Many people were worried when they heard that Sarah Palin was doing a reality show about living in Alaska. Wouldn’t it just be one long network-sponsored advertisement for the former governor’s possible presidential bid? After all, Palin has shown herself to be nothing if not media savvy.
Those people should not have worried: After watching TLC’s premiere of Sarah Palin’s Alaska, we’re pretty sure the program is trying harder to sell you on the majestic beauty of both its subjects than any sort of political ideology.
Despite one clunky reference to “Momma Grizzlies” (made while actually watching grizzly bears swim dangerously close to their boat), Sarah Palin is perfectly content to be a reality show star, not a political figure. And why blame her? As we see in the premiere, Alaska (at least in the summertime, when the show was filmed), is totally gorgeous. Why would she want to leave her giant house and her homemade studio for punditing with Bill O’Reilly to go live in Washington, D.C.? If she did, the show implies, she wouldn’t be able to spend literally every day rock climbing, ice-fishing, flying in helicopters, and spending time with her mute husband Todd while totally ignoring the budding sexuality of daughter Willow. (In an amazingly telling segment, Sarah puts up a gate on the stairs so Willow’s male friend can’t go up to her room. She then goes and sits by the computer checking her email as the boy steps over the gate. We wonder if this was the same gate meant to keep Levi Johnson out of Bristol’s room.)
In fact, why talk about her daughter’s relative attractiveness at all, when Willow obviously doesn’t want to be on camera? “She’s a teenager, so she’s more interested in socialization than work,” Sarah sighs while adjusting her own short-shorts to reveal taut, deeply-tanned thighs. Same goes for her husband: When asking Todd for help before a TV segment, Sarah asks how many people he’d have to let go from his company if these tax cuts go through. “It’s just a roll of the die,” Todd replies with the cryptic wisdom of Buddha, or someone who doesn’t know what numbers are.
So no, Sarah Palin’s Alaska is not an insideous show designed to get you to vote for Sarah Palin, because reality show stars rarely make it to the Oval Office. Instead, we are watching an hour long commercial for how beautiful both Sarah Palin and her home state is. And for a former beauty pageant queen, who could ask for anything more?