“Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” was an American reality TV series that aired on the TLC network between 2012 and 2014. It was a candid portrayal of the family of child beauty pageant star Alana Thompson, AKA Honey Boo Boo. The show focuses mainly on Alana and her mother, June Shannon, as they go about their lives at home in McIntyre, Georgia. “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” (HBB) garnered mixed reviews, most of them bad and criticizing a show, which was perceived as championing exploitation. Entertainment website the A.V. Club called it “a horror story posing as a reality television program” while TV guide “Cheers & Jeers” said, “Alana Thompson and her family have lowered the TV bar to new depths.”
In addition to the critics’ slamming of the show, the viewing figures were less than auspicious, although the show began life with a positive 2.2 million viewers. It came with a secondary criticism from residents of McIntyre, some saying it exploits and mocks small-town communities and perpetuates offensive stereotypes of life in the South, according to the Daily Mail. And there is some truth behind that claim since TLC is accused by Forbes magazine of making something out of nothing. While the family is portrayed as “a horde of lice-picking, lard-eating, nose-thumbing hooligans south of the Mason-Dixon line,” it’s all hype, according to Forbes.
15. That Picture
In October 2014, TLC pulled the plug on the 4th season of “HBB” after it emerged that Alana’s mother, June Shannon, was in a relationship with a convicted pedophile. The couple were seen together house hunting in Georgia and were joined by Shannon’s daughter, Lauryn ‘Pumpkin’ Shannon, and Mark McDaniel’s son. It all looked to be a cozy family outing (although her relationship with McDaniel was then denied by Shannon).
Shannon’s association with McDaniel – a 53-year-old convicted sex offender – was too close for comfort for network TLC who ceased production and refused to air the 5th Season, despite it being ready to go. Although Shannon and daughter Lauryn denied reports of a link, TLC felt it was reason enough to stop airing the program. Commenting on the future of the show at the time, a spokesperson for TLC said, “We are currently reassessing the reports, but we do not currently have ‘Here Comes Honey Boo Boo’ in production.”
14. Hard Times
Following the swift cancellation of “HBB,” June Shannon AKA Mama June began making appearances at strip clubs to earn a little extra cash. Back in May 2015, British newspaper The Mirror reported that Shannon had been seen dancing with female strippers at the Crazy Horse Gentleman’s Club in Pompano Beach, Florida. According to reports, Boo Boo’s mother made an estimated $5,500 dollars from her cameo “performance.”
After Vivid Entertainment president Steven Hirsch got wind of the cancellation of “HBB,” he approached Shannon and former live-in buddy Mike “Sugar Bear” Thompson about appearing in a BBW adult movie. The money on the table was a cool $1 million, but Shannon’s reaction was surprisingly blunt: “There is no sex tape come out about me and Sugarbear, never [sic]. I have more respect for myself and my kids and my family, so whoever made that lie up and sold it to TMZ, sorry it ain’t happening.” (Not yet anyway).
13. Sugar Bear’s Infidelities
Appearing as participants in the less successful reality show “Marriage Boot Camp: Reality Stars 4,” Shannon and Thompson made interesting viewing. The show is about a group of famous couples trying to fix their relationships with the help of counselors and 1.5 million viewers. The show’s tagline was promising: “Notorious troublemakers work out their partnership issues during extreme relationship therapy. Secrets, lies, fear and betrayal rule the house like never before.”
When it came to Shannon and Thompson, the outcome was less so. During a candid interview, Thompson claimed multiple infidelities, leaving his relationship with Shannon irrevocably broken; the couple split soon afterward, which must have left the show’s hosts, Jim and Elizabeth Carroll, feeling as though they’d wasted their breath. In January of this year, The Mail Online reported that Thompson had married girlfriend Jennifer Lamb.
12. Another Fly In The Ointment
With Shannon threatening a lawsuit in 2015 against the early pull of “HBB” from the network, she was pitting herself against a whole barrage of public opinion. After all, the lawsuit was probably the last straw in the network’s bid to regain some credibility. From the outset, they were battling critical slamming with such broadsides from the Hollywood Reporter as: “You can say no to TLC. And you can say no to Honey Boo Boo Child. Somebody has to.”
And just after Shannon had announced her intention, TLC was hit by another revelation about the sordid goings-on in the Duggar household (“19 Kids and Counting”). It was alleged that one of the stars of the show, father-of-three Josh Duggar, had sexually molested underage girls when he was 14 years old. Pulling this show, too, would definitely not have gone in Shannon’s favor.
Before “HBB” ended, Shannon and Thompson had split, and the former’s choice of new boyfriend lost her the show. However, it was also endangering her relationship with Boo Boo, as Thompson filed for custody arrangements. An article in The Daily Mail in 2015 suggested Thompson was “distraught…and appalled that ex ‘Mama June’ Thompson has allowed her convicted child molester lover near Honey Boo Boo, nine.”
Understandably so, Thompson’s fears of her choice of partner forced him to try to prevent pedophile McDaniel from gaining close access to his daughter. However, it was also reported that Thompson was broke after losing money from the TLC pull and may not be able to afford expensive legal fees. McDaniel, who had allegedly molested Shannon’s daughter, Anna, now 20, when she was much younger had only recently reappeared in Mama June’s life after a ten-year period of absence.
10. Sugar Bear
Despite his protestations about Shannon’s choice of bedfellow, Sugar Bear Thompson was not always the perfect father to Boo Boo. Having gotten hitched to new love Jennifer Lamb recently, he spends virtually no time with his natural daughter, according to Shannon. In an interview with Hollywood Gossip, Shannon said, “Sugar Bear is making his own decisions, and he’s making his own bed, and he’s going to have to answer to his actions later on with Alana!”
We can reasonably imagine that Thompson has his own life to lead, and there’s a sense that Shannon is bitter of his life choice. Admittedly, getting married within a year of their own split – and after so many times trying to get back together – we might feel somewhat aggrieved for the happiness of the other half. But these are vehement allegations. If true, Thompson has decided to make a rod for his own back in terms of his relationship with Alana in later life.
9. New Reality Show
In a further frantic attempt to interest TV executives in her celeb status, Shannon began to pitch a get-fit reality show to the network. In early 2015, Mama June was seen going through a workout routine with physical trainer to the stars Natasha Fett. The Mail Online reported that Shannon had been working through a grueling session in preparation for pitching a new show.
Shannon later appeared in WE tv channel’s “Mama June: From Not to Hot,” which we think is the show she was pitching. The first episode of the series, which aired in February of this year, was titled “Thin-Tervention.” Carrying on from the drama of Sugar Bear’s revelation of his engagement to Lamb, We tv tagged the show, “Mama June is blindsided by Sugar Bear’s shocking engagement. And when a revenge diet fails and a hot date bails, June considers major surgery! The most dramatic total body transformation ever begins…”
8. Body Shame
Yet another candid insight into what The Hollywood Reporter called a “horrifying” show; behind the scenes, Thompson was allegedly body shaming his daughter. In the public eye from an early age, Alana has gained weight substantially as the years went on, and it would seem that after the weight gain, her father was unwilling to offer worthwhile support. In an interview with The Hollywood Gossip this year, the 11-year-old was openly upset by her father’s attitude toward her. Alana said, “He said it wouldn’t hurt for me to lose weight,” — a borderline comment, perhaps levied from a health angle but perhaps not.
Being an absentee father tends to lessen one’s right to voice an opinion, and if, as Alana says, he calls her “every once in a blue moon,” we think it’s hardly fitting that he should be saying things like that. According to Mama June in the same interview, Thompson is “virtually non-existent” from their lives.
2015 was an outing session for most of the cast of “HBB.” Before being spotted twerking the pole at the Crazy Horse Gentleman’s Club, Mama June had been interviewed by Inside Edition and dropped some interesting revelations. After daughter Lauryn Thompson AKA Pumpkin announced she was “attracted to females,” it was her mother’s turn to spill the beans. Mama June said she was “bisexual” and had been “intimate with women [but had] never had a real relationship with one: I played in the minors but never went pro.”
But it wasn’t just the women opening up. We were also reminded that Boo Boo’s uncle, Lee Thompson, is gay and is doing the rounds as an outspoken advocate for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, especially in the southern states. In contrast to the stereotypical homophobic tendencies portrayed in the media, it does rather shine a light on the “HBB” cast being more progressive than we give them the credit for.
6. Booed By Doctors
In an interview for CBS TV show “The Doctors” back in 2015, Mama June was heckled by the studio audience for allowing Boo Boo to gain so much weight. Having been helped along the way by the TV production and given cooking utensils, chef-prepared meals, and a bicycle, there was no discernible difference in Shannon’s daughter’s size. As the interview proceeded and the hosts of the show, Drs. Jennifer Aston and Travis Stork, reminded Mama June of her obligations, the crowd had heard enough and began to jeer.
Mama June was adamant that she had treated the project with due diligence and had gone along with everything the doctors had asked her to do, but Dr. Stork suspected she was merely “saying one thing and doing another.” Shannon has admitted feeding Alana “Go Go Juice” before pageants, which is a mixture of Red Bull and Mountain Dew; she has come under intense criticism for doing so.
5. Mama June As A Child
June Shannon herself was an obese child. Born in McIntyre, Georgia in 1979, her parents Sandra and Melvin Shannon divorced when she was just two. At 15, she dropped out of high school when she fell pregnant with first child Anna. Anna has two children, but when she was younger, she was allegedly sexually assaulted by Shannon’s boyfriend, Mark McDaniel. In 2008, Mama June was arrested on a charge relating to a fraudulent claim for child support expenses.
“HBB” has its fans, without a doubt. At its height, it was attracting 3 million viewers an episode, which is no small feat. And environmental website Mother Nature Network has praised Shannon for her “keen business sense” referring to her $80 a week coupon clipping and “playing bingo, exploiting roadkill, and acquiring child-support checks from each of her four children’s fathers,” — although how this last point relates to the 2008 charges is anybody’s guess!
4. Alana Thompson AKA Honey Boo Boo
First appearing on US show “Toddlers & Tiaras” at the age of six, Alana Thompson (Honey Boo Boo) was set for a bright future. Thompson won over audiences in the first TLC reality show, which looked to understand the lives of the children at beauty pageants and the mindset of their parents. Getting her own spinoff thereafter must surely have been the Holy Grail for Thompson and her mother June Shannon, but the show was not to make it past two years of production.
With Shannon being heavily criticized for the diet of the young girl, who is now 11, and her private life coming into moral conflict with the show’s producers, “HBB” ran its course, leaving Alana at a bit of a loss. For the past three years, Honey Boo Boo has kept a low profile, and the future is uncertain. However, seen at a premier of Marriage Boot Camp two years ago, she already seemed a lot more “down to earth.” Perhaps her mother’s influence is waning.
3. Mama June’s Weight Loss
“Mama June: From Not to Hot” documented Shannon’s own weight-loss journey, which took place as her marriage to Sugar Bear approached. The 37-year-old underwent a series of painful surgical procedures including a gastric sleeve, a tummy tuck, and skin removal but also endured this in tandem with being put through her paces by personal trainer Kenya Crooks.
The results were dramatic and a credit to her perseverance, at least in terms of the physical exercise. But The Sun reported earlier this year that the star had quit her journey after further skin removal procedures left her “looking like Frankenstein.” In one of the last episodes of the transformation program, Shannon hides from cameras as the scars from her latest operation are inspected.
2. Beauty Pageants
A child beauty pageant is a beauty competition for children under 16 years old. Along similar lines to something like Miss World or the prom beauty queen, its origins are to be found in the Atlantic City of the 1920s. The Little Miss America pageant, which evolved from this, was first held in the 1960s at Palisades Amusement Park in New Jersey. Originally for 13- to 16-year-olds, the contest quickly redefined itself to include younger children.
Boo Boo’s own presence in pageants is still well known despite her slide from the public arena in recent years. The Mail Online introduced her in 2013 as “a cheeky, chubby, tiara-wearing pageant queen from the Deep South with a pet micro pig called Glitzy.” She even had her own catchphrases, such as “a dollar makes me holla” and “You’d better redneckognise.” And although she hardly won a pageant, it was where her fame began.
1. Family Feud
As if dating a cheating partner, painful surgery, and a career ruined by a pedophile weren’t enough to be going on with, Anna Cardwell — Mama June’s oldest daughter — is also suing her. Cardwell asserts that Shannon withheld her share of the $22,500 she earned for her part in the “HBB” production and also claimed that royalties from spinoff sales were not paid to her. TLC is also indicated in the suit since they should have been more careful with the payment process, according to the suit.
Shannon has responded with defiance, insisting that TLC paid each of the children directly. She also made the point that she had given Anna extra money when she asked. Anna doesn’t buy it. “Mama’s name is on every single account [as] the head owner of the account,” she told a Hollywood Take journalist, “so she can withdraw, take money out, give money — she can do any of that. I’m at the bottom ’cause I signed it when I was a minor.”