Can’t Look Away From Honey Boo Boo? Ui Can Tell You Why!

Inevitably the backlash against “Honey Boo Boo” and her family has begun. I was traveling in Boston last week for a User Insight project when the buzz of the show reached me. Our CEO who I follow on Twitter to keep up with trends in “Cognitive Business Intelligence” had tweeted something about the show. I generally can correlate my “happiness” quotient to the hours of Television I consume in a week (the less TV the better), and since I have been pretty happy recently I had not encountered any of the advertisements for the show. So I did a little digging.

For those of you unaware of “Honey Boo Boo” and her delightfully stereotypical family feel free to check them out here:

A word of caution for our intrepid readers, I am Southern By Choice having spent the first 26 years of my life in the snowy and frosty confines of New England. The last 17 years have been spent in the Atlanta Metro area though I am lucky enough to have traveled extensively throughout the US, Europe and Asia for work throughout the years. I love Atlanta and the spirit of the city. I have witnessed its growth in both shock (commuting) and awe (we are the 9th largest Metro Area in the Country with an economy of $270 Billion Dollars and this ranks us 6th in the US, and 15th Worldwide). Historically we have been coined “the City too busy to hate”. My favorite joke about Atlanta has always been “The problem with it is, when you leave it you are in the South.”

Don’t worry I am getting back to “Honey Boo Boo”, I promise. So I began my digging by searching Twitter and Facebook. Some posts or tweets were positive “this is hilarious” and some were sad “I can’t believe these people live in Georgia and so do I”. I will not weigh in with a speech about “sentiment analysis” but suffice it to say I think both the “Chatty Cathys” and” Keeping up Karls” (check out our Social TV Personas here) would agree on a “hashtag” of #trainwreck. From TLC,  the same network that brings us such gems as “Toddlers and Tiaras”, “Strange Sex” and “Extreme Couponing”, “Honey Boo Boo” is out in the world and is hot. It has garnered 2.2 MM viewers which is huge for a cable show on this kind of niche network.

It’s hot enough that the Today Show (the most watched morning “news” program) recently asked me in a banner ad, “Do you have Honey Boo Boo Fever?”, I suppose hoping I would click to find out about this deadly disease. Its symptoms require you to  speak only when subtitles are available.  It’s so hot that  people have begun to pick on “The Coupon Queen” AKA “Honey Boo Boo’s Mama”. Her arrest record, the shocking revelation that “Sugar Bear” (Honey Boo Boo’s Daddy) is not the only man she has procreated with, and the least funny allegation that DFACS here in Georgia had investigated the family. It turns out that DFACS had made an inquiry about “Honey Boo Boo’s” Mama having “juiced” her before pageants with a mixture of “Mountain Dew” and “Red Bull” to give her a little extra “oomph” while she “hollers for a dollar” at the local beauty contest. Thankfully my 11 year old son has adopted a Mormon’s stance to Soda all on his own so I don’t have to fight that battle at home.

OK so now it’s hot and some people find it hilarious. Others find it “exploitative”. I am going to remain Sweden on this one and just say it’s not my “cup of tea”, but don’t judge anyone who enjoys laughing at or with this family that begs you do so with their antics on the show. What’s fun for me about we do at User Insight everyday in talking to people everyday about their hopes, desires, motivations, wants and needs from our client’s products and service is that over time I have arrived at two universal truths that I am sure I bore my colleagues with:

The first – “People want to see themselves in your product, service, app, webpage etc.”. They want to see themselves enjoying the product. They want to see themselves creating memories and participating in experiences with friends and family.

The second – People’s mobile devices are filthy.

How does “Honey Boo Boo” shine a light on this universal truth? No TV show has ever gone wrong letting its viewer feel superior to the characters on the screen. So go ahead and laugh, or scream it to the hills that “The Coupon Queen” is a lousy Mom. Either way recognize that TLC got it right on this one. They allow some to feel superior by laughing and others to cry out about the moral decay of our society. Either way we are talking about it, and I would expect that those decrying “Honey Boo Boo” as exploitative are even watching it. #trainwreck