Reality television star Mama June has been entertaining her fans for the past five seasons, in her own TV series called “Mama June: From Not To Hot,” which premiered in 2017 on the TLC network. It revolves around her weight-loss journey from being a heavy mama of 460lbs, over 200kgs, to a healthier and much lighter 160lbs, about 70kgs; her dysfunctional family including her daughters and boyfriends played a huge part in her transformation. Since its inception, the show has been rebranded twice, as “Mama June: Family Crisis” in 2020, and “Mama June: Road to Redemption” in 2021. The reason behind the changes was to incorporate into the narrative of the series her arrest for possession of drugs, as well as her attempts to get sober and clean.
- 1 Get to know Mama June’s life before the reality-TV fame
- 2 Mama June’s reality-TV journey
- 3 “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” (2012 to 2014)
- 4 “Mama June: From Not To Hot” (2017 to present)
- 4.1 The premise of the show
- 4.2 How the decision to lose weight started?
- 4.3 Asked for medical intervention and had a sleeve gastrectomy
- 4.4 Mother and daughter entered a beauty pageant
- 4.5 Drug addiction and arrest
- 4.6 The daughters stayed away from Mama June
- 4.7 Rebranded the show to “Mama June: Road to Redemption”
- 4.8 A new best friend in her life in 2022
Get to know Mama June’s life before the reality-TV fame
The matriarch of the Shannon family has been likened to the matriarch of the internationally- famous Kardashian-Jenner family, Kris Jenner.
It wasn’t because they‘ve acquired the same amount of money, popularity, social status, and beauty, but more on having daughters as reality-TV stars, becoming involved with various men, and having that sheer determination of using media for their own relevancy. Some people have called Mama June the red-necked hillbilly’s version of Kris Jenner. Get to know her life before reality television.
June Edith “Mama June” Shannon was born on 10 August 1979, in McIntyre, Georgia USA. At the very young age of two, her parents Marvin Shannon and Sandra Hundley divorced, but she has three siblings, Joanne, Joanie and James Edward. Through her father, she also has half-sisters named Nicole and Michelle. She had a controversial childhood, as she gave birth at the age of 14 to a daughter she named Anna, and so didn’t finish high school because of her pregnancy but eventually earned her GED.
Later on, she persistently dated men with questionable characters.
The father of her second and third daughters, Jessica and Lauryn “Pumpkin” Shannon, was Michael Anthony Ford, who was convicted of sexual abuse and imprisoned. Next, she dated Mark McDaniel, who was revealed to have abused her eldest daughter, and for a time was thought to be the father of Pumpkin. Her fourth daughter, Alana “Honey Boo Boo” Thompson, was fathered by Mike “Sugar Bear” Thompson, who turned out to be the most decent of all of her exes, but the reason for their separation in 2014 was that he was a serial cheater.
Mama June’s reality-TV journey
TV shows such as “American Idol” launched many careers, and have changed the lives of many people. It inspired producers to create reality-TV focused on competitions, including child beauty pageants such as “Toddlers and Tiaras” aired on the TLC network; fans became fascinated with one of its contestants, Alana “Honey Boo Boo” Thompson. Mama June, on the other hand, became as equally infamous as her daughter, when it was revealed that she made Alana drink a beverage she called the “go-go juice.”
It became controversial, as it was made of Mountain Dew and Red Bull, to make her six-year-old daughter active and alert as they went around the pageant circuit – the TLC network creative team knew they found the perfect family to be their next reality-TV stars. True enough, the Shannon family became the newest TV rating magnet for the network with TV shows such as “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” in 2012, and “Mama June: From Hot to Not” in 2017. Mama June’s controversies made them buzz-worthy, and gave them a lot of media mileage that led to guest appearances on many popular TV shows.
“Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” (2012 to 2014)
After the Shannon family garnered interest after appearing in “Toddlers and Tiaras,” particularly Mama June, the TLC executives gave them their own reality-TV show called “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo.”
The premise of the show
Alana became known as Honey Boo Boo to the public, not because Mama June named her that, but it was supposed to be a taunt to one of the contestants at the beauty pageant in “Toddlers and Tiaras,” then fans automatically called her Honey Boo Boo, and the name stuck. The show premiered in August 2012, and focused on the family’s adventures in their hometown. It gained criticism as the TV producers were portraying the family as some gross, red-neck country bumpkins – one episode opened with Mama June farting loudly. Some fans believed that most of the scenarios were staged; even the so-called conflicts were too forced to make the narrative interesting. One Forbes Magazine writer said, ‘TLC is trying its hardest to portray Alana’s family as a horde of lice-picking, lard-eating, nose-thumbing hooligans south of the Mason-Dixon line, but it’s not working.’
Dating scandal and cancelation of the show
In 2014, there were reports that Mama June was sighted dating Mark Anthony McDaniel Sr., who had been convicted of child molestation in 2004, and was incarcerated for 10 years – people were more shocked when it was rumored that she brought her daughters with her to meet the man. She initially denied it, but eventually her eldest daughter, Anna-Marie, confirmed that she was the one who was molested when she was only eight years old. TLC canceled the show in October 2014, even though they’d already filmed enough episodes for another season. The show lasted for just four seasons, plus a two-hour special aired in April 2017, entitled “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo: The Lost Episodes” consisting of four unaired episodes.
Shifted the blame on her failures and claimed that the show was canceled for other reasons
When Mama June appeared on the show “Dr. Phil,” she denied that she was dating Mark Anthony, as she only met him twice after the sex offender was released from prison.
The first time was by accident when she was on a weekend trip in the mountains, and the second time was when she gave him more than 30 packs of diapers for his son. She brought one of her daughters to meet him, because she claimed that Mark Anthony helped her raise Pumpkin until she was five years old. Her purpose was to explain to her daughter why he left the family at that time, however, she made it clear that he wasn’t the father of Pumpkin – that was another sex offender who’s serving his sentence until 2026.
She told everyone that she wasn’t aware that Anna-Marie was molested when she was a child, that her daughter had never opened up about it. The fans found it quite ridiculous that she spoke of trying to make amends with her daughter for having failed her, but at the same time said that her eldest daughter wasn’t really telling the truth all the time.
At the end of the show, she shared that the scandal wasn’t the reason the TV show was canceled, but was because the girls were getting tired, and started to show that they didn’t want to film anymore. Mama June said that the production crew asked her if they wanted to stop doing the show, insinuating that she had a hand in the cancelation decision.
“Mama June: From Not To Hot” (2017 to present)
The TLC executive knew that many people were still very much interested in the Shannon family, most especially in the controversial Mama June. They offered her family another spin-off series called “Mama June: From Not To Hot”, which made its television debut on 24 February 2017, this time focused on Mama June’s weight-loss transformation.
The premise of the show
Aside from her infamous “Go-go Juice,” Mama June became a controversial reality-TV star, due to her choices of men and her dating history. The producers chronicled her weight-loss transformation, after she supposedly got rid of her former husband, kicking him out of her house.
She bought a new house in her hometown for her daughters using all her savings, and then focused on losing weight. She said goodbye to many things in her life, including people who didn’t treat her right, along with the fats in her body, and the show documented all of it, including her weight-loss surgery.
How the decision to lose weight started?
Mama June’s ex-husband, Mike “Sugar Bear” Thompson, invited her to his wedding, and that gnawed at her. She didn’t want her husband back, having already realized that the only reason they stayed together for 11 years was that she wanted a complete family for their daughter, Alana. However, it didn’t mean that she was ready to see him date, let alone marry someone else. It didn’t help that her niece teased her that the reason Sugar Bear invited her, was to tell her that it was her loss when she divorced him. It prompted Mama June to start on her “revenge diet” -her goal wasn’t to be skinny, but to be normally healthy for her age. At that time, she had only 44 weeks to show up in good shape for her ex-husband’s wedding.
She even registered on a dating app, to have someone hot as her date for the wedding. However, her first date turned into a nightmare, when the guy left her in the middle of the date without explaining anything. When the producers went after him in the parking lot, he said that upon learning that she already has kids and grandkids, he knew it wouldn’t work between them, so he nipped it in the bud and didn’t want to continue with the farce.
Asked for medical intervention and had a sleeve gastrectomy
Mama June almost stopped her revenge diet after that disastrous date, but her manager named Gina encouraged her to continue her plans. She even told Mama June to ask for medical intervention, since weight-loss surgery is now available and it could help achieve her goal. Gina had her meet a bariatric surgeon in Los Angeles, and June chose to have sleeve gastrectomy instead of a gastric bypass, because it was less complicated.
The surgery was successful, and after that, she went on a strict liquid diet.
About 13 weeks after the surgery, she weighed around 295lbs, meaning she’d lost close to 60lbs. Her weight-loss journey wasn’t easy, and it didn’t help that she didn’t have a good relationship with her ex-husband and his new wife, Jennifer. However, through it all, she was able to get her weight down to 160lbs at the latest.
Mother and daughter entered a beauty pageant
In 2018, Alana encouraged Mama June to enter a local beauty pageant with her, saying that it was a great way to tell everyone that she’d been maintaining her weight. They both prepared for the event, and even had a pageant coach to help them go through it. On the competition day, they felt the pressure especially after they screwed the talent portion. Alana comforted and encouraged her mother backstage, as she said, ‘Mama, I love you. We got this.’ Mama June was shocked to hear her daughter say ‘I love you’ and said that she was already the winner that night. They ended with the first runner-up trophy, and were so happy with it. Mama June said that she was glad that they did it together.
Drug addiction and arrest
Everything seemed to be going great for the Shannon family until the end of the third season of “Mama June: From Not To Hot.” Apparently, her family believed that Mama June needed outside help to wean her off her substance abuse, because if not, she ‘may end up in the slammer or a coffin’. Alana was afraid to stay at their own house with the way things were going with her mom and her boyfriend Geno Doak. Her other daughter, Pumpkin, posted on her social media, ‘A child’s shoulders were not built to bear the weight of their parent’s choices.’
Mama June acknowledged that she had a problem, and vowed to get help. She checked into a rehab center, but after just staying 12 hours in the facility, she checked herself out, with Geno picking her up. They went to have fun at the Victor Land casino, but when they went home, they were arrested by police.
The two had fought inside a car while getting gas from an Alabama gas station, and someone called the police to report a domestic incident. When the police arrived, they were both arrested for possession of a controlled substance, along with drug paraphernalia, and her boyfriend on additional charges, including domestic violence. She was patted down and the police found a glass pipe with white residue in one of her pockets. A needle was discovered on the floorboard of the car, and a bottle with a white substance believed to be crack cocaine in the glove compartment. She was later released, and is waiting for a hearing.
The daughters stayed away from Mama June
Due to her drug habit, Mama June lost practically all her savings, and even had dealings with rough people, that her daughter felt threatened as well. Alana and Pumpkin didn’t have any choice but to stay far away from their mother; they didn’t even tell her where they went. Her daughters only learned from Facebook that Mama June sold all their stuff, along with their house.
Alana’s father wanted to full custody of her, but Pumpkin fought hard to get custody of her sister, and won – Alana stayed with Pumpkin and her husband Josh through it all. They blamed Geno for everything that happened to their mother. He’d started as a great father figure to them, and they never thought that he’d end up like that. They were frustrated that their mother had chosen Geno and drugs over them.
Rebranded the show to “Mama June: Road to Redemption”
In 2020, both Mama June and Geno sought help to become sober. The family was reunited, but so much had happened that Mama June lost the trust of her daughters. They were all waiting for the result of her court hearing, and were worried about what the future held for their mother. Pumpkin told her that she couldn’t live in her house no matter what. With a baby and a toddler to take care of along with Alana, who was still a minor, no one can blame Pumpkin for rejecting her mother’s request. By August 2021, Mama June and Geno were no longer together.
Mama June didn’t get prison time, and was only sentenced to 100 hours of community service; Geno wasn’t as lucky and was sentenced to 16 months. Her children continuously feared that their mother would relapse, and fail the regular mandatory tests ordered by the court.
A new best friend in her life in 2022
While the TLC network hasn’t renewed the TV show for the sixth season, Mama June seemed to be busy with a new man in her life. She was reportedly dating a TikTok influencer, Jordan McCollum. It would have been great if the man has a positive effect on her, but the family was worried that Jordan could impede her progress. Some rumors surfaced that she’d bought him a new car, and treated him to a fancy vacation in Las Vegas. However, Mama June denied that they were dating, saying that whatever they had was just platonic. Through social media, Jordan shared photos of his girlfriend, which corroborated whatever Mama June told everyone about their friendship.
If you’re interested, you probably won’t have to wait too long for further developments in the life of Mama June!