Forgive me pop culture father, for I have sinned. Mortally.
I DVR and watch “Toddlers and Tiaras.” I realize that this probably puts me on some sort of creepazoid list.
“T&T” hits a few of my guilty pleasure sweet spots, however: children behaving badly (for some reason whenever I’m out and hear a child throwing a tantrum, I am filled with the desire to go see what the kid looks like. It’s like wanting to see if the person who cut you off in traffic looks as dumb as they are) and grown women behaving badly (hence why I also like “Bridezillas.”)
Most often it’s the mothers who behave badly on “T&T,” or at least are the reason why their children do so. MacKenzie is one of the breakout stars of “T&T” because of her strange blend of brattiness and odd maturity, but if you watch the show regularly, her terrible behavior is obviously a result of her indulgent, somewhat spineless mother. Other times the mothers are clearly trying to live their glory days through their reluctant children, which is truly unfortunate. One sad episode involved a mother whispering ominously in her daughter’s ear that she was embarrassing the family on television, which is a strange case of breaking down the fourth reality TV wall.
But more frequently than you’d imagine, the girls on “T&T” love pageants of their own accord, which lets me relax and enjoy the weirdness (to me, anyway: no one I ever met in the Chicagoland area ever participated in pageants) of little ones getting fake teeth and fake tans and fake hair and fake eyelashes and thousand-dollar dresses guilt-free.
I DVR and watch “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo.” Alana “Honey Boo Boo” Thompson was a “T&T” breakout, one much more enjoyable and lovable than some of her counterparts. She wasn’t bratty like MacKenzie, and she didn’t have that faraway, plasticky sheen of Eden Wood, who had her own television show on Logo which came nowhere close to being the sensation Alana’s is, probably because Eden's a little too perfect and professionally established (I.E. boring.)
I liked Alana for being a little left of center in the pageant world physically (I have never seen another kid on the show squishing her belly) but mostly for being incredibly entertaining while still being a kid. She didn’t build her TV rep on being a snot like MacKenzie, but she still seemed like a full-time kid, unlike Eden.
Alana’s funny and loud and weird, the way a six-year-old should be. (Incidentally, Alana and her mom got a lot of flak for her “go-go juice,” a mix of Mountain Dew and Red Bull. This is gross and unwholesome but, and I can’t believe I’m defending this, totally normal in the “T&T” universe where kids are regularly plied with caffeine and sugar to keep them engaged throughout the long days.)
I hope my kid becomes a Honey Boo Boo when he’s six. OKAY, I don’t really hope that happens in a lot of ways.
I hope he doesn’t have women in his family who have babies at 17. I hope he and his family don’t have an undeniable record of weight problems. I hope his parents are married to each other. I hope he doesn’t have a train running through his backyard and that his parents’ living room isn’t filled with La-Z-Boys and that cheese puffs aren’t a regular part of his diet.
But I do hope that he’s a funny, weird kid who believes in Santa Claus and that Elvis is one of his toy-making helpers. I hope he can entertain himself with his imagination and silliness. I wouldn’t mind if he’s an outgoing confident ham. And I especially hope that he loves being a kid, because while it’s undeniably weird that Honey Boo Boo’s living her life on TV, at least it’s a kid’s life.
When she’s not in pageants, she’s having fun in the pool or jumping in mud or going on dates with her dad or selling lemonade or playing with her sisters or putting makeup on her mom. Which is why I don’t feel bad for Alana or the “Honey Boo Boo” family: they may be couponing and eating ketchup and butter on noodles out of Country Crock containers, but they’re being themselves, and they seem like they’re having a really good time doing it. And that’s not a bad thing to hope for your kid.