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Decoding 'Sarah Palin's Alaska': Spoiled by family love

Having watched three full episodes of “Sarah Palin’s Alaska,” I am still amazed that Palin seems to interact with her family the exact same way she interacts with the American public: by continually saying anything that will appeal to her fan base, regardless of how frequently and spectacularly the facts contradict her interpretation of reality. Or, in the case of the most recent episode, how frequently and spectacularly her own children do.

1. This is America, and we speak English! No, seriously, we do.

As 9-year-old Piper assembles the ingredients for cake from a mix, Sarah becomes concerned about possible excessive egginess and tells her to recheck the instructions. After Piper confirms that she’s done everything correctly, her still dubious mother glances at the recipe and does a double take. “It’s in Spanish!” Well, no wonder her red-blooded, American, hardworking, tax-paying third-grader can’t figure out how many huevos to include! Except ...

Piper: No, it’s not. [Points at the box to distinguish it from the imaginary one Sarah just read.] “Three eggs.”

Sarah: Oh. You’re right.

2. What every teenage girl really wants is the gift of a loving family -- or a car.

Right from the beginning of the episode, Sarah repeatedly reminds us that Willow’s 16th birthday is on or about the Fourth of July, so there will be a grand, patriotic Palin party to honor the middle child in front of her extended family and Mom’s camera crew. Isn’t that thrilling? Won’t it make Willow feel special? “We don’t want the kids to be so materialistically spoiled,” Sarah says, “but we want them spoiled in terms of knowing what family love and camaraderie and teamwork is all about. So a party like this, with all the family together and celebrating her birthday, it means a lot to us.”

Well, all of us except Willow, who tells the camera, “I don’t like birthdays, personally. I don’t like attention on me.”

As for not being “materialistically spoiled,” Willow reports that she got “some clothes” and “some money” for her birthday, “but I really wanted a truck. I don’t know why my parents didn’t get it for me, ‘cause I’m a really good kid!” Sing it, sister. I was a ridiculously well-behaved honor student, and I must have asked for my own horse, like, 100 times, but my parents never came through. Twenty years later, I’m still trying to figure that one out.

3. Hard work is the only path to success in life, unless your parents bail you out.

The main storyline in this episode is about 21-year-old Track demonstrating that he’s ready to take over his father’s salmon fishing business. Sarah explains, “It’s very important to remember that the more successful fisherman is gonna be the harder working fisherman. The harder you work, the more money you’re gonna make, the more fish you’re gonna be able to pick. That, again, is a life lesson that so many should and could be learning.” Ahem, poor people. Did you catch that?

Unfortunately for Sarah, the folks who could stand to learn that lesson include her firstborn, who’s shown sleeping in while that voice over plays. Here are some other things Track does to prove he’s prepared for adult responsibility: flattens a tire on his father’s boat trailer and doesn’t think to mention it to anyone, much less change it; leaves an unholy mess in the boat shed, which his parents and baby sister eventually clean up; makes a mistake that almost loses him a net full of salmon; back-talks his father repeatedly; catches very few fish.

At one point, Todd starts bossing his bumbling son around -- which Track appreciates about as much as being woken up to go to work -- and I think we’re meant to see this as some sort of universal coming-of-age father/son tension. But since the whole episode has reinforced the message that Track is basically lazy and incompetent, I was cheering for Todd all the way. 

Nevertheless, Sarah says at the end, “We’re really proud to have learned that our son was ready to captain the site and take over.” Um, I guess that happened off-camera? Or maybe it’s just that if you’re Sarah Palin, what matters is the words you choose to repeat ad nauseam, not how people actually behave.

“I’m very blessed to get to be a part of this lifestyle,” she says in a final voice over. “You know, it’s all about family for us, and it’s all about teaching kids a strong work ethic, and being together, and being productive.”

When you hear something like that over shots of Sarah snuggling her adorable youngest child, the older kids looking cheerful and attractive and the Alaskan wilderness being all fierce and majestic, you almost want to believe it.

-- Kate Harding

Photo: The Palin family: Track, left, Piper, Willow, Bristol, Sarah, Trig, Trip and Todd Palin. Credit: Gilles Mingasson / TLC

Comments () | Archives (38)

Here's an idea if you don't like Sarah Palin don't watch the show. Some of us rather enjoy the show, and some of us don't follow the flock of sheep known as Palin haters.
If you want something less family oriented go watch the trash on Jersey Shore.

Sing it sister!
I totally agree. I like the Palins as humans, but i totally feel like Sarah is treating this show like an 8hr election commercial, pandering to her own family. But she does it so seemlessly, it makes me wonder if maybe she's truly just like that.
No mention of her tearing up over Matthew and of WIllolw saying she wants to be just like her?

like her or not, the show's pretty cool.

@John | November 29, 2010 at 11:54 AM

The Palins is a TRASH!! no better than Jersey Shore (I never watched both of them)

Whether you like Palin or not, this one of the worst shows ever. I feel sorry for her kids being dragged into this disaster.

Someone hates Sarah Palin and anyone with a hint of conservative view points: yawn.

Who does America respect more; a two-year governor who is one of the people, or a two-year senator who thinks he knows better than the people?

" Some of us rather enjoy the show, and some of us don't follow the flock of sheep known as Palin haters"?

"Sing it sister! I totally agree"??

And then there's this one: "Who does America respect more; a two-year governor who is one of the people, or a two-year senator who thinks he knows better than the people?"?

Holy cow, people. Get a clue--Sarah Palin is clueless. Don't you be, too.

Wow. Y'all are sad.

Mrs Palin keeps harping about "work". Tell me again - which one of the Palins has a JOB ..... ?

Sarah Palin = Snooki Polizzi

stoopids for sara!!! duh.

Unless you are you are a twinkie, this show is going to probably bore you.

Interesting that if you don't like the show, that you are automatically considered a Palin hater though.

Does that mean if you like the show you're brainless?

Well, unlike your family, which undoubtedly would look and act much more to your liking, the Palins are a regular family. Since you hang around with the super narcissists and are probably one yourself, its obvious from your comments that the Palins don't fit into your vision of a normal family. And that is the Hollywood version of family which we all would be well to emulate, right? (Kardashians, etc.)
Sarah Palin supporters do not care if you like the show. We think you are irrelevant to the world. However, if you venture out and take shots at Sarah or her family, then you need to realize that misfits from LA are regarded as just that by the vast majority of America.

"Who does America respect more; [sic] a two-year governor who is one of the people, or a two-year senator who thinks he knows better than the people?"

I would guess that it's the two-year president who got more votes than the quitter.

Yawn!!! Boring..... no matter if you are for or against Ms. Palin.

I think the show is meant to be entertainment that must be why it is on TLC not a a major news outlet right? Plus lets give the kid a break he is 20 something of course he cant do things good enough for his parents. As far as the girl not getting the car she wants and her complaining make her materialistic find me a 16 year old who doesnt ask for a car. I also think it is nice the family is traveling Alaska and showing everything that is done there by hard working people. As far as i can tell both Palins have jobs....after all the entire episode was about the fact that they are commercial fisherman and last time i checked she has written at least 3 books. Between that and what they make from her appearances i would say they have plenty of money to travel the state.

I disagree with 100% of what come from Sarah Palin, but I watched the show and Todd really impressed me on the boatload of Salmon he caught. It was interesting to see. As for Sarah she is in constant political mode, which makes the her role on the show look like a prop instead of reality.

But no one can deny that Todd knows what he is doing when it comes to fishing.

I don't think hating or not hating Palin has anything to do with liking or disliking this show. The show is horrible. The fact that she said that her oldest has the work ethic to take over, while SHOWING the obvious opposite, just proves what the author of this article states. I don't like Palin, but I watched the show anyways for the entertainment value. I wasn't impressed. Come on, she couldn't tell the difference between spanish and english on a box of cake mix? The woman doesn't do much for her reputation on this show. And her appearances and book deals does not make a job. It may make her money, but she quit her job half way thru. Couldn't bother herself finishing it. And she hasn't proved herself that worthy of a mother either.
Oh well. I gave it a shot. It's just a television show. I don't have to (and won't) watch it anymore. No skin off my back. I do hope it's one of those quickly cancelled television shows. Why keep paying her for something that makes her look as ridiculous as she is?

OF COURSE she's like that. This is the real Sarah -- all narcissistic, delusional, paranoid, craven inch of her.

Wake up and smell the tea, folks!

Todd is the only one in that family who is halfway tolerable. And, as someone else pointed out, he's the only one who knows how to work for a living.

I watched the first episode out of curiosity and found it lame, contrived and political.

As for those who have written comments, you have the same mindset that Sarah has, so you are probably ardent fans of this woman.

I do not hate anyone! Got it? I do not respect Sarah Palin because as someone who checks facts, I know that more times than not, she does not tell the truth. She is uninformed except in sound bites with no substance. I do not respect her as a mother. Her first three have been in serious trouble, Piper is an elementary school drop out thanks to her mother dragging her all over the lower 48; and the worst, she used Trig as a prop during the campaign and the book signings. No matter what your political views, you did not see such exploitation with the Bushes or the Clintons. In fact you can go all the way back to the Kennedy's.

BTW this is the second book she has written and the crowds aren't showing up for this one, like they did the first one. Maybe some people out there are seeing her for what she really is.

My goodness! Can you see the Palins in the Oval Office for the Presidential Christmas Family Portrait? Sarah looking around trying to figure out why the room is called"oval" office. Todd turning to an aid and asking if the living quarters can be completely separated and blocked from the rest of the White House. He quietly whispers to Sarah " This is truly a white house now." Piper is licking the desk. Willow is holding the baby as a young mother might. Bristol has on her Dancing with the Stars low cut, back out, fringed dress. Track is nodding in a corner some where. God please help America!

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