I watched “Here Comes Honey BooBoo” last night. If you don’t know who Honey BooBoo is, well, she is quite famous from her appearances as the wildly energetic and outrageous contestant on “Toddlers & Tiaras”. She and her Mom have been on Dr. Drew and Anderson Cooper’s daytime talk show to talk about the good, the bad and the ugly side of children’s pageants, particularly regarding Honey’s – her real name is Alana – habit of drinking go-go juice and ingesting enormous amounts of pixie sticks, both of which are laden with sugar and meant to keep up her level of hyper activity.
Now that she has her own spinoff, we’ve met Honey’s entire family. There’s Mama, Dad, known as Sugar Bear and the girl’s three older sisters, Pumpkin, Chickadee and Chubbette. They have real names, too, but I couldn’t keep track of them. I also had a bit of a problem understanding their accents, so I was glad that TLC provided subtitles for some of their conversations. I’ve lived in the South for a few years now, and I’ve been told that I have a Yankee accent and talk too fast, so I guess it goes both ways – some things are lost in translation.
There have been a few programs featuring rednecks as of late. Aside from Honey BooBoo’s show, I’ve also seen “My Big Redneck Wedding” and “My Big Redneck Vacation”. I have to admit, they make me laugh – not at them but with them. They are what they are and don’t make any excuses for the way they live, speak, play or work. They don’t have to because they’re not doing anything but making their way in the world without hurting anyone else on their journeys. If anything, they serve as the perfect foils for those very classy, high society ladies we watch every week on Bravo’s Real Housewives. That’s how I watched Honey BooBoo and her family – just to compare their reality and the stark contrast of what Bravo tries to pass off as reality.
We watch the Housewives attend a lot of parties, lunches and dinners, all of which begin or end in someone or several someones getting drunk and starting some ridiculous argument because they were offended, or holding a grudge about offenses with a shelf life of forever. Sugar Bear brought home dinner for his family, a deer found at the side of the road. They named the deceased animal Darlene, then sat down to eat. None of them cared about how good any particular wine was, in fact, they just seemed happy to have a meal, together, as a family. Sugar bear works seven days a week to provide for his family. Mama is an extreme couponer, who makes weekly trips to an auction to bid on cases of food with questionable expiration dates. When the children act out, Mama reels them back in and they listen to her. Sugar Bear brought home a teacup pig, Glitzy, as a pet for Honey BooBoo. The family set up a pack and play for the little one, and Honey was as happy as Lisa is with Giggy or Adrienne is with Jackpot. Glitzy was even treated to a pedicure, complete with polish, and adorned with one of Honey’s pageant crowns.
The family also goes to outings together. Last night they went to the Redneck Olympics, annual events held in many locales in the South. There is one held here in Aiken every year and it brings out quite a crowd. The events include things like bobbing for pigs’ feet, belly flopping into mudpits and competitions for the largest beer belly. Thankfully, Speedos are not the attire of choice, but it can make for some not so clean fun. It may not be as glamorous as a dinner at Le Cirque, but, on a happier note, Aviva, LuAnn and Ramona will never make an appearance, either. There have been times when some disagreements have occurred, but they’re quickly resolved, sometimes with fists, but they always end with a handshake. No one is going home still angry about the issue. It’s over and it’s all good. I can’t say that I’ve ever heard anyone call someone a c&%#, or anything even close, particularly from a man about a woman, and certainly never around children. I’m still getting used to being greeted by perfect strangers who tip their heads and call you Ma’am when they pass you on the street.
It’s easy to make fun of rednecks, to pass judgment and think we have them all figured out based on how they look or speak. That type of preconceived notion is a two-way street, as some Southerners also have their own ideas about people from the North, so it’s been a learning experience for me, too. Tolerance and a healthy sense of humor have gone a long way in bridging the gap between my roots and my new life. I’ve been watching the Housewives and their significant others for a few years now. They live in beautiful homes, whether they can afford them or not. They have designer clothes and shoes. Botox, breast enhancements and spa treatments are the norm. They’re beautiful to look at but very ugly when they speak. More often than not, they are living lifestyles that aren’t really real. We know it and we discuss them all the time. We also agree, for the most part, that we don’t envy what they have, how they spend their time or who they call their friends. I don’t envy the people who appear on any of the redneck reality shows either, but I do know that they’re not faking anything. From what I’ve seen, they love and like each other, too. If forced to choose, and having experienced life on both sides of the Mason-Dixon line, I think my decision of which group I’d prefer to be around would be an easy one. Mama and Sugar Bear will never be doing a step and repeat at a red carpet event, but they’re doing just fine. They’re a real family, flaws and all.