Photo Credit: Noel Vasquez/Getty Images for Extra
Dr. Drew Pinsky has counseled famous movie stars, rock icons, pro athletes and TV personalities. But he appears to have met his match in Alana Thompson, a.k.a. Honey Boo Boo. Watch below for a preview of his interview with the seven-year-old pageant contestant on his HLN show, Dr. Drew, which airs tonight at 9 p.m. ET.
"Is it difficult to be on TV?" asks Dr. Drew. The Here Comes Honey Boo Boo star, who has been doing several interviews this week with her mother, Mama June Shannon, evades the question by pretending to sleep. Pinsky, clearly unsure how to proceed, tries again. "Is there something exciting you'd like to talk about?" But Thompson is in full avoidance mode, and refuses to open her eyes.
"Alana, come on up, so we can get this done, so we can go," says June, gently grabbing her arm. The little girl pretends to wake, and then explains that in fact, she does not like being on TV "because fans come up to me, and I hate it."
"Yeah, right," says June, and anyone who's seen the show will readily agree with her. This is a child who loves attention. But after sloshing through a dozen interviews in a few days, she is clearly tired. And she's also being asked to entertain TV viewers without the benefit of a healthy diet, or any of the boundaries kids need to help regulate their behavior. Rather than a gentle correction (or an obviously much-needed nap), she gets rewarded for acting out.
In so many words, she even says so herself, in another clip: "People treat me different," she says about school. "Like my friends. Like my principal, she be going to me, and she be like 'Honey Boo Boo.'" You've got to feel for that principal. How do you discipline a TV star who got where she is by behaving like an uncouth brat?
That Mama June exploits her family for fame and fortune is old news. She was recently named one of The 10 Worst TV Role Models of 2012 by the watchdog group, Common Sense Media. But should the culpability here also extend to those who exploit her and her daughter for ratings? Is Dr. Drew -- no stranger to accusations of exploitation himself -- helping to perpetuate this little girl's downward spiral by broadcasting her bratty antics on his show?
It's a complicated question, because people are interested in Alana. Perhaps he sees a teachable moment in her bratty conduct? That's hard to tell from just a few preview clips. Guess we'll have to tune in to find out!