Here Comes Honey Boo Boo!

Tue May 14, 9-9.30pm, TLC

Series one, episode one
Woah! Some proper end-of-days stuff here. In centuries to come, when historians ponder the decline of the American empire and the vulgarising, stupefying effects of Late Capitalism, this will be the kind of thing they cite as symptomatic.

This is reality TV as grim parable. The dysfunction levels are turned up to 11, but with exploitative rather than cautionary intentions. The show focuses on the Thompsons of McIntyre, Georgia. They breakfast on cheeseballs and energy drinks. They enter beauty pageants. They attend the Redneck Games (‘like the Olympics but with lots of missing teeth and buttcracks showing’). They think that farting 12-15 times a day will help them lose weight. And the whole deal is orchestrated for maximum, point-and-stare, freak show effect.

Certain TV phenomena work because of their car-crash compulsiveness. But this is one of those car crashes with shin bones sticking out of legs and entrails hanging out of chests and children crying for their dead mothers. The kind of thing you can’t forget but wish you’d never seen.