Since its August debut, TLC's new series "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo," which centers around Alana Thompson, a 7-year-old wannabe beauty queen and her unapologetically vulgar but loving rural Georgia family, has spurred thousands of jokes and insults on Twitter as well as parody skits on shows such as "SNL" and "Chelsea Lately."
"Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, a spin-off of the child pageant series "Toddlers & Tiaras," shows the close-knit family members farting, burping and scratching and taking part in odd activities - participating in "Redneck Games," playing a mouth odor contest, eating road kill and making spaghetti sauce with butter and ketchup. The ratings have increased since the show's debut and now the cast reportedly wants a performance-based raise.
The family members are currently negotiating with the cable network for higher salaries for season 2, which has not been announced yet, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The 10th and final episode of the debut season airs on Wednesday, September 26.
The outlet says the family currently earns up to $4,000 per episode and that the cast wants the figure to be raised to $10,000 in season 2. Reps for the cable channel and parent company Discovery Communications have declined to comment about the matter.
The two-hour series premiere of "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" aired on August 8 and earned a 0.8 rating among adults between ages 18 and 49. About 2.19 million people tuned in. The most recent episode of "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo," which aired on September 19, received a 1.0 rating among adults between ages 18 and 49 and was watched by 2.15 million people. It ranked among the top five most-watched cable shows.
In addition to the mockery, some people have questioned whether or not TLC is exploiting the family to showcase Southern "redneck" stereotypes. Regardless, Eileen O'Neill, Group President of the cable channel's parent company, Discovery Communications, recently weighed in about the matter.
"See, I don't think we're laughing at them," she told The Hollywood Reporter, when asked how she answers the criticism that Thompson is being exploited for cheap laughs. "I think we're leaning in to be surprised and entertained. At the end of it, these people are rich in love, and we find that attractive. And anytime you have kids involved in shows, that question is going to come up, whether it's with 'Toddlers' or [Lifetime's] 'Dance Moms.'"
"We've been doing this for a number of years, and we're consistent with our approach: If the family is uncomfortable in the production of the show or the way the show is presented, we're going to make changes or get out," she added. "Why would we want to do anything differently? So we're really proud of the show."
"Honey Boo Boo" merchandise has already been released. The very confident Thompson, whose parents have convinced her she will become Miss America some day, often utters nonsense phrases, such as "You Betta Redneckognize." They have become fan-favorite slogans and have even made into $26.95 T-shirts offered on The Discovery Channel's website. Free ringtones - aka free advertising - of other catchphrases, such as "Dolla Makes Me Holla" are also available.
Other top reality show earners include Snooki and Pauly D from MTV's "Jersey Shore," who make about $100,000 per episode (Check out 9 fun facts about Snooki, "Jersey Shore" and her fame.) In 2009, before their divorce, Jon and Kate Gosselin were making $22,500 per episode of their TLC series "Jon & Kate Plus 8," which focused on their life with their sextuplets and twins.
Earlier this year, Kim Kardashian and her family reportedly signed a $40 million deal earlier this year to continue to star and co-produce their E! series "Keeping Up With The Kardashians" and its spin-offs, marking the biggest deal in reality TV history.