As the newest member of the Mommyish staff, I agreed to take one for the team and subject myself to the latest reality TV trainwreck that is Here Comes Honey Boo Boo. I assumed that after watching this show I was going to need to take some very long scalding water showers or pour bleach in my eyes but to be honest with you, I’ve seen a lot of worse reality TV. For those of you unfamiliar with Honey Boo Boo and her family, you can quick watch this video which will basically tell you everything you need to know about Alana (aka Honey Boo Boo).

The family is comprised of Alana Thompson, a finger-snapping, eye-rolling 6-year-old wannabee pageant queen, her mother June, June’s “baby daddy” Mike (Sugar Bear) , a chalk miner who works all week, and her sisters 12-year-old Pumpkin (Lauryn) 15-year-old Chubbs (Jessica) and 17-year-old pregnant Anna (Chickadee). The family resides in rural Georgia, in a dilapidated tract house with a yard full of brown grass and overgrown weeds. A train passes through next to the house. Their furniture is threadbare and cheap, the beige carpeting stained with “cheezeballs” and who knows what else. Mama June feeds little Alana a horrifying concoction of pixie sticks, Red Bull and Mountain Dew to sustain Honey Boo Boo’s energy levels through pageant performances. She buys day old “fat cakes” at a local auction, participates in extreme couponing which she declares is “better than sex” and pauses during episode two to tell the interviewer “Hold on, I gotta scratch my bugs.” They participate in a local “Redneck festival” where they bob for pig’s feet, pass gas at almost every opportunity, and the program runs with subtitles in English because at times it’s difficult to understand their mush-mouthed dialect. The Thompson family is trashy.

I was prepared for some good old fashioned moral outrage upon viewing this show, but other than the child beauty pageants I found myself thinking that these people don’t seem that bad. They are loud, they laugh almost constantly, the girls all seem to mind Mama June and there are some very sweet moments in the show:  Alana declaring that if her new pet teacup pig is gay then “‘It can if it wants to. You can’t tell that pig what to do,” June stating she is proud of pregnant 17-year-old Chickadee finishing school because she herself had two babies by the time she was 17 and only received her GED, June kissing Alana’s crestfallen face after she loses yet another pageant.

It’s a stark contrast to the wealth and shallowness of the Kardashians or The Housewives. Even though I can’t fully relate to the Thompson family, or June Thompson and her goal to one day have Alana be Miss America, I don’t hate these people. It’s as contrived as any other reality show, and yes, I found myself wanting to walk into their living room with a ton of cleaning products and a new life plan for Honey Boo Boo that involves her one day going to law school instead of perfecting her finger snapping head swivel, but I can’t help but sort of root for them.

There is a lot to be judge-y about the Thompson family. You could dump a whole lot of fat-shaming, slut-shaming, “white trash” shaming, poor shaming on them. And I’m sure some people will. But at the end of the day they are just a family, who seems to care a whole lot about each other and are enjoying the life they have made for themselves. And there’s no shame in that.

(Photo: The TLC channel)