THE SHOW "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo"
WHEN|WHERE Wednesday at 9 p.m. on TLC
WHAT IT'S ABOUT "Hog jowl, HOG JOWL!" June "Mama" Shannon's voice bellows throughout the quiet hamlet of McIntyre, Ga., as word arrives at the Shannon house that roadkill has been located and -- hot damn -- it's wild pig. Get out them carvin' knives, girls: It's homemade pork and beans for the next year. Meanwhile, Mama June has gone and took 'way the cellphones of Pumpkin, Chicadee, Chubbs and Boo Boo, and there will be hot "hale" to pay. It's also Mike "Sugar Bear" Thompson's birthday: Bear wants nothin' but a little cuddle time with Mama, if ya know what I mean. (Will he git it?) Did I mention the "cup of flatulence" yet? No, well then smell it for yourself.
MY SAY TLC claims to have distributed 10 million "watch and sniff" cards to an unsuspecting public via People magazine for Wednesday's major Odorama event; two of them went to me, and I'm happy to report that not one of the six designated smells was offensive, even though the possibilities for olfactory assault are almost endless. Instead, I picked up the vaguest hints of rubber, bacon, baby powder and chocolate. There were also indeterminate smells, and TLC is obviously relying on the human imagination to complete the sensation (The onscreen numbers that will correspond to each smell were not on critics' copies, to "preserve the surprise," per TLC.)
So, a failure? Not at all. A direct homage, to John Waters, who might even appreciate the gesture if he knew what a "Honey Boo Boo" was. Audiences who attended his 1981 farce (for want of a better word) "Polyester" also got a smell card -- and doubtless some of those smells corresponded to Divine, Waters' favorite star, who died in 1988 and directly anticipated a TV culture that would one day esteem Mama June and her porcine brood. In fact, "Boo Boo" is critic-proof. Call it vulgar, call it schlock, call it a cup of flatulence, call it whatever you like. But John Waters called it first: America loves its trash culture, smells and all.