Redneckognize! Why Honey Boo Boo Captivated Us This Year

TLC's hit reality show Here Comes Honey Boo was a pop culture phenomenon in 2012. Read our reasons for why she's so popular!

Type the word "here" into your Google browser, and it will generate suggestions for what you're looking for. Google's first guess? Here Comes Honey Boo Boo.  So many people have searched for TLC's show about a sassy pageant kid and her family that it was the third most-searched-for TV program in the world for 2012.

Why? Why? Why? Why would hundreds of millions of Internet users across the planet be interested in a pudgy, loud, nose-picking second grader who competes in child beauty pageants because "a dolla" makes her "holla"? What interests people in her mother, Mama June "The Coupon Queen" Shannon, and her usually shirtless, always hapless father, Sugar Bear, who regularly feed her "go go" juice (Red Bull and Mountain Dew) to keep her alert at her cloyingly cutesy pageants?

Make no mistake: This is one unsolved mystery that Dennis Farina himself wouldn't touch. But there are some obvious reasons for the success of Alana "Honey Boo Boo" Thompson -- and a few less obvious ones.

The go-to answer, of course, is that everyone loves a train wreck. That is, somebody else's train wreck. No matter how hard you've been hit by the recession, you're probably not living like that hillbilly family in McIntyre, Ga., where the mom hoards toilet paper she bought on the cheap and the family entertains itself with a backyard hose and a giant sheet, a.k.a. a redneck slip-and-slide.

As for that word, "redneck," thanks to Alana and her family (which also includes sisters Lauryn, Anna and Jessica), we can now say it out loud without being labeled judgmental. Hey, they say "redneck" themselves! On TLC's Here Comes Honey Boo Boo page, you can purchase t-shirts, hats and mugs with the catch phrase, "You Betta Redneckognize." (By the way, remember, you can also say "guido" now thanks to the Jersey Shore gang.)

But there's another aspect of the HCHBB phenomenon, one that doesn't get as much ink. The truth is, Alana and her family wouldn't have gotten this far if they were just hicks making burp and fart jokes. There's also an endearing quality to this family. They are not phased by societal pressures, like staying slim or presenting a perfect (or at least clean) house to a crew of TV camera people. “You like us or you don’t like us,” June once said. “We just don’t care.”

Yes, there are horrifyingly manipulative forces at play inside child beauty pageants. Watching Toddlers and Tiaras (the show from which Honey Boo Boo spun off) is all about judging the misguided stage moms at its core. But on Honey Boo Boo, Mama June doesn't come off like a stage monster. She's a regular mom, and she puts up with Alana even when she's acting out on various national talk shows.

Barbara Walters' decision to include Alana in her list of the year's 10 Most Fascinating People is dubious at best. The kid is seven. But the Honey Boo Boo phenomenon is fascinating in that this clan is both a train wreck and a relatable, familial entity.

But don't let us pass all the judgment! Tell us below why you think Here Comes Honey Boo Boo is so popular?

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