"Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" has an origin story, just like your typical superhero. After Alana Thompson captured the attention of "Toddlers & Tiaras" producers, Honey Boo Boo created some commotion at the network, according to Howard Lee, senior vice president of production and development at TLC.
"Internally, her single appearance on that episode created an inter-office stir as we passed around snippets and clips well before the episode aired," Lee said, by way of EW. "She made us all laugh, and she had found her first audience. It is as simple as that."
When the "Toddlers & Tiaras" episode aired, Honey Boo Boo became a viral sensation. YouTube clips and GIFs spread like wild fire. Alana, alongside Mama June and her go-go juice, made the talk show rounds, further fueling the public's fascination with the plucky child.
"We knew we had something special, but it was obvious that we couldn’t build an entire series on the shoulders of a young child," Lee said. "We needed to know more about her entire family. What we found was the candor, love, outright comedy, and warmth that surrounded Alana from mom June, dad Sugar Bear, and sisters Pumpkin, Jessica, and Anna. Never had a family been so blunt and honest in how they approach life."
Lee said it's the family's attitude, love for one another and embrace of the reality show process that made "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" the hit it is today. However, he's unsure if viewers have latched on to the show because they love it, or because they hate it.
The series has found itself the center of many conversations amongst the rich and famous. Tina Fey, Bristol Palin and Rosie O'Donnell are among its loyal viewers. "Hunger Games" star and Oscar nominee Jennifer Lawrence admitted to getting into a car accident because she was distracted by what she thought was Honey Boo Boo. Barbara Walters has named Honey Boo Boo as one of her Most Fascinating People of 2012. However, not every celebrity is a fan. Maroon 5 singer and "The Voice" coach Adam Levine had harsh words for the series.
"Seriously, Honey Boo Boo is the DECAY of Western civilization," Levine told "GQ." "Just because so many people watch the show doesn't mean it's good."
Walters' "View" co-host Joy Behar also criticized the reality star.
“What’s little Honey Boo Boo going to grow up to be? That’s what I want to know," Behar said. “She’s going to be a fat kid; she’s going to grow up to be a big fat woman. She is, I can tell. She’s just a kid, but you see the genetics are right there. She’s going to have large boob boobs -- Honey Boobs Boobs.”
Regardless, the show was a ratings hit for TLC and will be back for more episodes, including special holiday installments featuring the family celebrating Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas.
"The criticism of the series (and the appeal) has been polarizing," Lee said. "I’ve asked myself if America seized on loving or hating this series because it was too 'real' for them? Did we go too far? Did these stories and conversations of dieting, child pageants, pet pigs, food auctions, bad plumbing, bad breath contests, deer statues, toilet paper bombing, farting, belching, and sneezing cut too close to reality, and horrify? Or does this make us love them even more?"
Bristol Palin told "Inside Edition" she's a fan of "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo." "I'm a Honey Boo Boo fan, definitely," she told Inside Edition by way of New York Daily News. "More power to her for having such a successful show."
Anderson Cooper had Honey Boo Boo and her mother June on his talk show and even has a cutout of the pint-sized reality star in his office.
Rosie O'Donnell said she wants to meet the Thompson/Shannon family and buy them a house. "I think that little girl, Honey Boo Boo, she is like Shirley Temple," O'Donnell told People about the reality star. "She has a presence and an intellect that goes way beyond her years."
Tina Fey told The Huffington Post that she and the "30 Rock" writers watch "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" at work. "[E]very day at lunch our writers take a little break and watch a TV show and most times it's 'Honey Boo Boo' or 'Breaking Amish' ..." she said.
Britney Spears and Ke$ha tweeted at each other, both referencing terms from Honey Boo Boo's "Toddlers & Tiaras" appearance.
Snooki took to Twitter to express her love of Honey Boo Boo. "I honestly love the family honey boo boo has!" she tweeted.
Sammi, Deena and Jenni of "Jersey Shore" told The Huffington Post they watch "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo." "I would love to meet her. I've been a fan of hers since 'Toddlers & Tiaras.' I just think that her family is amazing," Jenni told HuffPost TV. "The mom is like the ultimate mom and they have a lifestyle like ours -- it's completely different, only some people get it, but at the end of the day, we're all a huge, loving family and same with her family. Her mother is all about her kids and just loves them and even though they're different and act crazy like we do, they only have love for the world. So I wish them the best and I hope they're very successful because they deserve it. They are very entertaining."