Reality Bites

Reality Bites: Bristol Palin: Life's A Tripp

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.

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Peter Vonder Haar writes movie reviews for the Houston Press and the occasional book. The first three novels in the "Clarke & Clarke Mysteries" - Lucky Town, Point Blank, and Empty Sky - are out now.
Contact: Pete Vonder Haar