We all holla’ for Honey Boo Boo!
The newest reality-show hit is TLC’s Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, the spinoff of Toddlers & Tiaras. Since its debut, folks coast to coast have been talking about the show’s star, six-year-old Alana Thompson, and her, um, unique family.
Of course, that talk starts after everyone has finished picking their jaws up from the floor. As you probably know by now, the Thompsons aren’t the Trumps or Kardashians. They’re proud to embody every Southern redneck cliche in the book – roadkill dinners, mud bogging, burping and gas-passing, bobbing for pigs’ feet at the local fair. Alana even has a miniature pet pig that she keeps in her bedroom.
But if you take a minute to wipe away a little of the mud, you’ll see some things about the family you might actually admire. Mom June is no spendthrift – she’s a champion couponer who makes sure her husband and daughters are well-supplied with necessities. Her frugality in other areas helps pay for Honey Boo Boo’s pageant hobby.
They have fun together. June and her girls (Pumpkin, Chickadee and Chubbs are Alana’s big sisters) are often shown bonding over paper-towel fights, grocery auctions and the aforementioned redneck fair. It’s not every mom who’ll cheer heartily for her kids as they belly-flop in a mud pit and plunge their faces into a tub of pig parts.
They have some sense of decorum, however small. The Thompson women may wash their hair in the sink, but at least their hair is clean. June brings in an etiquette expert to help Alana develop the manners she’ll need if she wants to make her beauty-queen dreams come true. And June draws the line at totally tacky clothing. Overweight women, she says, shouldn’t go around in tank tops and Daisy Dukes: “All that vajiggle-jaggle is not beautimous.”
They love and support each other. Chickadee is a teen mom (she’s shown pregnant in the show, but she had her daughter a few weeks ago), but June, who’s been there herself, doesn’t lecture or evict her. The whole family goes to her sonograms, and Alana can’t wait to be an aunt.
And for all their idiosyncrasies, the Thompsons are a tight-knit, confident bunch. No angsty soul-searching or self-esteem issues here. Maybe that’s what we secretly like about the show, even as we laugh and gawp.
Other reality families have lessons for us, too. Click through our gallery and see if you agree.
Here Comes Honey Boo Boo airs Wednesday nights at 10:00 EST on TLC. Beautimous!
Here Comes Honey Boo Boo 1 of 6What It's About: A sassy 6-year-old kiddie pageant queen and her earthy family.
What We Can Learn: Be true to yourself. Honey Boo Boo's folks couldn't care less whether you approve of their redneck style. What We Might Disagree With: The Thompsons aren't exactly a poster family for health. Mom June and her four daughters are obese - and their junk-food diet doesn't help.
See more of Honey Boo Boo here.
19 Kids and Counting 2 of 6What It's About: Now entering its 6th season, this "one big happy family" series is one of the most popular reality shows running today. What We Can Learn: How to maintain grace and love under the most difficult circumstances. The family stayed strong through the heartwrenching stillbirth of a baby girl earlier this year. What We May Disagree With: Mom Michelle's views don't always sit well with viewers. She calls overpopulation a "myth," has her teen daughters help care for their siblings and practices a modesty code that includes no beach visits (so the boys won't peek at bikinis).
See clips from the new season here.
The Amish: Out of Order 3 of 6What It's About: Ex-Amishman Mose Gingerich and his family help other excommunicated members transition to the "English" world. What We Can Learn: Families are built in different ways. What We Might Disagree With: Leaving a restrictive community is a brave and individual choice - but does freedom really have to mean smoking, getting tattoos and driving fast?
See more about the Amish here.
United Bates of America 4 of 6What It's About: Like their friends the Duggars, Gil and Kelly Jo Bates have 19 children - and would welcome more. What We Can Learn: Families of any size can be loving and fun-filled. What We Might Disagree With: The Bates children lead a very sheltered life - no TV, computer or dating, and they're homeschooled to keep them from "bad influences." Is isolating a child the only way to foster goodness and morality?
See more of the Bates family here.
American Colony: Meet the Hutterites 5 of 6What It's About: A small religious colony in Montana lives and works together. What We Can Learn: A simple life can be rewarding. What We Might Disagree With: The sect's strict rules and gender-based roles. Girls can be shunned for taking a man's job or working outside the community.
Learn more about the Hutterites here.
High School Moms 6 of 6What It's About: Young mothers attend a special high school that offers child care and counseling in addition to English and geometry. What We Can Learn: Everyone deserves a second chance, and teen motherhood doesn't have to be a dead-end street. What We May Disagree With: Shows like these are thought to send mixed messages: "Being a young mom is hard!" and "Being a young mom can get you a TV show and millions of Twitter followers!"
Learn more about the girls here.
[Photos: via TLC, National Geographic Channel]
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