WashPost TV Critic Punches Hard: 'Honey Boo Boo' Is Far Better than HBO's 'The Newsroom'

Washington Post TV critic Hank Stuever sure knows how to puncture the arrogance of HBO. On Sunday, he compared “The Newsrooom” to TLC’s “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo,” and likes the redneck reality show much better.

Ouch. Stuever reported “Both shows are back again this week, but only one seems unscathed and completely sure of itself.” It’s not the Jeff Daniels-plays-Olbermann show:

When it debuted, Aaron Sorkin’s high-end and highly anticipated HBO drama was filled to bursting with its own self-seriousness and atonal verbiage, focused on the inner workings of a cable news network. Watching it take off was like sitting in the bleachers at a doomed air show. This was the new, ace series that was supposed to give us so much to discuss on Monday mornings? Very quickly it became the tragedy I didn’t want to talk about. “The Newsroom’s”  problems, as aggregated from the drubbing it took: It was boring, it was smug, it was relentlessly preachy, it was weirdly sexist, it rang false, it was unfeeling.

While “The Newsroom” is “facile and stale,” Stuever insisted “for all its cheapness and apparent vacuity, “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” (returning Wednesday night) gives us a million things to tell one another IN ALL CAPS.” Stuever thinks Sorkin made some salutary adjustments for his HBO series in Season Two, but he still finds it incredibly annoying:

A life spent parked in front of the television sometimes throws you a nice curve. The show you’re supposed to pay attention to has nothing to tell you, and the show that’s supposed to rot your brain actually turns it on. The show that’s supposed to be robust and sparky (in an NPR sort of way) just isn’t, and the show that gets everyone wagging their scoldy fingers (in an op-ed sort of way) is refreshingly jam-packed with opportunities for purposeful discussion.

For all its topicality, for all its credentials and high production values, for all its well-intentioned desire to be spot-on about modern politics and society, “The Newsroom” doesn’t work. As revealed by the first four episodes of the second season (beginning Sunday night), even a tweaked “Newsroom” is a still pretty much a bore.

Meanwhile, “The more we hang around the Boo Boo clan, the less they seem like ogres and the more they function as a fascinating entree into America’s most pressing concerns: economy, employment, equality, health, community.” Yes, they try to check every box that says “redneck” as they construct their plots, but it still finds more humanity. Stuever concluded with a stiff kick in HBO’s programming derriere:

Meanwhile, back on “The Newsroom” it will soon enough be the summer of 2012 in Will McAvoy’s world, and he may very well find a way to derisively drop a Honey Boo Boo reference into one of his monologues, perhaps while mansplaining journalistic and documentary ethics to that hot gossip columnist (played by Hope Davis) he can’t stay away from.

I can only hope she’ll tell him it’s her favorite show of all time and spend the rest of the episode talking and talking and talking about it, until Will finally leaps through a window.

Hank Stuever
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