Can We Please Give Honey Boo-Boo - And All Such 'Exploitainment TV' - a Time-Out?

Toddlers AND Tiaras Honey Boo Boo SpinoffIf you are familiar with what I’m about to discuss, you may find it engaging; if you are not, thank your lucky stars. Though I’m loath to pay this topic any lip service, I am moved to say something.

TLC – that’s The Learning Channel – has decided that you want to – nay, need to — learn more about “Honey Boo-Boo Child” aka Alana Thompson, the headline-grabbing star of its shall-not-be-named series about toddlers who wear tiaras (among other overdone accessories) to pageants.

I admittedly know not too much about the aforementioned reality series or the star of its newly greenlit spin-off. But I do know that both fall into the category of what I call “exploitainment TV.”

Because say what you will about the very worst and most disillusioned of American Idol auditioners or the desperate daters who aim to bed Bachelorettes and swing in the Bachelor Pad, they are by and large consenting young adults, people who have the presence of mind and wherewith all to know what they are doing – and, more importantly, what is being done to them. Those goons from the Jersey Shore may have a blood alcohol level of 0.1 when they sign on for each season (and draw double the audience of time slot rival Awake, sigh), but they are of age.

But these tiara-wearing toddlers…. they’re pawns.

If I can offer you but one illumination about “Honey Boo-Boo,” know that this 6-year-old is plied with “Go-Go Juice” — a homemade cocktail of Red Bull and Mountain Dew that packs as much caffeine as two cups of coffee — to blaze through her busy itinerary of preternatural pageantry. In a climate where cupcakes are forbidden at grade-school classroom parties and the mayor of New York City is declaring war on super-sized sodas, Go-Go screams of being a no-no as well as abuse of at least the rugrat’s health.

Yet some people upon hearing the news of the spin-off say, “Abhorrent! But… I’ll probably tune in anyway.” “It’s just a guilty pleasure” and all that. Such enablers reckon that the program and its ilk are in the pipeline to be consumed anyway, and lest you have a Nielsen box your implicit endorsement of its existence doesn’t count one way or the other.

To that I can only trot out this chestnut: If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem. By consuming the empty calories that such programs deliver and sparking even one watercooler session or typing a single tweet about them, you keep them in the pop culture conversation. The very fact that the tiaras show spawned a spin-off says loud and clear: Moms, if your child is involved in some funky stuff that quite possibly does not benefit their psyche in the long run, rush out and get thee an agent. The same way that would-be teen moms are egged on to get pregnant and often, because Hey, it just may turn out to be your lucky day!

(“Advocates” for the latter program will argue that it does not paint a pretty picture of teen pregnancy. The tabloids that put the kids-with-kids on covers and thus reward reckless sexual practices with any semblance of fame poke a hole in that argument the same way anxious young Kaitlyn maybe poked a hole in Brandon’s Trojan.)

I know I am at risk of coming off as elitist in this dissection of the “exploitainment TV” problem – which also folds in the likes of Hoarders or any show that divines entertainment from the lives (OK, usually the problems) of those who may not have the best faculty to sanction it. But tell me: Does it seem right that the same medium that gives us compelling scripted dramas such as Homeland, Game of Thrones and The Good Wife, or quality reality fare like The Amazing Race and Deadliest Catch, also can play host to that which only invites the viewer to point, laugh and shrug, “Hey, at least it’s not my jacked-up six-year-old”?

When well-trained actors are out there giving the performances of their lives, when schooled writers are working through many a night to tell you a good story, when highly skilled dancers and singers are laboring to dazzle us with their innate abilities, why must we so desperately go digging, deep and at times into muck, for other “stars”? Why is a populace that is so quick to carp about the lack of quality TV series (or condemn those that are derivative) just as ready to make a family of pretty sisters far more affluent than any 100 of our education system’s best teachers?

If we don’t at some point enforce some sort of filter and make our disapproval for unrewarding TV known, it’s scary to think how much lower programming executives will allow the bar to go.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

  1. OCrazy says:

    Totally agree with this! Thank God, I don’t watch this crap, and won’t watch the spinoff!!

    • Kim R says:

      I agree as well. TLC has gone so downhill from its original programming! Even What Not to Wear premiered with a live episode that basically felt like a Jerry Springer style make-over of mocking reactions from the audience. I was appalled. Badly done. :(

      • Gretchen says:

        What Not to Wear has been a joke for years. They take people who are comfortably themselves–admittedly, often not fashion plates–and put them in the same conservative, dull clothing and make them feel bad for having had a personality of their own.

        • I feel the same about What not to wear. They want everybody to look exactly the same kind of clothing, completely ignoring the individual personal style. That’s not how Personal Stylists should work. It’s a delicate matter, calling someone tasteless… So not cool how they do it.

          • Darlene says:

            Hey, I think your blog might be having browser compatibility issues. When I look at your blog site in Ie, it looks fine but when opening in Internet Explorer, it has some overlapping. I just wanted to give you a quick heads up! Other then that, awesome blog!

      • kim says:

        clearly they just like them all r in it for the money….. The Learning Channel yeah right what can i possibly learn from that crap

    • Pinky_77 says:

      HEAR, HEAR!!!! Never was a truer word said.
      I also agree WHOLEHEARTEDLY with you, Matt.

    • Kathy says:

      For real cannot handle loud and stupid Buddy the cake boss anymore. Now You are wanting to add the little hick called honey boo boo child? What are You thinking?

      • Kara says:

        I totally agree with you re: Buddy the loud-mouth imbecile.. He is SO GROSS!!! And NOW this disgusting child, mother? and FAMILY as WELL???? WHAT WERE THEY THINKING????
        You mentioned a HOME-MADE DRINK FOR A FAST MOVING BABY???? What about those SUGAR straws I’ve read about??? These are little kids???? These mothers should be put in JAIL!!!! BYE BYE TLC, you just went toooooo far….

    • Jenna Leon says:

      A whole staff at our middle school find Toddlers in tiaras ridiculous, especially “Honey Boo Boo”.
      We don’t find her anywhere as cute as the other little girls, just obnoxious, then again she has a family on TV pulling up their shirts and jiggling their way overweight bellies….disgusting!!!!!!!

  2. Chanell says:

    This was amazing to read and I find it refreshing to hear someone actually say it. I love tv and reality tv but I can’t stand these kid shows because of every reason you said. Way to go Matt. AWESOME!!

    • Tarasa says:


    • lauren says:

      Ditto! MATT, I know your former employer (I don’t know if we can mention them here) used to do a weekly feature on Toddlers and Tiaras or one of these other awful shows, and all I could think was they didn’t cover that kinda of stuff when you and Ausiello were there, did they? As you say, if they’re not part of the solution their part of the problem. So much for informed TV guidance :D

    • Ava says:

      Agreed. I like that we finally have someone speaking up for scripted television and speaking out against child exploitation. I would like to see more quality reality shows (Whale Wars is my current favorite) and less exploitation reality shows.

  3. Amanda says:

    Wow! This is great! Thanks for saying something!

  4. iwakunirose says:

    Matt, I cannot say amen loud enough. Thank you for voicing in such appropriate words what I have felt for years, but never found the words to say. I will link this article to anyone when this subject comes up in conversation, because I’m not sure how to explain it any better.

  5. Amy F. says:

    Well said!! I can’t stand when I hear people say they watch crap like this and then scoff when I suggest quality television. Then again, I live in the south where I’m considered ‘snooty’ because I recycle.

  6. Allie says:

    I want to marry this article and have its babies.

  7. Nichole says:

    AMEN!! Thank you for this, Matt. Very well said. I could not agree more.

  8. TMW says:

    ENOUGH ALREADY. Thanks for articulating this so well.

  9. The sage-like mind of Mike Judge proves that the dumbing down of ‘Murica will lead to such fare as “Ow, My Balls,” which will be coming to ABC in Fall 2014.

  10. Mercedes says:

    A fabulous and well-reasoned article with which I completely agree.

  11. TigerNightmare says:

    In complete agreement. Whoever puts these shows together needs to burn. They need to rid not only our TVs of child pageants, but our entire country. It’s so awful, it’s like an Al Qaeda plot.

    • suzie says:

      America has just witnessed the teen result of the pageant child on American Idol. The 16 year old Jessica Sanchez has been put on stages since the age of 3. Was entered in America’s Got Talent at 11 and just competed on Fox’s singing show. The girl is home schooled and socially awkward and I’m willing to bet will have many problems coping with real life.

      • Noel says:

        Ummm…no. I completely agree w/this article, but what you said is off-base. Was Jessica on other singing shows..yes, but what does that have to with anything. Also, one of my best friends was home schooled, and they are way more outgoing than me (I wasn’t home-schooled).

  12. Marie says:

    Very well said!

  13. Emily says:

    YES !!!!

  14. SVUnCI says:

    While I do like my fair share of show like 30 Rock, P&R, Parenthood and Fringe; I do like to have my trash tv reality shows (Big Brother, Bad Girls Club, Celeb Apprentice). But I do feel that some of these show are doing too much damage than good to the televison landscape (looking at you BBall wives NY, Chicago, Timbuktu or The Real Housewives of the 12 Colonies of Kobol), and that’s where I draw the line.

  15. Gilda says:

    Thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you. This shows are abominations. So many of my friends say “I hate those shows, did you see what happened on that last episode?” I completely agree with your point about if you’re not the solution, you’re the problem, and I never watch these shows.

  16. Kelly says:

    Good for you, Matt! It’s about time a tv journalist speaks the truth honestly and without reservation instead of indulging these crazy people! I feel so bad for those kids — no childhood whatsoever — and I bet in 10 years or so, they’ll be on Intervention or 16 & Pregnant, but we won’t be guessing why! Everyone needs to pass this along and let TLC know how we feel. Is the money really worth it to them when they’re putting these kids wellbeing and future in jeopardy? Sure, these pageants would go on even if TLC wasn’t filming and exploiting them, but at least show some integrity and realize something isn’t right! “If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem”!

    • Beckstle says:

      DITTO! And Bravo again Matt for saying something! The silence on this from TV reviewers has been almost as upsetting as the phenomena itself. It has felt like a basic compliance by the media that this stuff is okay and should be considered TV as usual. Thank you for speaking up and pointing out the truth – this is NOT TV as usual.

  17. Toia says:

    Well said! I feel like I’ve been having some form of this same argument for years now. The only thing that has changes is the “reality” side of the argument has gotten worst and worst. Until more people start to make an effort to reject the “bad” choices we are presented with thing will only continue to get worst.

  18. Pepper says:

    Preach it, Matt! And thank you!

  19. I love this!! I have been having this argument for years.

  20. Jennifer says:

    I couldn’t agree more. I never have and never will watch these shows that exploit children who are unfortunate enough to have parents who allow it. Also, am I the only one who died a little when reading that Jersey Shore got twice the ratings of Awake?

  21. Martha Mitovich Leiss says:

    Couldn’t have said it better Matt! It’s a joke what this kind of crap has become making “stars” and “hits”
    out of total garbage.

    • Linda says:

      Thank you, Matt! I have one question regarding these beauty pageant shows – Where are the child protection agencies? Seriously! I have never watched this show, nor any other reality show (except Dancing with the Stars) and never will. Dumb people and parents exploiting their children just make me angry. This isn’t entertainment. It’s just sick!

      • Kate says:

        It really is a great question not just based on what these people feed their kids (mt. Dew, pixie stix, etc) but what they have them wearing and doing. I mean there is a reason the term prostitot gets thrown around given some dress and dance like they are performing in a strip club rather than a child’s pageant. I mean that alone is child exploitation without putting it on national television.

        • smidnite says:

          According to one article about the upcoming show; this particular child is also fed roadkill.

          • ol cranky says:

            and that’s about the most responsible thing this child’s parents seem to have done in her upbringing

  22. Anna says:

    One word: AMEN!!!!!

  23. Jai says:

    I am so glad that a TV fan like you is speaking out against shows such as “Toddlers and Tiaras.”It’s a tragedy that these parents only see these children as meal tickets, and worse, sex objects.

  24. GeoDiva says:

    Couldn’t agree more! Thanks to TV Line for printing this.

  25. Matt Zmudka says:

    Matt, can you target dance moms next?

    • Troy says:

      This! Horrible show.

    • E says:

      Thought of Dance Moms as well, and the various +8 shows as a I read this. The kids are the pawns in all of these.

      • Cathy says:

        I would guess that many of the kids begged their parents to bring them. But I would agree that some may be pawns with parents who live vicariously through their children. I know that some kids in dance competitions don’t want to be there. My daughter started dance classes at the age of 3. She continued only because she loved it. We got to know some dancers and their moms who went the competitive dance route. I’ve seen a lot of different people and several different teachers. Some would love to be on a reality show but most would not. Some want to go to New York or L.A. Not my child. She is working hard as a member of a small modern dance company in a small community. There are lots of options in dance. But a reality tv show about any kind of competition, whether it’s “beauty”, dance, figure skating or something else, is more about dishing dirt – even fake dirt – up to a voyeuristic society than it is about real life. Until the viewing audience stops tuning into these shows, they’ll keep dishing it up.

    • Matt Webb Mitovich says:

      That show falls into this same category. (I went out of my way not to name too many names, lest those shows enjoy even the slightest SEO benefit.)

      • I totally agree with you about the about Toddlers and Tiaras and this spin off show but I disagree about Dance Moms. The training and talent of the girls in Dance moms is real and Abby Lee has been turning out professional employable dancers for almost 30 years. For crying out loud, this season Chloe got accepted to the Joffery’s summer program. That is huge. The girls are not crazy, nor do their mothers harm them the way these other mothers do. They aren’t starving their girls or giving them complexes about their appearances. All the crazy on Dance moms is the moms. Between the moms and Abby is where most of the conflict is. They keep the girls out of it for the most part. Most of the show doesn’t even have the girls in the same room as the cameras. If you actually watch the show the girls are polite, professional and dedicated performers that shrug off their high strung and bored mother’s interference in their training. As for how harsh Abby is, that is a part of being a national champion level athlete in any sport. Gymnastics is a hundred times worse but similar in training technique. These are NOT after school programs for little girls so they can get to perform in an annual recital. These are elite dancers that can take the skills that Abby teaches them and get scholarships to Ivy league schools (like Abby did, Harvard) or go out and work in a vicious competitive profession. That is hardly the same as starving your daughter, dressing her up like a tiny clown and pushing her out on a stage and teaching her to say “world peace” before she can walk.

        • Cathy says:

          I haven’t watched these shows but I’ve watched crazy dance moms and have seen the kind of pressure some of the kids are under between competitions. Some of the kids can take it and, yes, they are older than toddlers/preschoolers/kindergarteners. Some of the kids who seem to shrug off their high-strung moms have become quite subtle practitioners of the art of bullying other dancers and hide it quite well. The culture of pre-teens and young teenagers keeps the bullied kids from reporting it. Some kids have a strong talent and combine it with a fierce drive to win. Some of them will crash and burn before they are out of their teens or twenties. I am not a fan of competitions but I realize some people work better in that kind of environment. I wish that competitive parents could be more aware of the difference between healthy and destructive competition. I wish their kids had more of a chance to grow into themselves before entering competitions. I wish they had a chance to experience dance as an art form and learn dance theater rather than be taught that dancers are always in competition – “a vicious competitive profession.” It’s not all like that. A good work ethic is important; being a cut-throat competitor is not required.

          • Well, see this is totally a matter of perspective. It depends on what you think dance training is for, a career or character building hobby. If your child wants a career in dance, it does start young, it is viciously competitive and wishing that it wasn’t it that way doesn’t change the facts. I agree about the world of competitive dance being very dangerous as an atmosphere for young dancers. I started dancing at 3 and competing at 7 and danced till I was 15. If your objection to the show is that there is a large amount of pressure and expectations to perform on these girls then you would have to take that up with the universe because the industry dictates that anyone who wants to be a professional dancer has to be dedicated, disciplined and focused on that goal from a relatively young age if they want to have a good chance at success. If your objection to the show is that the crazy mothers pour their own insecurities and desires out on their children pushing them into this career choice then, again, you’d have to take that up with humanity because parents have been doing that to children since the dawn of time. It’s just that the show shines a spotlight on these particular families. If you feel that this show exploits people’s desire to watch and judge people whose parenting is inferior to their own you are dead right but if you watch carefully you’ll notice that most of the “crazy” bad comments they make are either in the observation booth (where the girls can’t hear them) or when they go out to lunch without the girls and any time the adults start fighting the assistant choreographer rushes the girls out of the room. Lifetime is very cleverly trading in on the sensationalist crowd without actually exposing the girls to their mothers acting demented. Acting being the key word. As this show goes on I become more and more convinced that it is increasingly scripted and that those mothers are actually having a grand old time being outrageous. Particularly Abby and Christi.

  26. charissa29 says:

    Maybe these type of programs come from the same people that believe in subsidizing the very substances that are making America obese. We as consumers seem to prefer junk. These type of programs make our lives seem better, as you said “At least it isn’t my jacked up 6-year old.” I occasionally eat a certain flamin’ hot cheese puff substance, which doesn’t appear to have any actual food in it. I know this and I eat it anyway. We accept the lowest common denominator in programming, even when we don’t need to. So thank you for what you said, and let’s try to figure out WHY!

  27. Sue says:

    Thank you Matt for posting this. I dislike reality TV. Is there even such a thing? I only watch a cooking competition show that is heavily edited, like the rest of “reality” TV, and I feel a little dirty about it. Unfortunately this is what America watches based on ratings. This makes me more afraid than the upcoming elections if this is what our country finds worthy. TLC? The Learning Channel? What the heck happened there? I didn’t know they aired this crap? I know some will say just change the channel, but you are right about toddlers being prawns. It’s their parents. But it will continue as long as there are ratings for it. I’ve never seen this show but have seen clips of this kid on entertainment shows and really was taken aback. I want to say borderline child abuse, but….I don’t think its borderline. Give me good quality scripted TV any day of the week over this. Thank you again for posting this.

  28. Kate says:

    I have been having this argument with people since Teen Mom started. Instead of its claimed purpose of showing how difficult teen pregnancy is it showed teens you can make more than your parents do in a year just by getting pregnant and letting someone film you for a few months. Not to mention you will show up on the covers of magazines! Throwing 200k at teenagers creates more problems than it solves. Look at how many headlines you see about those kids with custody issues, domestic abuse, etc. And of course these kids arent just going to give up an easy pay day. Having more babies and behaving badly is what keeps them on the shows. I actually had someone tell me Gary is the best character on tv. He had lost all concept that Gary is a real person living a really screwed up life and MTV is making a profit.

    • tripoli says:

      As much as I do agree with you about Teen Mom, I do think there are some pretty accurate portrayals of how hard it is to be a teen mom. Unfortunately most kids seem to focus on the fame and fortune that might come with it, if they even get on a show like Teen Mom. And I wish there were more teens like Tyler and Caitlin who, despite no support from family, still did what they believed was the best thing, and gave their baby up for adoption. Those 2 really seemed head and shoulders above almost anyone else from those types of shows, and yet they seem to get the least amount of press. Which I guess, in the long run is great. Easier to move on and get back to a real life. Never watched T&T, never will. Don’t see the appeal of watching parents live through their children, whether the kid wants to participate or not.

      • Kate says:

        I don’t watch any of these shows so my info is limited to headlines (& the 2 articles I couldn’t resist reading 1) how much they make a season & 2) whether that girl would be charged for domestic abuse since I was appalled MTV just stood by and filmed it). I think you proved my point about how these shows promote bad behavior. The two kids who took the responsible route faded while the ones who act out are still making headlines and have continued to have shows. I haven’t seen T&T but I would imagine that again they focus on the craziest moms and the most ill behaved children. It seems really sick that there are t.v. executives somewhere getting really excited everytime these people make bad decisions or find new ways to exploit their kids.

        • tripoli says:

          You are very right. As much as I think it’s obvious in a lot of the episodes (I have seen a few) that it is very tough, it’s also so awful and shows these poor girls so beaten down and unsure about everything, while making sure to have some kind of drama to keep it in the headlines. I too was surprised that the group of people filming, producing, directing, etc did nothing. The child was quite young and present and had it been the man beating the woman, I would bet they would have stepped in. I guess they felt putting a brief message at the end of the episode encouraging anyone in need of help/support to call a hot line number, was enough to keep their consciences clean. And I saw recently on TV(didn’t search it out, was on the news) that Amber, the one involved in the domestic battery, who has been in and out of jail and rehab for awhile now, is back in jail for good this time. Apparently she was sentenced to something like 5 years but was given the option to enter drug treatment instead. But she hasn’t been able to stay off the drugs and adhere to the rules set forth so she voluntarily decided to go to jail instead. Crazy! So of course, this is the person who gets tons of attention. I do have a tiny bit of hope that at least a few girls see beyond the fame,fortune, etc and realize that having a child in your teens is not glamorous and lasts well beyond your 15 minutes. A tad naive I suppose, but as this article points out, the world of “reality” tv continues to spiral into an increasingly awful place.

      • ol cranky says:

        I have an idea, if you want to show how difficult a job it is to be a mom do a show about adult single moms trying to budget to be able to take some maternity leave with their newborn and then going back to work and handling that emotional and financial struggle instead of teenagers, many of whom are being supported by their parents. The teens who might have a brain may think twice about avoiding becoming a teen mom if they see how hard it is for an adult who’s actually working & supporting herself and her child/ren (being a responsible parent). I think they’d be able to figure out that their teenaged social lives may be inhibited by pregnancy and having a baby by watching a responsible and mature adult struggle with sleep deprivation/exhaustion, etc.

  29. Erin says:

    Very well said. I couldn’t possibly agree more!

  30. tamtammm says:

    Thank you! This is brilliant, elloquently said, and so very true.

  31. Angela says:

    EXCELLENT article.
    “Idol”, the cooking competition shows, even “Dancing”…that stuff at least has a goal to it. It does deal with a talent of some kind, singing, dancing, cooking, what have you. Some people have emerged from such shows with actual careers and have the talent to back up their time on there. So that stuff makes sense.
    But love as a competition (most of the “relationships” on those bachelor/bachelorette shows fail! Why, oh, WHY do we insist on continuing with that sort of thing?)? A family has 8 kids? A girl stars in a sex tape and she and her sisters suddenly have a show because of…something? These are not talents or skills, these are things anyone can do, and there’s no logical reason why we need a show about them.
    And there is especially no reason for this show about this girl to exist. I heard about it on TV and wanted to scream. If this show about this little girl is a guilty pleasure for someone, that’s messed up and you have a really weird idea of what constitutes pleasure, guilty or otherwise. I sure as hell won’t be watching this show-hopefully someone will wise up and get that little girl away from that madness and let her be a kid instead.

    • Becks says:

      Completely agree! For the most part, I don’t have a problem with competition reality shows. They’re entertaining and do have an end goal. Like you, it’s the others that bother me.

  32. mirleival says:


    I’ve been saying these exact same things for YEARS! Especially when my sister and cousin loved John and Kate… and Jersey Shore. That’s not television! It’s garbage.

    • ol cranky says:

      gosh, I thought Jon & Kate/Paris Hilton/Kartrashians were bad but Jersey Shore?!?! Seriously, it’s a show where people make a lot of money, become famous and end up on red carpets of big hollywood events because they were filmed getting drunk, getting in fights and just being all-around boneheads. The things that used to kill a legitimate career of a talented person who worked hard are now the things that create a career for someone with no skills (unless you consider getting golden showers or drinking until you vomit to be skills). Poor Bob Crane must be spinning in his grave

  33. Katherine says:

    Thank you! Great article, well-written and so true. I hope many people get a chance to read it.

  34. Lais says:

    The same point can be made about drugs, in my opinion. You can fight a war on drugs by trying to stop them from reaching the country, but drug dealers will always come up with a way to bring it in anyway and push it to the people, the best way to win a war on drugs is by not buying drugs and making sure your children do not either. It’s a simple case of demand and offer. In television is the same, they offer crap because they know that people will watch it.

  35. Michelle says:

    Anyone subjected to gross exploitation for entertainment purposes (and yes, TV IS entertainment) is a “pawn” and should be pitied for being taken advantage of by the general public. I can’t express my disgust enough. Shows like this, Hoarders, and any other show that exploits the problems of those that need help/protection are just propogating abuse disguised as “help” or “entertainment” or “educational puroses”.

  36. Ally says:

    AGREED! I tuned in once to that pageant trash show and was so disgusted I quit watching TLC for a while…I also think shows like Dance Moms and about half of the trash on that channel should be banned. I’ve never been much for reality TV in general and can’t figure out how anyone can possibly be excited about the 88th season of Survivor or be excited about the Real Houswives or brats on the Jersey Shore. I feel so ashamed that my country Canada is bringing a Big Brother Canada and Bachelor Canada–I really thought we were above that.

  37. Jenn says:

    Very well said! I rarely watch any reality Tv, it’s all BS if you ask me. But that toddlers and tiaras crap really makes me angry! I just told my kid not 20 mins ago how I can’t even stand to hear about it because I want to slap everyone one of those so-called “parents”!! Bachelor/Bachelorette, just legal prostitution. The singing shows are ok, usually. I still don’t watch them tho. Reality Tv is waaaaayyyy outta control! And, it not really real if it’s scripted anyways!

  38. Sandra Forslund says:

    I LOVE that you commented on this!!! You are so totally correct. It is abhorrent and if not outright child abuse it isn’t far from it. You have so many fans and followers and are in a prime position to teach us tv-viewers or (addicts in my case) where we should draw the line. Keep up the good work and keep posting these messages, in hope that they’ll at least reach a few of us!!

  39. liddad says:

    Although I agree with this article, it’s really on the wrong site. Most of the people who come here are fans of serial dramas/comedys that do use hard-working actors. It’d be much more effective if this message could get to those who watch this crap.

    • tripoli says:

      That’s not entirely accurate. TV Line covers a lot of reality competition shows and a lot of visitors/commentors do watch reality tv. Perhaps not this type of show in particular, but something that falls within the realm of reality programming.

  40. Christine says:

    When the audience gave attention to programs like “16 and pregnant”, it really gave the “green light” for the expansion of “exploitainment” to exploiting even little kids today. It’s as if the audience said to young female teenagers, who are not still adults enough to understand what they’re doing to their lives: “find a way to get pregnant now, and you might become famous”.

  41. Katie says:

    To be honest, Michael, I’ve never really paid too close attention to your articles. It’s nothing against you or your writing, I guess I just kind of saw you as one of many spoiler-people. But this article completely turned me around. Today, for me, you became a real person. Such honest, refreshing reviews of horrifying television such as this is a rarity. I have nothing to contribute except to say “Keep up the good work!”

  42. Lauren says:

    Couldn’t agree more. That show should be illegal. Absolutely disgusting. I feel so sorry for the kids on it, their parents should know better. All that BS about how the kid wanted it. I don’t care, kids want to not go to school and eat chocolate all day, doesn’t mean we should condone it or let them.

  43. Ella says:

    Bravo matt, good article.

  44. Lipstick Socialism says:

    THANK YOU, MATT, for saying what really needed to be said.

  45. Elyse says:

    i couldn’t agree more! hopefully this show tanks. i’m guilty of watching reality TV but i don’t watch this stuff.

  46. smidnite says:

    I remember several stories on TV about kiddie pageants, including a documentary called Living Dolls: The Making of a Child Beauty Queen in which it was obvious that the prize money at these pageants did not even begin to cover the expenses; and the family featured was struggling to make ends meet. Another news story had a father admitting that his family had their power cut off several times since his daughter started competing. So, they’re putting the kids through this for what?

    • Bobbie says:

      For the despearate hope that they will get their kid into some exploitive TV show and then the parents can live the life of luxary while they milk their poor child for all the money they can.

  47. Ruby says:

    Best. Article. Ever.

  48. Jess says:

    I think the very fact that they even have beauty pagents for six year olds tells you something. That’s why shows like this are successful. Because they cater to the same people that allow pagents like that to exist. Here’s a thought… about we stop the actualy pagents (dance recitals, etc…) and then we won’t need to worry about any stupid shows being made from them.

  49. Amanda says:

    Can we all pitch in and buy a full-page ad in the NYT to print this?

    And “Just don’t look, just don’t look.” It killed the giant ad creatures on the Simpsons, maybe it will work for exploitainment, too.

  50. Lynda says:

    Well done, Matt!! Thanks for taking a stand :)