Watch out! Here comes Honey Boo Boo! In 2012, TLC shocked the world when the network launched their newest reality series—Here Comes Honey Boo Boo—set in McIntyre, Georgia and following a family around with names like “Sugar Bear,” “Pumpkin,” “Boo Boo,” “Chubbs” and “Chickadee.” Quickly amassing millions of followers and earning the reputation as “junk television,” people couldn’t help but watch the six-year-old pageant queen, Alana “Honey Boo Boo” Thompson, and the rest of her family.
Lasting for more than 50 episodes from 2012 to 2014 and shocking critics around the country for its offensive, outrageous and exploitative nature, TLC couldn’t help but cash in on Alana’s sassy attitude in what became a train wreck that millions of viewers couldn’t help but watch. Now parodied in television shows and films like South Park and Scary Movie 5, we couldn’t help but wonder how life after the spotlight has changed Alana.
How much has Honey Boo Boo grown up and what is she and the rest of her family up to these days? Join us as we take a look at Alana’s journey from her debut as a six-year-old pageant queen drinking “Go Go Juice” on Toddlers & Tiaras to life after wrapping up her own reality show. Come on, you know you’re curious!
#10 – Growing Up Boo Boo
“This is My Crazy Family!” Life hasn’t always been easy for the Thompson-Shannon family while growing up in McIntyre, Georgia. Before rising to fame on the TLC reality series Toddlers & Tiaras, Mama June Shannon abandoned her oldest daughter Anna (“Chickadee”) while she ran off with her new boyfriend just as child protective services intervened. With Anna’s grandmother given full custody of her until the show began, Mama June gave birth to two more daughters—Lauryn (“Pumpkin”) and Jessica (“Chubbs”)—before welcoming her youngest daughter, Alana Thompson, on August 28, 2005.
Within the first few episodes of Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, audiences soon learned that Anna, Lauryn, Jessica and Alana all have different fathers with Alana’s dad being Mama June’s latest flame, Mike “Sugar Bear” Thompson. Mama June and Sugar Bear met in May 2004 shortly after he was released from serving five years in jail after robbing hunting camps and setting an RV on fire in 1998. Quickly becoming pregnant with Alana, money was tight for the family as they barely scraped by in their quiet rural town.
#9 – Toddlers and Tiaras
“Gonna Be a Sassy Girl!” Things quickly changed for Mama June and her family when the world was first introduced to Alana on Toddlers & Tiaras as she and her mom were shown throwing paper towels at each other as June proudly proclaimed she was “The Coupon Queen” and Alana was “The Beauty Queen.” Showing a quick glimpse into Alana’s spunky personality and dozens of pageant trophies at only six years old, the sassy pageant princess was an instant hit on the show.
As the clip from the episode went viral, audiences were hooked on the wild child and her interesting family with their quirky nicknames and southern drawl. Needless to say, it didn’t take long for TLC to capitalize on the clip’s success when they gave Alana and Mama June their own spinoff series, Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, following Alana’s pageant competitions and the rest of the family’s daily life at their home in Georgia.
#8 – Here She Comes
“I’m Sassified!” Months after Alana’s first appearance on Toddlers & Tiaras drinking Mama June’s famed “Go Go Juice” blend of Mountain Dew and Red Bull, TLC announced the upcoming debut of Here Comes Honey Boo Boo. It was then that the world learned they would eventually get to meet the rest of Alana’s Georgia family including her dad “Sugar Bear” as well as her sisters, “Pumpkin,” “Chickadee” and “Chubbs” whose nicknames alone sparked more interest than the network ever imagined.
Premiering on August 8, 2012, audiences finally met Honey Boo Boo in her true element as 2.2 million viewers tuned in to see the sassy pageant queen and her family. In only a matter of weeks, TLC had already renewed the series after a fantastic outpouring of support for the cast made the show an even bigger success as a huge moneymaker that was cheap to produce with ratings that were through the roof. Honey Boo Boo was a reality television star.
#7 – Overnight Star
“Time for a Sketti!” Ratings continued to soar for Here Comes Honey Boo Boo as one of the first few episodes went head to head with the 2012 Republican National Convention when viewership was expected to drop. However, the opposite proved true as Boo Boo brought in nearly three million viewers making it the highest rated show on all of cable television. Entranced by their Georgia lifestyle and the bratty and outspoken six-year-old, the world couldn’t get enough even if critics were left speechless.
So just how bad were the reviews? One critic said that Here Comes Honey Boo Boo was attempting to “portray Alana’s family as a horde of lice picking, lard eating, nose thumbing hooligans south of the Mason-Dixon Line.” Despite the severity of such remarks, Alana seemed to be enjoying her newly discovered celebrity status even as things started to take a turn for the worse. While life seemed fine when the cameras were rolling, it was a different story as rumors ran wild about Boo Boo’s life behind the scenes.
#6 – Behind the Curtain
“Mo’ Butter, Mo’ Better.” Shortly before the premiere of Here Comes Honey Boo Boo in 2012, the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services (GDFCS) visited Mama June and Sugar Bear to investigate the treatment of Alana and her siblings. Although the visit wasn’t publicly revealed until after the series premiere, the GDFCS paid the family a visit after Toddlers & Tiaras showed Mama June giving Alana “Go Go Juice” and feeding her children roadkill for dinner.
After the investigation, authorities stated that they “found reason to bring the case to court” and that some of their evidence included a video of Alana dancing on top of a table in a poorly lit room while dollar bills flew through the air. Eventually dropping the case after there was no further evidence of mistreatment or abuse, no charges were filed against Mama June or Sugar Bear giving TLC no reason to cancel the popular show.
#5 – The Show Goes On
“Happily Ever After?” By 2013, Here Comes Honey Boo Boo was gearing up for its second season as the ratings remained steady with over 2.8 million viewers tuning in to watch the season premiere on July 17. With wedding bells in the future for Mama June and Sugar Bear, audiences couldn’t help themselves as they followed the family’s wedding preparations skyrocketing the show to even higher ratings and more network specials including a TLC “Watch N’ Sniff” giveaway for viewers who tuned in.
Wrapping up its second season with 3.2 million viewers watching as Mama June and Sugar Bear tied the knot, TLC renewed the series for its third season and announced three additional specials to the show for 2014. With nothing but success and stardom on the horizon (as well as a happily ever after), Alana and the rest of the family figured their money making machine and celebrity status would last forever but, as things go in the reality television circuit, life changed dramatically in 2014.
#4 – End of the Road
“Trouble in Paradise!” Debuting on January 16, 2014, the third season premiere of Here Comes Honey Boo Boo reached over two million viewers once again confirming TLC’s decision to renew the series for another season. Wrapping up the third season on March 6, 2014 with just under two million viewers, the series saw a quick turnaround and a dip in viewers when it debuted its fourth season only three months later on June 19, 2014. Airing its final show of the season on August 14, 2014, little did the family know that the series had finally come to an end.
With TLC yet to renew the series for its fifth season, the decision was an easy one to make in October 2014 when TMZ revealed that Mama June had been secretly dating a man named Mark McDaniel. While June’s personal life was normally up to her, the fact that McDaniel was fresh out of prison after serving 10 years for sexually abusing one of June’s relatives was enough to outrage even the most loyal Honey Boo Boo fans. As a result, audiences demanded the show’s cancellation and TLC quickly obliged.
#3 – Fallout: Georgia
“Vowel of Silence.” Despite having dozens of additional episodes in the queue for future specials and airings, TLC canceled the series as a result of the scandal. The network released a statement that said, “Supporting the health and welfare of these remarkable children is our only priority. TLC is faithfully committed to the children’s ongoing comfort and well-being.” As a result, TLC also pulled Mama June’s salary on the basis that she violated the “morality clause” with her relationship with Mark McDaniel.
Following through with their commitment to the children, the network remained dedicated to taking care of Alana, Lauryn, Jessica and Anna and put their paychecks into a trust fund for their future use. As a result of the excessive stress, Alana’s father—“Sugar Bear”—ran into some health problems after collapsing from high blood pressure while visiting Mama June’s house. Mark’s brother, who was known as “Uncle Poodle” on the show, tried to gain custody of Alana in a highly publicized legal battle that was incredibly stressful on the young child.
#2 – Moving On
“Ain’t Gonna Leave Me.” As Uncle Poodle, Sugar Bear and Mama June continued to battle for custody, the stress continued to build on Alana who was already considerably overweight. By the time she appeared on The Doctors in February 2015 with Mama June, Alana weighed in at 125 pounds causing the hosts of the show to put both her and her mom on a “health intervention” in an effort to help them lose weight and live healthier. Still sticking with the program today, the intervention has obviously helped both Alana and her mom.
Once living in an impoverished area of rural Georgia to taking the spotlight as reality television stars, the family seemingly didn’t want to give up their fame as both Mama June and her daughter “Pumpkin” revealed they were bisexual during an interview with Inside Edition. Luckily, many saw it as a ploy by the women to stay in the spotlight so the news didn’t carry much weight or have a lasting presence. Fortunately, things finally cooled off before the world heard from Honey Boo Boo and her family again.
#1 – Growing Up Without the Cameras
“Girl Power!” Now 11 years old and looking like a real lady, things have been quite different for Alana who is now living a somewhat normal life in Georgia. Recently taking the red carpet in a black and white dress with high heels and straightened hair, Alana joined Oprah on Where Are They Now? when she reflected about the show and how she felt after hearing that it was canceled. Alana said, “I woke up one morning and I was like, ‘Where’s the crew?’ And my mom was like, ‘We stopped filming the show.’”
Admitting that she had mixed feelings about the show being cancelled, Alana said, “I was kind of happy, but at the same time I was sad. So I was kind of sa-happy?” Of course, we wouldn’t expect any other response from Alana after watching the series but we are glad she’s doing much better these days. Still living with Mama June and the rest of her family, things haven’t changed too much for the Georgia family as June recently made headlines when she announced she was going on a strip club tour this summer to raise money. Looks like some things never change.