Here Comes Honey Boo Boo

“Here Comes Honey Boo Boo,” one of the highest-rated reality shows on American TV, revolves around child beauty pageant contestant Alana (“Honey Boo-Boo”), her three sisters (nicknamed “Pumpkin,” “Chubbs,” and “Chickadee”), her mother (“Mama June”), and her father (“Sugar Bear”). Set in a small, rural town in the southern U.S. state of Georgia, the show documents the everyday lives of this working-class family, who many people might stereotypically deem “rednecks” or “white trash.” In fact, the show often seems to play into these insulting stereotypes by poking fun of how they speak (the show provides subtitles as if they are speaking in a foreign language and often depicts them misusing basic vocabulary), their appearance (Mama June’s fat rolls, neck hairs, and disfigured feet are are a frequent source of humor), what they do for fun (in one episode, the family attends a local event called the “redneck games,” during which the girls of the family have fun by hurling themselves into a giant mud pit), what they talk about (farting is a main topic of conversation), and what they eat (they buy junk food at discount prices and are seen eating “sketti”– spaghetti covered in ketchup and melted butter– out of used plastic butter containers ). For these reasons, the show is frequently criticized as offensive and exploitative. The show is broadcast on TLC (The Learning Channel), but what is it exactly that we are meant to be learning? That we are so much smarter and more fortunate than this family? Is part of the show’s appeal that it makes the audience feel better about themselves by denigrating others? And what does this say about American culture, especially in relation to class?

STUDENTS: Post an example of a reality television show from your own culture that you think says something important about cultural identity. Provide a brief analysis as I have done above.

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