The reality television series Here Comes Honey Boo Boo premiered on TLC in 2012. The show follows the life of a seven-year-old child beauty pageant participant — Alana “Honey Boo Boo” Thompson — along with her mother June Shannon, father Mike Thompson, and her three older sisters. Filmed in the family’s rural hometown of McIntyre, Georgia, the show has been a huge success with American audiences. In this clip, “Mamma” June is making Alana’s favorite recipe: sketti (i.e. spaghetti) with ketchup and butter sauce. The popularity of Honey Boo Boo raises important questions about media’s depictions of class, race and family life in modern America.
How is social class communicated in this clip? What markers of class can you identify here? Consider language, physical appearance, food culture and other aspects.
How are you, as a viewer, expected to perceive the Thompson family? Are they depicted in a positive or negative light?
The show has been immensely popular with American audiences and has become a veritable cultural phenomenon. Would you have expected this popular success? Why or why not? What do you think accounts for its popularity?
Some critics have accused the show of child exploitation. Others have argued that the entire family is being mocked and taken advantage of, with the show profiting from their cultural naivete and need to make quick money.