There are a million reality shows on the naked television. We're going to watch them all, one at a time.
Members of both political parties are fond of trumpeting the virtues of the American Dream, that mythic end stage when a person is awarded for years of hard work and perseverance with prosperity. Theoretically.
We place less value on that kind of thing now, though. If reality programming is any indication, simply being undeservedly rich is often enough. Kim Kardashian isn't emblematic of any achievement based on ability -- maybe the Kardashians who first came over from Armenia, but certainly not any of the current crop. The Real Housewives milk their understandably absent husbands for Botox and vodka funds, while most of those Million Dollar Listing guys owe their plush real estate gigs to their parents.
And if you can't be rich, just be weirdos. The Pawn Stars are basically one step above grave robbers, and we apparently can't get enough of underaged kids eloping or human wreckage forcing their children to live out their failed dreams.
Sometimes, however, there is convergence of undeserved fame complemented by severe delusion. Welcome to the world of Bristol Palin, daughter of a once inexplicably popular governor and catapulted into the spotlight by virtue (?) of her own unintended teen pregnancy. The result, Bristol Palin: Life's a Tripp, is comically bad, a clueless endeavor so half-assed I doubt it'll last through an entire season.
You know, kind of like Mom's term as governor.
We open with a quick curriculum vitae, which consists of Dancing with the Stars, a memoir (at age 20), and that whole teen pregnancy thing. From there we endure some staged scenes between Bristol and her family about her going to California to work for charity. To be fair, I don't fault the rest of the Palin siblings for anything. Youngest sister Piper especially has spent almost her entire childhood enveloped in this nightmare, and oldest brother Track -- a U.S. Army Reservist and commercial fisherman -- has managed to keep himself almost completely free of the spotlight. That leaves Bristol, the single mom, and middle sister Willow, who ends up dragged to L.A. with the promise of "adventure," which apparently means "serving as your big sister's servant."
Mom Sarah thinks it's a good idea for Bristol to get out and "see the world"....didn't DWTS film in Los Angeles? Is she going to live in Riverside or something? She also reminds Bristol that "you have to read to Tripp every night." A tall order from the woman who reads all newspapers and magazines.
We also meet Bristol's latest boyfriend Gino, a chinbeard-sporting waterhead that makes Levi Johnston look like Pierce Brosnan. Thank Christ she's practicing abstinence, because I can't imagine the Idiocracy level progeny that would result from their spawning. It's another staged conversation that goes nowhere.
Bristol, Willow and Tripp are staying at one of her "mom's friend's houses" until she Bristol can find an apartment. The poor thing, forced to sleep in a hide-a-bed and share a bathroom for...what's that? The "house" is a Beverly Hills mansion that looks a lot like Vinnie Chase's pad in Entourage. Unsurprisingly, she says she's "feeling really good about her decision to move here."
But it's true that the culture shock is not to be believed. One of their first days in town, Bristol laments the lack of practical clothing choices. While shopping in Melrose Heights. She also reminds us that "being a single mom is the toughest job." And she's right, provided you're a single mom that doesn't command $15-30K speaking fees, or who's been on Dancing with the Stars. Or who movie into a fucking mansion. Or, or, or.
And then some guy gives her shit at a bar. This is a well-documented incident, and the funny thing is, this Stephen Hanks dude who hassles her at the bar is an idiot. Of all the legitimate criticisms that could be leveled at Sarah Palin -- her unfitness for leadership, her pandering to every conceivable group, her shitty movie -- and yet this stupid drunk opts for calling her a whore. Such cogent and well thought-out arguments will surely win many to your cause.
Finally, after an episode and a half, she makes it to the charity she's supposedly in town to work for, Help The Children. This is the young woman's first visit to "Skid Row," and after the experience, I can safely say my time spent walking past homeless on the Drag in college was more harrowing. In a genius move, the show's producers elect not to show her doing any actual volunteer work. The entire sum of her "volunteer activities" involve riding past the scary street people in a zipped up SUV. I guess some people need to get acclimated to interacting with the great unwashed, especially those who've never heard the expression "Skid Row."
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The debut episode's other source of tension (aside from Angry Drunk Gay Guy) is with Willow. Bristol complains about her younger sister not understanding the responsibilities of being a mom, maaaan. This is pretty ballsy coming from a mom who spent her first night in a new city riding mechanical bulls. Willow is a bit of a punk, true, but why should she be forced to watch her sister's kid? She eventually leaves, and Bristol gets upset, because of course now she's going to be booted from the house and forced to eke out an existence living in a station wagon by the aqueduct.
Or, she may just (spoiler warning) move back to Alaska.
If the soul-flensing experience of sitting through Life's a Tripp taught me anything, it's that we as a country may be done with the Palins. With Sarah bowing out of the 2012 election (and her actual job), Bristol apparently unwilling to spend much time away from her home state (and with the show unlikely to see a second season), and the other kids mostly (and wisely) avoiding the spotlight, maybe we can finally move on to the next political sideshow.
Fingers crossed that Mitt Romney picks Ted Nugent as his running mate.