At least we now know the limits of what’s tolerable on reality TV now that TLC has canceled “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” after it came to light that Mama June was consorting with a convicted child molester.
The man -- Mark Anthony McDaniel -- was convicted in Georgia in 2004 of aggravated child molestation. And it is also being suggested that his victim may have been one of Mama June Thompson’s daughters -- although reportedly not Alana, aka Honey Boo Boo.
TLC quickly severed its ties with Honey Boo Boo and her family last week seemingly within hours after the news broke on TMZ.com that June was possibly dating this guy.
It was a very unusual cancellation -- among other reasons, because the entire new season had apparently been filmed and was ready to go. Perhaps this guy McDaniel is actually in the episodes, which would make for a pretty good reason not to air them.
However, TLC isn’t saying whether or not he was a participant in the episodes. The only peep from TLC was this official statement: “TLC has cancelled the series HERE COMES HONEY BOO BOO and ended all activities around the series, effective immediately. Supporting the health and welfare of these remarkable children is our only priority. TLC is faithfully committed to the children’s ongoing comfort and well-being.”
The statement raises (but does not answer) the question of how canceling the show supports the “health and welfare” of Alana and her siblings or demonstrates TLC’s commitment “to the children’s ongoing comfort and well-being.” Perhaps TLC has set up some kind of counseling or after-care for this family. TLC’s statement doesn’t indicate anything like that, however. Instead, the statement makes it look more like TLC is just washing its corporate hands of this Thompson family and that’s it.
And so “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” is over, cancelled before its time, for one of the most unusual reasons in the annals of TV-show cancellations. It lasted about two years, from August 2012 to August 2014 -- four seasons comprising a total of 52 episodes.
For a time, it was the most talked-about show on television, particularly in the summer of 2012 when it launched its first season after being spun off from TLC’s icky kiddie-pageant series “Toddlers & Tiara.”
Back then, Honey Boo Boo was a pop culture phenomenon -- the talk of talk shows and a guest on some of them. For example, who can forget her crucial endorsement of President Obama in his bid to be re-elected when she appeared on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” in October 2012? In addition to endorsing the president, Alana, then 7, spent the bulk of her segment with Kimmel ignoring his questions, fidgeting and staring into space. At one point, while mom June looked on, Alana plunged her hand into Kimmel’s water glass for no apparent reason. She also told Kimmel she had never heard of Mitt Romney -- a blow to the Romney campaign from which it never recovered.
The sordid way that “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” has ended is sad, particularly if June really is carrying on with a man who should not be anywhere near her family. Before this, the only story I can recall in which someone close to the Thompson family had a run-in with the law was the arrest in Georgia in November 2012 of Tony Lindsay, described alternately as a “cousin” or just a “family friend.”
He was charged with reckless behavior for an incident in which he donned a gorilla suit and then pretended to leap into oncoming traffic, jarring motorists and nearly causing a series of accidents. A few months later, June herself banned “cousin” Tony from the show. “TV’s changed that family,” cousin Tony said at the time.
Perhaps TV did change the Thompsons. In the end, the one I feel sorry for is Honey Boo Boo. She didn’t do anything, but due to circumstances beyond her control, she has lost her TV show -- which means that for now, Alana “Honey Boo Boo” Thompson is washed up as a TV star at age 9.