The Real Reason Here Comes Honey Boo Boo Was Cancelled

Ever wonder why Here Comes Honey Boo Boo got cancelled? One of the stranger draws of reality television is the glimpses it gives us into the lives of people whose lives we might never get to see otherwise. It's equal parts uplifting and unsettling, making us grateful for the situations we're in, but at the same time drawing us deeply in to "real" worlds that we didn't know existed. The list of wacky, off-beat reality shows could occupy an entire cable subscription, but one of the most iconic was Here Comes Honey Boo Boo.

The reality program began as a spinoff of TLC's Toddlers and Tiaras, following the life of Georgia contestant Alana "Honey Boo Boo" Thompson, who's all grown up today. It featured Thompson and her family, a cast of characters with names like Chubbs, Chickadee, Sugar Bear, and Pumpkin. June "Mama June" Shannon served as the matriarch of the bunch, and America couldn't get enough. 

That is, until 2014, when TLC abruptly cancelled the show. So why was Here Comes Honey Boo Boo yanked off the air seemingly overnight? Here are the real reasons why Here Comes Honey Boo Boo got the axe.

This is the biggest reason Here Comes Honey Boo Boo was cancelled

In October of 2014, TMZ dropped a bomb on the reality TV world, publishing a photo of June "Mama June" Shannon in a hotel room with an alleged new love interest. That man's name was Mark McDaniel, and he'd just been released after serving ten years in prison for molesting an eight-year-old child. What's worse, TMZ also reported the child was someone who Shannon was in contact with.

At the time, TMZ reported TLC as saying they were "very concerned" about the news, and would be reassessing the future of the show — but it didn't take the network long to reach a decision. The next day, TLC cancelled Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, saying in a statement, "Supporting the health and welfare of these remarkable children is our only priority. TLC is faithfully committed to the children's ongoing comfort and well-being" (via The Washington Post).

For her part, Shannon denied dating McDaniel. People reported her posting a blanket denial on her Facebook page, stating, "It isn't true, I promise...I left him 10 years ago for it and I wouldn't go back."

TLC cancelled Here Comes Honey Boo Boo to avoid more scandals

By the time the Mark McDaniel story broke, TLC was already running weary of scandals connected to its shows. So having one more to deal with may have just been too much. Perhaps the best-known scandal involved Josh Duggar from 19 Kids and Counting, when InTouch reported that he'd been accused of inappropriately touching children when he was 14. Duggar later admitted to committing "inexcusable acts," according to ABC News, but the show was cancelled anyway.

Sex crimes also rocked Cheer Perfection, when in August 2014, star Andrea Clevenger pled guilty to raping with a 13-year-old boy and sending him sexually explicit pictures. She was sentenced to ten years in prison, according to TMZ. The show got another black eye when TMZ reported that Cheer Time Revolution co-owner Ronald Dunlap was arrested for marijuana possession.

Three years earlier, former Cake Boss star Remigio Gonzalez also pled guilty to raping a 13-year-old, one of Cake Boss' biggest scandals. He was sentenced to nine years in a New Jersey State prison in 2012; and according to faced "almost certain" deportation to Mexico upon his release.

Honey Boo Boo herself was actually getting older

Some may have forgotten that Alana "Honey Boo Boo" Thompson and her family began their meteoric rise on Toddlers & Tiaras, thrusting Thompson into the limelight at the young age 5, according to The Sun. The tabloid also reported the family pocketed about $2.75 million during their time on the show — a nice chunk of change, to be sure, but also a tough act to maintain as an adorable "toddler" gets older.

By the time the Mark McDaniel scandal erupted in 2014, Thompson was already 9 years old, and presumably the focus of Here Comes Honey Boo Boo would have had to change from her being a child into being a pre-teen. 

Though her teenage years are not being chronicled as closely, Thompson did receive some love for her 15th birthday. People reported the girls group Sorelle sent Thompson a personalized a capella rendition of the birthday song. And WE tv — the network on which Mama June: From Hot to Not airs — posted a picture of her on Instagram, captioning it "#HappyBirthday @honeybooboo! Wishing you a slice of happiness!" next to an animated neon sign reading "Happy Birthday Alana."

Honey Boo Boo's relationship with her mother may have been deteriorating

Though we didn't get much insight beyond what we saw on TV into Alana "Honey Boo Boo" Thompson and June "Mama June" Shannon's relationship, if its current state is any indication, it probably wasn't very good. In 2019, TMZ reported the entire family having to stage an intervention for Shannon, citing her gambling and substance issues as reasons she needed to straighten out her life. Thompson had to move in with her older sister, and later refused to move back in with her mother as long as her boyfriend, Geno Doak, was living there, according to TMZ.

In April, Thompson's older sister, Lauren "Pumpkin" Shannon, went into greater detail about Shannon's relationships with her children during an interview with Entertainment Tonight. "It's been very difficult because... [Thompson] is younger and she needs her mom," she explained. "She's lived with her mom her entire life and now she had to uproot and move out of that home and move in with us." 

Thompson continues to live with her older sister, her husband, Josh Efrid, and their 2-year-old daughter Ella.

Here Comes Honey Boo Boo's Ratings were dropping and not likely to improve

When Here Comes Honey Boo Boo premiered in 2012 it was a ratings smash, garnering itself an audience of 2.2 million people and a 1.6 share among 18-49 year-olds, according to The Hollywood Reporter. It was also the highest rated show on basic cable in its evening time slot. But as happens with many TV shows, over time ratings began to slip, and though they weren't terminally bad they still weren't high enough to withstand a scandal.

According to a Vulture analysis of the show's cancellation, the audience had plateaued at about 1.5 million viewers. And though that was still good enough to win its time slot among cable programs, and land it in the top five for TLC's shows among women under 35, its time was still limited. There was a slight dip in ratings when the show moved to Thursday night, which tracks, given that historically the life of a cable "docusoap" is two to four years. Additionally, after 50 episodes, the odds of a ratings spike aren't good.

Did TLC cancel Here Comes Honey Boo Boo to make room for this show?

Though June "Mama June" Shannon has certainly had her share of off-screen issues, she was at the very least vindicated in her claims that she was not dating an abuser. Shortly after Here Comes Honey Boo Boo was cancelled, People confirmed Shannon's claim that she and Mark McDaniel hadn't dated for a decade, quoting McDaniel's son as saying "They are not dating, it's been ten years."

With the most publicly-upsetting issue settled, AMC Networks brought Mama June  — who's undergone a stunning transformation — back in 2017 for Mama June: From Not to Hot, which airs on WE tv. According to a press release, the show follows Shannon's journey through weight loss, and into the pageant world herself, bringing the Toddlers & Tiaras plot line full circle. It also showed that Shannon has ratings staying power, as the show averaged more than two million viewers during its first season, with "steady ratings growth throughout." AMC also trumpeted that Mama June: From Not to Hot was consistently the top program on Friday night cable television among women.