The history of Wiccans in reality television isn’t exactly stellar. You had Fiona Horne’s starring role in “Mad Mad House”, “scary” Mary O’Leary from the UK version of “Big Brother”, the Eckhart family on the never-aired show “Welcome to the Neighborhood”, the vaguely Pagan-ish New Age D’Amico-Flisher family on “Trading Spouses” (which caused the now-famous freak-out by Christian mom Marguerite Perrin) and the infamous Wiccan priestess Donna Thompson on “Wife Swap”. So I’m always a little leery when I read about yet another Wiccan family signing up for the reality television merry-go-round.
The Hovey Family: Kendra, Tim, Alana, and Alec
“Television viewers, prepare to be shocked when you see what one Wiccan family on the South Shore does virtually undetected. They go out for ice cream. Among the reasons people willingly partake in reality TV shows, promoting religious tolerance isn’t high on the list. But for the Rev. Kendra Vaughan Hovey, elder high priestess of Duxbury’s First Church of Wicca, and her husband, Tim, it’s the sole reason they agreed to star in an episode of a new series on The Learning Channel called “My Unique Family.” For the entire month of October, the Hoveys and their children Alec, 11, and Alana, 8, were filmed, followed and interviewed – at home, at church, going to work and, yes, even going out for ice cream. More than 200 hours of footage was compressed into the one-hour program scheduled to air at 10 p.m. Monday, Feb. 19.”
“They haven’t yet decided if they’ll do anything special when the show airs. One member of the congregation suggested watching together on a big-screen TV, but, the Hoveys said they’re still a little worried about whether they’ll be left smiling or doing damage control that night.”
As I have said before, reality programs (for the most part) aren’t looking to normalize outsider views and faiths, just to put them on (highly edited) display. A sanitized freak-show for our modern era. No matter how positive or good-intentioned there is always a touch of outlandishness inherent in these programs, and while I always hope for the best I’m sure there was a reason the show picked a priestess who insists on wearing a Christian clerical collar.
Then again, you’ll also note they picked a Wiccan tradition that is following a congregational model (200-strong according to Rev. Hovey) instead of the more traditional coven structure. So perhaps this might be a rare normalizing effort on the part of TLC. I guess we will just have to wait and see what the show’s editors decided to portray.