Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, Toddlers & Tiaras producer defends his series

The lives of Alana “Honey Boo Boo” Thompson and her family have become a huge hit for TLC, whose Here Comes Honey Boo Boo has not just strong ratings but national recognition. They also have a show I found to be extraordinarily cruel to its cast members.

For The Daily Beast, I talked to the show’s executive producer, Tom Rogan, whose Authentic Entertainment is responsible for Jeff Lewis’ Bravo series Flipping Out and TLC’s Toddlers & Tiaras.

He offered specific and interesting defenses of the subtitling and editing, and argues that he’s doing exactly what I want reality show producers to do: show up and film and present the results as authentically as possible. He said even the heavily produced segments–the visit from the etiquette coach, for example–come out of conversations with the family and are consistent with what they’d be doing anyway, like working on Alana’s etiquette for pageants.

We also talked about Toddlers & Tiaras, and the ethics of filming children who become objects of ridicule and scorn on a national level. The short version: He said, “we’re just documenting the life of these people and what they’re doing naturally,” insisting, “I don’t think there’s anything these families need from us, because we’re not really changing the course of their lives.”

Read the full piece and interview for our discussion and his thoughts about his series.

By the way, Rogan also told me that the family is comfortable with how they’re being portrayed and edited. June and Alana appeared on Anderson Cooper’s retooled (and better!) daytime talk show on Monday, and June reiterated that she doesn’t care what people think and just “are who we are.”

about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.