×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Preview: ‘Honey Boo Boo’ Adds New Dimension: Smell-O-Vision

TLC and its trailer-trash superstars cross another stinky, shame-free threshold

It’s a gimmick, of course — and a completely unnecessary one at that — that the premiere of “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” incorporates a “Watch ‘n Sniff” stunt, with a half-dozen nondescript smells available via cards being distributed in conjunction with the July 17 premiere.

Frankly, TLC’s standout series — the “Toddlers & Tiaras” spinoff that noisily crowded its way into the cultural zeitgeist — doesn’t really need the assist to make its mark on TV any more tangible.

As I said when the show premiered (can that really have been only a year ago?), “Honey Boo Boo” is both “disturbingly condescending and almost irresistibly cheeky,” reveling in an “exploitation of deep-fried Southern rubes.” What made the formula pop, ultimately, is how the show managed to unite disparate constituencies — big-city types (including media folk always on the lookout for colorful oddballs) who embraced its reality-version-of-“The Beverly Hillbillies” conceit, and a large Southern contingent able to laugh along with it and probably understand the garbled dialogue without help from subtitles.

One can gripe about the stereotypes associated with the current wave of what might charitably be called Redneck TV, but in a niche cable universe, attracting that very audience has turned out to be winning proposition.

The whole “scratch ‘n sniff” idea is nothing new, as those who endured John Waters’ early-’80s artifact “Polyester” can attest. (If memory serves, the movie lured you in with flower and new-car smells before the really rancid odors landed. We’ll skip spoiling the particulars here.)

So dispensing with that part of the festivities, the new season is really just more of the same, with the clan attending a wrestling match (the only sport that might be more heavily scripted than a “Honey Boo Boo” episode), spending a lot of time talking about farting and planning a birthday for family patriarch Sugar Bear, who is turning 41, and doesn’t look a day over 59.

The one missed opportunity, seemingly, is that these first two half-hours exhibit no evidence the family’s life has changed in any way thanks to its new-found fame. Granted, the producers and TLC might be reluctant to tamper with success, but it strains credibility to act like a sumptuous meal of roadkill (“Roadkill is yummy!” 7-year-old Alana exults) is the best they can do these days, especially after reports of a sizable salary increase. OK, it’s not Charlie Sheen money, but that still buys a lot of hog jowls.

That said, mama June (the real star of the show) still produces some moments and asides that would be difficult to script, from referring to the days of black-and-white TV and no cellphones as “medieval times” to her epic struggles to get into and out of a Go-kart. And yes, you’ll never guess what we’re reminded that “kart” rhymes with.

Despite the show’s underlying themes extolling a family that loves each other and self-acceptance (such as June referring to her ample frame as “voluptuous”), the series sets up its intrepid heroes to be laughed at, not with.

Odds are the clock has already begun ticking on the “Honey Boo Boo” fame meter, but for now, TLC and the Shannon family can each enjoy the ride. And if it doesn’t take much of a cynic to see the possibility of roadkill in the latter’s future, hey, I hear it’s dee-licious.

More TV

  • NCIS Los Angeles and NCIS New

    'NCIS: Los Angeles' and 'NCIS: New Orleans' Renewed at CBS

    CBS has renewed “NCIS: Los Angeles” for an 11th season, and “NCIS: New Orleans” for a sixth season. Both action drama are spinoffs of “NCIS,” which was renewed in early April. “NCIS: Los Angeles” follows a Naval Criminal Investigative Service division based in the City of Angels that is tasked with catching dangerous and elusive [...]

  • BRAZILIAN FLAGFRENCH OPEN TENNIS, PARIS, FRANCE

    Brazil’s Ancine Freezes Incentives, Threatening Film-TV Industry Paralysis

    Brazil’s Ancine agency, its foremost public-sector source of film funding, has frozen all of its incentive programs, potentially near paralyzing new production in Latin America’s biggest film-TV industry. The dramatic decision, which has left Brazil’s industry is a state of shock and intense fear for its future, comes as it has taken further hits. In [...]

  • TV Shows to Watch the Week

    TV Shows to Watch the Week of April 22, 2019: 'Gentleman Jack' and the NFL Draft

    Welcome back to Tune In: our weekly newsletter offering a guide to the best of the week’s TV. Each week, Variety’s TV team combs through the week’s schedule, selecting our picks of what to watch and when/how to watch them. This week, “Gentleman Jack” debuts on HBO, and “Kobra Kai” season two drops on YouTube [...]

  • Steve Golin The Revenant Spotlight Producer

    Steve Golin, Prolific Producer and Founder of Anonymous Content, Dies at 64

    Steve Golin, an Oscar-winning producer who was founder and CEO of Anonymous Content, has died of cancer. He was 64. Golin was a pioneer in blending the business of talent management with production. Anonymous Content, which Golin founded in 1999, worked with a stable of big name artists such as Steven Soderbergh, Emma Stone, Edgar [...]

  • The Iron Throne, which has been

    'Game of Thrones': Six Books for Fans to Read

    As the final season of “Game of Thrones” draws to a close, we’ve found six best-selling books that keep the stories of Westeros and beyond alive. From the original novels that inspired the hit HBO show, to collectible tomes that highlight behind-the-scenes secrets, these books make a great addition to your bookcase, whether you’re a [...]

  • CBS Sports, WNBA Strike TV Deal

    CBS Sports, WNBA Strike TV Deal

    CBS Sports and the WNBA struck a new deal to televise some of the league’s games, widening exposure for professional women’s basketball in the U.S. Under terms of the deal, CBS Sports Network will broadcast 40 live WNBA games in primetime and on weekends, starting Saturday May 25 as the league’s 2019 season gets underway. [...]

  • Robin Roberts Omarosa

    Disney Makes Big Play to Stay in NFL's TV-Football Game

    Robin Roberts is moving this week from mornings on ABC to primetime. And while the shift is temporary, the business machinations behind it are likely to continue. Roberts, best known for her regular appearances on “Good Morning America,” will serve this Thursday as an important presence on one night of ABC’s multi-evening coverage of the [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content