I watched Sarah Palin's Alaska, hoping to indulge in snarky fun, swapping snide comments with my husband. Sure, we chuckled when she said her daughter liked "socialization" with her peers. Yes, my ovaries shriveled when, after Todd Palin caught a salmon for dinner, she said, "He brings home the bacon, as it should be." When teenage Willow's boyfriend was chased out of the girl's bedroom, I was dubious of the effort to protect the second daughter's virtue in the light of what happened with the first.
By the the middle of the program, ridiculing Palin's syntax, diction and ripe makeup lost its joy. I started to feel depressed. This is supposed to be a travel/celeb show, but it came off like an agenda-pushing political ad for the Tea Party. Palin got in comments about immigration (build a fence, like she did to repel a nosy neighbor). She must have said "Mama Grizzlies" five times, even though no actual grizzly bears appeared on the program (brown bears did; perhaps Palin would like to build a fence around them?). The truly nauseating last segment dramatized Sarah overcoming her fear of heights to climb a rock. Would she succeed? Could she dig deep in her Alaskan fortitude, and make it to the top? The suspense was unbearable. TLC has provided yet another show about extra-large Christian families in rural communities, and expects viewers to applaud. They probably will.
Palin can get away with EIGHT HOURS of reality TV about her moxie and reliance because she's not currently holding a political office, nor actively campaigning for one. She has no opponent who could, by law, demand reciprocal exposure, northern or otherwise. Candidates ordinarily have to pay for airtime. Not-yet-running Palin is getting paid for hers. I give her credit for hardly anything, but she deserves props for this. She quit her job as governor, so that she could do a reality TV show (premiering weeks after the midterm elections) to advertise herself and set up her presidential bid in 2012. Mark my words: She'll announce her intentions within six weeks of the finale of Alaska, which will hammer home the Palin narrative of grit, guns and God. Although I adore "What Not to Wear," I might have to stop watching TLC completely.