The Voice coach and Maroon 5 lead singer Adam Levine isn’t a fan of 2012’s breakthrough reality series Here Comes Honey Boo Boo. In a brief Q&A with GQ, Adam was asked which would be worse: “Waking up not famous or waking up as one of Honey Boo Boo’s parents?” He responded with a rant:
“Seriously, Honey Boo Boo is the DECAY of Western civilization. Just because so many people watch the show doesn’t mean it’s good. So many people witness atrocities and can’t take their eyes away from them, but that doesn’t mean they’re good. That show is literally The. Worst. Thing. That’s. Ever. Happened. It’s complete fucking ignorance and the most despicable way to treat your kids. Fuck those people. You can put that in the magazine: Fuck those idiots. They’re just the worst. Sorry, I’m so sensitive to that–like, I don’t know, man, it’s upsetting. Just to clarify, I said, ‘FUCK THOSE PEOPLE.'”
First, I think it’s unfortunate that he’s directing his rage entirely at the family, not the show’s produces or TLC, who present the family in a way that invites judgement–though its producers insist they are just presenting reality. That said, there are arguments that could be made about their parenting and decision to televise their lives, though calling it “the most despicable way to treat your kids” goes a bit overboard. After all, this is the week in which a video of a dolphin biting a girl’s hand at Sea World went viral, a video that includes the girl crying and upset and refusing to show her wound to her dad’s camera until her mother promises, “I’m not going to show it to anybody.” Fantastic parenting.
But I digress. The most fascinating part of Adam’s brief argument/rant/expression of rage that is clearly not about Honey Boo Boo is his insistence that popularity does not equal quality. I couldn’t agree more. Alas, television is a business that cares most about making money, and if people watch, it will air. Sometimes high quality shows get viewers, and we all win, but that’s usually the exception.
Ironically, The Voice is an example of this, though far from the most egregious one: NBC’s desperation to have a hit show led the network to air more episodes more frequently, in addition to broadcasting two seasons a year, nearly back-to-back. What was a music competition show that stood out for not being a loud, overbearing spectacle (I’m looking at you, X Factor), has increasingly moved in that direction.