UNSCRIPTED SERIES "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo"
WHEN | WHERE Wednesday at 10 p.m. on TLC. (Repeats of last week's episodes air at 8 and 8:30 p.m.)
REASON TO WATCH You've heard about it. Now can you make yourself watch it? Can you make yourself turn away?
WHAT IT'S ABOUT This spinoff from "Toddlers & Tiaras" focuses on 6-year-old Alana Thompson and her family as they encourage her child beauty-pageant career. After just two weeks on the air, it's already a cable ratings smash.
Nicknamed Honey Boo Boo Child by her 300-pound Mama (real name: June) and her older sisters, our title star is the Georgia family's loudmouthed mimic, rewarded for all the bratty behavior you'd punish in your own kids. She yells instead of talks, and sounds less like a first-grader than a who's-the-daddy guest on "Maury."
Did I mention the names of the other kids? That would be 12-year-old Pumpkin (Lauryn), 15-year-old Chubbs (Jessica) and 17-year-old pregnant Chickadee (Anna). And how about HBB's father, Sugar Bear (Mike), who is not married to Mama but lives with the family. (Each of the three older sisters has different fathers.)
Did I mention the household's pet pig? "I hope Mama don't eat Glitzy," HBB declaims in tonight's 8 p.m. episode. "She eats everything else." No ba-dum-bum music here -- just the plunkin' banjo of yokel music designed to clue us that the producers are in on the joke here.
In fact, they create the jokes here. When the kids sprawl across a "redneck waterslide" -- a backyard tarp with baby oil hosed down -- handy subtitles translate from this family's "foreign" language: "Gawd made dirt, and dirt don't hurt." ("Gawd" spelling from TLC.)
MY SAY Can't tell you about other episodes. Can't -- oops, cain't -- stand to watch 'em. At least TV's previous rural-centric era, the '60s sitcom spate of "The Beverly Hillbillies" and "Green Acres," had a point besides laughing at yokel behavior; it generally seemed those yokels had more honest sense than the "sophisticates" bemused by them.
But common sense is in short supply here. TLC sure isn't interested in it, and neither are the viewers who love to laugh at trashy-folk shows like this.
Please note, I'm not saying this show's subjects are trashy people. Just that TV's take on them is. That's where honesty is in really short supply. The notion that people on these shows are acting "natural" is just nuts. They're performing as caricatures for the cameras, which is fine if that's what adults want to do and adults want to see.
But is this brat-fest really something its child "star" is going to want to watch when she's 26 years old, or even 16? Is Mama feeding HBB's dreams here, or her own?
And the flatulence jokes are funnier on "South Park."
BOTTOM LINE When Mama says "Let's see how much damage we done did," she's talking about the cost of her grocery couponing spree. I'm thinking about her kids.
TRAIN WRECK GRADE B+
QUALITY VIEWING GRADE D-