Is Here Comes Honey Boo Boo the worst thing on television? Probably. Is it the worst thing to happen in terms of confirming ignorant opinions from the rest of country about Southerners since The Beverly Hillbillies? Definitely. (And really, that’s being terrifically unkind to Buddy Ebsen and company, for there was a kindness and sincerity at the heart of that show despite it’s cliches that is to be found nowhere in The Learning Channel’s supercharged ratings vehicle)
The dumb Southerner has been a stock Hollywood character since there was a Hollywood. It doesn’t profit the moguls of entertainment to portray Southerners accurately, as a literary people, a fiercely independent people, a moral people with as much depth of character and intellect as humor, kindness and hospitality. What does it say about Hollywood and its appetite for denigrating the South again and again when it continually fails fully to recognize or attempt even to repeat the formula of one the most massive hits in entertainment history, the success of the one show that did portray the region, with all its foibles and charm, in The Andy Griffith Show?
Sadly, for too many networks, “dumb” sells. Feeding audiences the lowest-common-denominator sells, and it sells a lot, thank you very much. For that’s precisely what Honey Boo Boo is – the lowest-common denominator, a spectacle of unabashed exploitation at every turn, from a family exploiting a child (a young white girl who acts like a sassy black woman…ratings gold!) to a network exploiting the worst of child pageant industry at the expense of an undereducated, economically disadvantaged family, and all to feed a nation’s prejudice against Southerners at a time when, it bears noting, the South is a model region in terms of economic development, growth, quality of life and sporting success to the great chagrin of dust and rust belts nationwide.
Think the anti-South appetite isn’t as strong, if not stronger, than ever? Check this out from the huffingtonpost.com about the show’s ratings back on Sept. 10:
“Bill Clinton’s Democratic National Convention speech might have had both fans and foes cheering, but that still wasn’t enough to beat “Honey Boo Boo.”
The ratings for the Wednesday episode of “Honey Boo Boo” matched that of CNN’s coverage of the DNC in the key 18-49 demographic, on the night where Clinton was the shining star, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The show took in 2.4 million viewers, a 20 percent drop from the previous week, but still boasted a big pull. THRreports:
Honey Boo Boo tied CNN’s coverage of the Democratic National Convention — including a speech from President Bill Clinton — and syndicated Big Bang Theory encores among 18-49-ers on cable … (Aggregate coverage of the DNC clearly eclipsed Honey Boo Boo by all measurements, and DNC ratings reflect the entire 10 p.m. hour, with Honey Boo Boo only airing from 10 to 10: 30 p.m.)
Clinton’s speech ratings not only tied with “Honey Boo Boo,” but also with the National Football League season-opener game on NBC, Entertainment Weekly reported. In terms of millions of individuals viewers, Clinton scored 20.6 million while the Giants versus the Cowboys took in 20.5 million viewers.
Last week, TLC’s newest reality series saw its biggest ratings, scoring almost 3 million viewers. “Honey Boo Boo” bested the Republican National Convention among adults 18-49, garnering a 1.3 rating, THR previously reported.
Unlike Jersey Shore, which exploits that part of the world’s Guido culture while at the same time celebrating it, Here Comes Honey Boo Boo offers nothing to celebrate, nothing to encourage, nothing to enlighten beyond giving those who believe the South is full of nothing but overweight, uneducated dopes heaping helpings of it, with no concern given nor responsibility taken for the long-term future of the exploited child and family who, for their 15 minutes of fame, sadly provide it for a nation that really ought to be ashamed of itself for tuning in.
It’s enough to make Andy Griffith roll over in his grave.