fully paid up member of the clan, doing what he needs to support the family financially but also partaking of every aspect of his kids’ lives. And the man sure loves the lot of ’em. They spend their time having fun; not just allowing it to stray into their lives, but actively seeking it out, making time for it quite deliberately. The kids seem happy and secure. Sure, there’s a lot of bodily emissions going on, but who’s counting that when you’re building a mud slide?
What’s especially intriguing for me is the girls.
Honey Boo Boo (or Alana), is an enthusiastic pageant entrant. Along with fun-killing feminists everywhere, I have deep problems with the concept of children’s pageants and, as I’m generally speaking to fun-killing feminists here, I won’t need to explain why. Suffice to say, I have doubts that pageants’ focus on beauty (and underage sexiness) is the best way to foster girls’ self-esteem in any meaningful or healthy way. That way eating disorders and body dissatisfaction lie, right?
Except Honey Boo Boo, along with her sisters, is on the chubby side. She is as unself-conscious about this as she seems to be about every aspect of her appearance or, indeed, herself. The older daughters (though I’m not sure about the oldest), are refreshingly the same. They are goofy and funny and seem to spend none of their time thinking about how they look; they just get on with being themselves.
Sorry, hit publish by mistake there.
As I was saying.
These girls are a joy to watch, as far as I’ve been able to watch them. They live and play in a world seemingly devoid of pressure to look a certain way, or if there is pressure, they seem entirely unaware of it. Mama clearly plays a part in this; her ‘take us as you find us’ attitude extends to everything about the family, including the way they look. The only time I’ve heard weight mentioned was when Honey Boo Boo was corrected by her father that the family weren’t ‘fat’, they were ‘pleasingly plump’.
I’m sure the idea was that we were supposed to laugh at them, but they’re so free and unburdened by themselves that you can only laugh with them. It’s a nice feeling.
Mama’s ‘take us as you find us’ attitude seems, beautifully, to extend to others as well. They are entirely accepting of a gay uncle (whilst over-fond of gay stereotypes, but still), and when the oldest daughter’s baby is born with an extra digit they appear to accept it and move on.
Sure, the family are by no means perfect; from feeding Alana Red Bull to being convicted felons, they have their issues. But, hey, what family doesn’t? And I’ve not seen most of this family’s ‘not perfect’, so I’ll add that disclaimer to all of this.
But like Balpreet Kaur, whose dignified reaction to her attempted public humiliation for daring to be hairy made the OP of her photo look more like a turd squeezing out of the bottom of humanity than he did already, it is possible – just possible – that this family may rise above what they were set up for.
I really can’t wait to watch it.