TV's newest child star, Alana Thompson, aka Honey Boo Boo Child, has drawn plenty of attention within the first five weeks of her show, "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo," airing on TLC. T-shirts have been made, ringtones can be purchased and talk of dressing up as Boo Boo for Halloween has already started.
Alana, who just turned 7, made her first national appearance on another TLC hit show, "Toddlers & Tiaras," where producers apparently found something they liked. The new show takes place in Boo Boo's hometown of McIntyre, Ga., with her mom, dad and three older sisters: Pumpkin, 12; Chubbs, 15; and 18-year-old Chickadee, who recently gave birth.
The Thompson family is now subject to any and all ridicule of their normal life. Reaction to the show has questioned whether it's appropriate to laugh at "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" and whether anyone has stopped to think how this might affect Alana.
"I don't think it's going to end well with this little girl," Belkin said. "And that's why I can't watch it. It's upsetting to watch and think that she didn't sign on for this. She doesn't know what the future is with this being her reputation through life. So yeah, I think it's exploitive."
Belkin went on to mention the parenting problems spotlighted by the show: "I would like to see less bad parenting on television as entertainment," she explained. "With more and more reality shows, there's more and more bad parenting. And it shouldn't be fun to watch. I'm not quite sure how we got there."
Although a young child is the star of the show, some have questioned whether parents should allow their own children to watch.
"There are more appropriate ways for a six-year-old, and preschoolers, to be spending their time than parading around on television looking for 15 minutes of fame," Cindi Rose wrote on the Examiner.
Critic Hank Stuever from the Washington Post described the show as "a working-class family amps up its drawling, strutting nature for the camera’s benefit.
"You’ll blow a gasket if you watch this show with any trace of superiority or outrage. Instead, bafflement is a good resting spot; a guilty-pleasure glee works even better."
Tim Goodman of the Hollywood Reporter, however, wrote that "at some point, awful is just awful instead of entertaining. And isn't it about time TLC was held accountable for making the world a worse place?"
Huffington Post blogger Jen M.L. also called out TLC: "Just when I thought TLC couldn't sink any lower, they have shown us that they can."
Nutritionists have joined the club with concerns about the family's diet. It has become well-known that Boo Boo drinks a mixture of Mountain Dew and Red Bull, something they call her "Go-Go-Juice," before she begins each pageant.
So are people even watching this show? Yes. In fact, "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" came close to 3 million viewers last week, beating out the Republican National Convention in the 18-49 demographic.
But will it last? Or should it? You may have to watch an episode for yourself, Kristin Dos Santos wrote at EOnline, in order to decide. Only then can you answer the poll online at People: "I'm a fan" or "I'm horrified."
"Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" airs on Wednesday nights on TLC.
Sarah Sanders Petersen is an intern for Deseret News where she writes for Mormon Times and other feature articles. She attends Brigham Young University and is studying Communications.