Additional episodes of reality hit include holiday specials

Cable’s rural reality crop continues to grow as TLC orders aditional episodes of summer sensation “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo.”

Fresh season-one episodes will include holiday specials for Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Skein has averaged 2.3 million viewers since its August debut.

“Honey Boo Boo” launched on TLC after a clip of young Alana from the cabler’s “Toddlers and Tiaras” series went viral online, amassing over 5 million YouTube hits. Show centers around the oddball lives of aspiring pageant queen Alana Thompson and her self-affirmed “redneck” family in Georgia. Since the “Tiaras” spinoff’s bow, the quirky series has become part of pop culture discourse, with numerous major news outlets discussing the show’s content and whether or not it’s inherently exploitive.

First half of the show’s freshman season ends tonight with a special one-hour episode.

It isn’t just “Honey Boo Boo” that’s sporting a less “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills,” more “Beverly Hillbillies” aesthetic. A surge in light-hearted “redneck” programming continues to strengthen and marks a considerable evolution viewers’ tastes over the last several years. The days of the “Real Housewives” franchise and other ostentatious programming are still upon us, the new contenders in the marketplace are reality skeins flaunting the hilariously uncouth like Animal Planet’s “Hillbilly Handfishin’,” History’s “Swamp People,” and Discovery’s “Moonshiners.

“We’ve got a trend with these rural-based shows,” said Robert Thompson, professor and director of Syracuse’s Bleier Center for TV and Popular Culture. “These programs, they aren’t as viscious. When pop culture deals with these so-called ‘rednecks,’ it tens to be goofy and invites laughter.”

Thompson cited the proliferation of laffers in the ’60s and ’70s based in rural environments like “Green Acres,” “The Beverly Hillbillies” and “The Andy Griffith Show.

“It was the rural guys who were the good guys,” said Thompson. “They’re seen as less duplicitous than their ostentatious counterparts.”

A&E’s redneck reality fare “Duck Dynasty” proved to be a success with viewers earlier in the year, pulling 2.6 million viewers during its season-one finale in May. “Duck Dynasty” follows the Robertson family who maintain their redneck roots in spite of earning millions from their biz selling duck calls. Its second season bows next month. And CMT continues its ride the redneck train with “Redneck Rehab,” an unscripted skein featuring families trying to bring their cityslicker relatives back to their redneck roots. Country cabler has also aired unscripted skeins “My Big Redneck Wedding” and “Redneck Island,” reminiscent of CBS’s mainstream hit “Survivor.”

“Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” is produced by Authentic Entertainment for TLC.

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