TLC’s reality TV juggernauts aren’t just baking cakes, wearing tiaras, or counting their 19 kids. They’re also speaking out on the presidential race, gay rights, and abortion. Here’s where the stars of Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, Cake Boss, and others stand.
Toddlers wearing tiaras, sister wives, hoarders, little people in a big world, bosses of cake, even Palins: they’re all part of the electorate. On the occasion that a possible election kingmaker, a 7-year-old who goes by the name Honey Boo Boo has made her endorsement—“Marack Obama”—here’s a survey of how the stars of What Not to Wear, Sister Wives, and more of TLC’s reality TV hits stand politically.
‘Here Comes Honey Boo Boo’
Time to adjust those odds, Nate Silver. Alana Thompson aka Honey Boo Boo aka America’s Most Political 7-Year-Old Aspiring Pageant Queen With Her Own Reality TV Series officially threw her support to Barack Obama during an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live. Cruelly reminded by the late-night host that Mitt Romney named Snooki, not Ms. Boo Boo, his favorite reality TV personality, the pint-sized pride of Georgia harrumphed that she prefers “Marack Obama.” Kimmel pulled his best Candy Crowley with a follow-up on whether there was a way for Romney to win her vote back, but Boo Boo was too preoccupied making faces at herself to an off stage camera.
‘19 Kids and Counting’
Jim Bob Duggar and his wife, Michelle, are utterly fascinating reality TV specimens, what with their 19 kids (and counting) and superhuman ability to go minutes without blinking. Their political history is equally of interest. Jim Bob himself served in the Arkansas House of Representatives from 1999 to 2002, and lost two subsequent primary elections for U.S. Senate (in 2002) and Arkansas State Senate (in 2006). They also have lent the heft of their expansive brood and burgeoning public profile to an array of polarizing candidates, including Mike Huckabee in 2008, Rick Santorum during the recent Republican primary, and, most recently, Todd Akin—of “legitimate rape” fame—for Missouri senator. Michelle called it “ludicrous” for the Susan G. Komen Foundation to stand by Planned Parenthood, saying she’s “appalled” by the organization’s abortion practices. In this clip, they discuss their entrance into politics.
Kody Brown, his four wives, and their 17 children insist that, unlike Mitt Romney, they are not Mormons. They are fundamentalist Mormons. “If you make the comparison between me and Mitt Romney, you will find the same roots but completely different religions,” Kody says. His wives say they appreciate that Romney is, like them, spotlighting the normality of a Mormon lifestyle, but other statements on gay marriage hint that they may actually be Team Obama. “I think we should be able to marry who we love,” Christine Brown says. “As a Christian, I believe it is my duty, responsibility and desire to love everybody regardless of their choices. I don’t know how I could raise my children in this world without raising them open-minded and if I want my children to be open-minded, then I have to be open-minded as well.” After all, she says, with the endorsement of her sister wives, how could they ask not to be judged for their unconventional lifestyle if they judge others’?
‘Kate Plus 8’
Kate Gosselin, the Octomom before it was cool, has never been press-shy about promoting her reality series Jon and Kate Plus 8 and Kate Plus 8, about raising her set of sextuplets and older twin girls; her stint on Dancing With the Stars; her dating life; her makeover; what she ate for breakfast that morning. But rarely in her thousands of interviews has the reality TV maven-turned failed coupon blogger spoken about politics. Her participation in a very special—read: train wreck—episode of Sarah Palin’s Alaska betrays at least some affinity for the former vice-presidential candidate, though Gosselin and her brood did end up running away screaming from Wasilla. Back in April, the mother of eight apparently dipped her toe in political waters when she retweeted a message from Personage Florida’s account: “#Abortion has killed over 27,000,000 preborn girls. Think abortion advocates care about women? #prolife #tcot.” It appears that Gosselin has since deleted the tweet, though two Twitter archiving sites show records of her giving it an “RT” endorsement five months ago.
‘What Not to Wear’
Echoing the opinions of any fashion consultant with even remotely good taste, What Not to Wear hosts Stacy London and Clinton Kelly have gone on record raving about at least one thing related to the Obamas: Michelle’s impeccable sense of style. In one episode, they tack on the challenge of transforming a drab fashion-insecure duckling into a stylist Michelle Obama-esque swan. It’s also not hard to surmise where at least one of the hosts stands on a key campaign issue. Considering that Kelly wed husband Damon Bayles in 2009, a year after same-sex marriage was legalized in the state, it’s probably safe to say he’s in favor of gay marriage.
‘Bristol Palin: Life’s a Tripp’
The cat’s out of the bag, everyone. Bristol Palin, daughter of former GOP vice-presidential nominee, is a conservative. But she’s also been outspoken—or, at least, the media’s been outspoken about her—on a number of specific issues. For one, she’s pro-life, as she trumpeted in 2010 on the cover of In Touch. Things are a bit murkier with her stance on gay rights. In an ugly incident during the filming of Life’s a Tripp, Palin confronted a heckler at a bar who insulted her mother, asking if his behavior was “because you’re a homosexual … because I can tell you are.” Gossip blogs also seized on a clip from the series in which her 3-year-old son calls someone a “faggot,” a term he must have heard at least a few times before in order to repeat. Palin defended herself against accusations of homophobia during a Dancing With the Stars press conference: "I'm not a homophobic. And I’m so sick of people saying that. Just because I’m for traditional marriage doesn’t mean I’m scared or anything of anyone else. I don’t hate anybody.”
Brassy Cake Boss star Buddy Valastro was forced to make his opinion public on at least one campaign issue—gay rights—though it took a scandalous incident to bring his thoughts to light. In one episode, Valastro “pranks” his cousin by hiring a transgender woman, Carmen Carrera, to seduce him, setting him up for the big reveal: “That’s a man, baby!” When someone on Twitter teased the cousin, he called her “it.” Accusations of transphobia flooded in, GLAAD complained, and a petition circulated imploring TLC not to rerun the episode. In an apology to Carrera and the LGBT community, Valastro came out in support of gay rights: “I was wrong to use the words I did. I am a supporter of gay rights and equality, and while I regret this situation and my choice of words, I am thankful to have received this feedback and the opportunity to learn from this mistake.”