Say what you will about the kiddie pageant industry, TLC’s jaw-dropper reality hit Toddlers & Tiaras has still produced some of the most amusing tots on TV — few more so than 6-year-old rural Georgia resident Alana Thompson, a highly quotable, Kewpie-faced cutup who famously renamed herself Honey Boo Boo Child in one of the show’s most talked about episodes.
Thompson’s antics — combined with the plain-spoken parenting style of her mother June Shannon — made her an overnight YouTube sensation. And now Honey Boo Boo’s coming back to TV in her own TLC docuseries, Here Comes Honey Boo Boo. The show will follow the daily lives of the rambunctious tot turned pageant queen, her mom June, dad “Sugar Bear,” and sisters Lauryn (“Pumpkin”), Jessica (“Chubbs”) and Anna (“Chickadee”), a 17-year-old expectant mom.
Though Shannon suffered enormous backlash for fueling Alana up pre-pageant with “Go-Go Juice,” a homemade concoction of Mountain Dew and Red Bull, her unabashed delight in the girl’s fourth-place finish — amid a sea of mothers demanding only top titles — was endearing. And that, says Shannon, is the familial devotion at the heart of Honey Boo Boo.
“When we go on the media, there’s going to be people who love Alana and there’s going to be people who don’t agree with what Alana is doing,” Shannon explains. “We respect both sides, but I just wanted to make it clear to everybody we are a wholesome family. We are a family that sticks together and I think that once the show premieres America will see that.”
Over the course of the series, Shannon says, viewers will see the entire gang bonding over their favorite activities, including riding four-wheelers through the mud (mud-boggin’ to those in the know), cooking out with pals, helping Alana with her pageant pursuits and supporting Chickadee as she awaits her baby. “We spend all our time together,” Shannon explains. “And we like to have fun. We’re crazy and we don’t fit the mold of the typical family, but we also know when to be serious, too.”
Shannon says that she and Sugar Bear suspected Alana’s Tiaras time might (and did) lead to other appearances when clips from the show went viral, but they never dreamed of a show of their own. “We knew from the first episodes of Toddlers & Tiaras that she was recognized immediately, so we kind of figured [something would come of it],” she explains. “But I never thought that we would be this big, just off of one little show.”
So when TLC offered her baby a show that would allow Alana to stay home and be her own over-the-top self in the midst of her lively family, Shannon, Sugar and their clan talked it over, then jumped at the chance. “She’s very outgoing all of the time,” Shannon says of the little blond dynamo at the center of the action. “And we allow her to be who she is and bring out her personality and she just has fun with it. And that’s what it’s all about. Because if you’re not having fun with it, then it’s not even worth the time. So as long as she’s having fun with it, then we will continue on this ride.”
That includes the pageant portion of Alana’s life. “She just likes the whole experience,” Shannon says. “She likes the hair, the makeup, the teeth, the tan, the dresses, the outfits. She just likes performing on stage. She’s not a typical pageant kid. We don’t compete every weekend.”
So the cut-offs, cowboy kicks and straw hat that Alana rocked (and rolled on the ground in) on Tiaras has been handed down to another aspiring pageant queen. “She hasn’t worn the Daisy Duke but twice,” says Shannon. “That outfit has gone on to another home.”
And it’s not the only part of Alana’s infamous pageant performance that is no more. While her firecracker personality and way with a one-liner will still be very much on display in Here’s Comes Honey Boo Boo, the Go-Go Juice has gone-gone away (“That was a one-time-only thing,” Shannon says) and she is relishing being a normal little kid — albeit one with a camera crew hanging out at home. While I spoke with her mom and the TV folks took a lunch break, the star of the show had a nap.
“I look at Alana as a 6-year-old child, bottom line,” Shannon says. “I don’t look at her as a celebrity. I guess this is kind of like a dream to me — like I’m going to wake up and it’s not going to be for real. But we’re having fun. And when Alana says it’s not fun anymore, then we don’t do it anymore.”
Here Comes Honey Boo Boo airs Wednesdays at 10/9CT on TLC beginning Aug. 8
Photos and video: TLC Photo credit: Chris Fraticelli