Teen Mom 2, Season 5, “Harder Than It Looks”

Teen Mom 2 was borderline unbearable last night. It’s been a while since I’ve debated whether or not to turn the whole thing off.

We finally got the long-awaited conclusion to “where the fuck did Jenelle‘s dogs go?” and I kind of wish we hadn’t. Apparently they’ve been crated in the garage the whole time, and the mysterious second dog, owned by Nathan, is !!SHOCKER!! a Husky. Why can’t irresponsible dog owners ever adopt a fifteen year old Shih Tzu that just wanders around and sleeps all day. They always need a Pit Bull or a Husky or in this case both. In another stunning turn of events that I’m sure will not be stunning to anyone who has owned a dog spent time with a dog seen a picture of a dog, the dogs were nonplussed at being caged in a North Carolina garage and Luger (Jesus Christ, Nathan) decided to go for an Andy Dick Prison Break (escape, eat cage, shit on floor.) Jenelle curses out the dogs and threatens to get rid of them before shoving them both into one cage (since the other has been eaten) to go buy a replacement. As she’s putting together the cage, Luger snaps at the Pit Bull, so she does the obvious thing and opens the door and prays they flee into the wilderness. I have a feeling those dogs didn’t run past the front lawn, or in the most extreme scenario, they got taken in by someone with production, but bless them, running might be their best option. Baby Jace should have gone with them, they could all live down by the river and form their own society based around karate and destroying furniture.

Leah might be the only person more fucked than Jenelle’s dogs. Since the last time we saw her, Leah has become involved in a pyramid scheme. OF COURSE LEAH IS INVOLVED IN A PYRAMID SCHEME. People who are inextricably screwed like Leah are exactly the targets of pyramid schemes. Leah’s portion of the show involved her and Jeremy going to Big Sandy (Jesus Christ) and attempting to buy a new washer and dryer. Leah’s credit card is declined and she’s forced to admit to Jeremy she spent $1300 on Mary Kay makeup to sell. Her justification is so laden with buzzwords she reads more like an informational booklet than a human being. She’s “growing her business” she’s receiving “54% of the profit” she knows you’ve got to “spend money to make money.” I want to know what’s in the pills she’s on because she’s turning into Ellen Burstyn in Requiem For A Dream real fast. It. Is. Heartbreaking.

Was Chelsea even in this episode? Chelsea is pissed that Adam has gotten into another traffic accident (fair enough) and that her esthetician license is still being held by the labor board. North Dakota’s bureau of labor apparently does not have a lot on it’s plate. She’s also chastises Aubree for sitting on the table, but Aubree is her own woman and cannot be contained.

Kailyn‘s segment should be mandatory viewing for ninth grade sexual education classes. It was not particularly dramatic, or negative, in fact, it centered on Kailyn celebrating her 21st birthday with her friends and family. Still I think this exchange with her friend at her birthday dinner perfectly summarizes the problem with having a child at a young age, or any child, ever, period.

Kailyn: pumped milk just in case we decided to go out
Kailyn’s friend: it’s your birthday

 

Have fun trying to describe your life with a child to anyone who doesn’t have a kid. It’s not relatable. Look how many columns and indie-comedies are produced every year by semi-self-aware thirty-somethings trying to describe life after kids and the divide between parents and non-parents. If people with disposable income and time to wax poetic can’t grasp it, teenagers are fucked. Kailyn’s friends are sitting around lamenting the lack of lime in their mojitos, as an aspect of her life that has hugely complicated things (breastfeeding) just goes over their heads. Kailyn looks like she had a fun night out, but I couldn’t help but thing of these poor, delusional girls on 16 and Pregnant who are thinking stretch marks will be the most lasting impact of creating life, and if they could just get back to that pre-pregnancy body everything will be the same. They can still go clubbing, they’ll just need a babysitter. Meanwhile Kailyn’s dressed up in front of a platter of booze and thinking about breastmilk.

 

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In Defense of Honey Boo Boo

So this salacious headline just came up on my Twitter feed: “The real Honey Boo Boo: What reality TV did to the pint-size pageant queen.”

I realize this is clickbait and entertainment news and quite possibly partially or totally fabricated by the Honey Boo Boo marketing machine to drum up publicity for the new season of their show… Buuuut it is on Salon and I feel if you’re writing for that sizable a publication some minimum standards for common sense should apply.

First of all the title. What reality TV did to the pint-size pageant queen. Does that evoke images of JonBenet or Honey Boo Boo with a syringe sticking out of her arm and a fist full of Mountain Dew and pancake syrup in her hand? It’s kind of setting itself up for some sort of dramatic transformation. But pageviews, traditional journalism is dead, blah blah blah, I can let it go.

I was at the recent “Tonight Show” taping where Fallon interviewed Honey Boo Boo, and I couldn’t believe what I saw

Okay, getting a little bolder.

Then a couple paragraphs about who Honey Boo Boo is and who Jimmy Fallon is and how the author really does not want to be there and only came for Barbara Walters and expanding upon her credentials as a former audience seater which she tries to play off with the the term “full disclosure” a phrase that is virtually never used in a place it is necessary, and how television was once a place of esteem, and how everything good is dead, and blah blah blah.

And then Honey Boo Boo entered. When she first walked out onto the stage, my immediate thought was – of course. Of course she is swinging her arms like that and wearing that leopard print outfit. Of course.

I assume she meant by this that it was immediately obvious the interview would play to Honey Boo Boo’s television persona, an ostentatious, sassy little girl.

It was almost like watching a cartoon come to life.

So Pootie-Poot is werkin it and drawing our reporter in, where she thought she would fall flat as a one-dimensional, overly-engineered caricature acted by a child who is probably not old enough to understand the consequences of her actions.

And then she loses me, hard. Like taking a hard corner in a Jeep without a seat belt kind of hard. 

“For example, the friendship bracelet moment seems cute and quick on TV, but in person, it was actually kind of agonizing. It didn’t just happen once, but several times, and the more it was discussed, the more openly hostile Boo Boo became.”

This is referring to some sort of bit where Jimmy Fallon asks Honey Boo Boo for a friendship bracelet, and she shuts him down. I’m not sure if this is meant as a neutral recounting of events, or if Honey Boo Boo’s reluctance is meant to be viewed with a certain degree of horror. Isolated, the comment seems innocuous enough, but in the context of the rest of the article, there’s an odd percentage of responsibility assigned to Honey Boo Boo, who, as a reminder, is nine years old. What child, or adult for that matter, isn’t irritated when someone repeatedly tries to manipulate their behavior? I’m assuming the exchange went something like:

Jimmy Fallon: Hey Alana, can I have a friendship bracelet?
Honey Boo Boo: No
Jimmy Fallon: Are you sure you don’t want to give me a friendship bracelet?
Honey Boo Boo: No
Jimmy Fallon: Aren’t The Roots great? Can I have a friendship bracelet?
Honey Boo Boo: No

Yeah, I don’t get how a group of people who regularly start screaming when asked to put their shoes on are upset by some mild badgering on a television set in a room full of strangers. If anything, I’m impressed by Honey Boo Boo’s intelligence, half the celebrities on TMZ can’t figure out they’re being asked the same question when it is rephrased.

In addition to the friendship bracelet crisis, the episode left out some deeply uncomfortable spats between Mama June and Alana. You see it a bit in the broadcast, but Mama June was continually either answering questions on behalf of Boo Boo or mumbling answers to her.

What. How is this shocking even by entertainment news standards? She is NINE YEARS OLD.

“The quick wit we’ve come to expect from Honey Boo Boo was nowhere to be seen, but instead it was fed to her by her pageant mom.”

We’re saddling a fourth grader with responsibility to carry an engaging conversation? Are we going to complain she doesn’t make the gin and tonics strong enough and her couch is tacky next? My real problem is that if she was a four-year-old, this would be adorable. If she were a twenty-eight-year old actress, and she was being fed lines by her momager/publicist/image consultant, this would be ‘standard practice.’ But Honey Boo Boo is at that awkward age where she’s too old to be cute, and not old enough we feel comfortable objectifying her. She’s no good to us right now, and O’Shoney seems to agree.

The truth is, she’s growing up, about to enter puberty, one of the most confusing periods of human existence. She is not the spunky little cherub running around in pink dresses anymore, or at least she shouldn’t be. But this is what we’ve come to expect from her, and the reality-TV-industrial-complex wants her to keep on delivering it.

There is the place Honey Boo Boo’s childhood intersects with our own. The weird age where the power starts to transition and we take on more and more of our own decisions. It might be a strange thought, but I wonder if Honey Boo Boo’s theoretical on-camera adolescence will really be more damaging than any of our own. Is throwing a fit in front of Jimmy Fallon really all that different from rolling your eyes at Uncle Mike at the family dinner at Chili’s. Is having millions of people watch you really different from feeling like they are already. Our adolescent experiences can be radically different and we still all walk away feeling like they were simultaneously completely exhilarating and total shit. Godspeed you Honey Boo Boo, and good luck, you’re going to need it.

How not to blog

I’ve been learning a bit about SEO and apparently my habit of titling nothing and tagging everything with dumb asides like “old whores,” “truthbombs,” and “praise handjob” for my own amusement has been biting me in the ass in terms of search engine rankings. Not that I’ve ever aggressively attempted to “build my readership” or get anyone to read my blogs that I didn’t already know, but apparently I’ve been THE PERFECT EXAMPLE of how not to publish a blog or be recognized. That sort of contrarian logic miiiiight be present in other aspects of my life.