Monday, November 15, 2010

Half-Baked Alaska

It's hard to image what, exactly, the intention could be behind the new reality series Sarah Palin's Alaska.

If she really has presidential aspirations -- and we know she does -- then why give us this intimate little glimpse into the Palin household? My guess is that the reasons are two-fold: first, she simply can't resist the revenue that her celebrity began generating just two years ago when John McCain tapped her as his vice presidential running mate. This is the woman, after all, who walked away from her role as governor of her supposedly beloved home state in mid-term -- a position that pays a paltry $125,000 a year. She's managed to rake in an estimated $12 to $15 million so far.

The second is that it provides an opportunity to project a carefully-controlled portrait of the Palin family. We see Sarah exposing her brood to the natural wonders of the Yukon -- not missing an opportunity to compare the local wildlife with her own "grizzly mama" persona, even though they were actually watching Alaskan brown bears. And we see her being the firm and attentive mom she'd like us to believe she is, telling daughter Willow that no boys are allowed upstairs in their home. Nice touch, considering that with daughter Bristol one definitely got through the gate.

What you won't see on Palin's reality program, however, is a heart-warming interaction between Sarah and her husband Todd. He coordinates the fishing trips and glacier hikes like some hired hand, but there's no sense of marital happiness here, because that kind of connection can't be scripted. She even has him build a hastily-constructed 14-foot-tall fence to block the view of the writer next door who Sarah says is working on a "hit piece" about her.

And the most appalling thing about the show? It was the biggest series premier in TLC's history, with over 5 million viewers.

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