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Decoding 'Sarah Palin's Alaska': What we learned when Sarah met Kate + 8

21239_2107 There are certain ideas that sound brilliant to reality TV producers, and to no one else in the world. "Conveyor Belt of Love." "Fat March." The all-too-straightforwardly named "Hurl." And now we can add: Kate Gosselin and her eight children join the Palin family on a camping trip in bear country. What could possibly go wrong?

Actually, not much does. The kids have a blast until their cold, whiny mother insists that they leave, an outcome that could have been predicted by anyone who has ever been camping. Or seen people camping on TV. Nevertheless, the show, as always, has valuable lessons to teach us.

1. If you love your kids, you’ll shoot to kill.

The first half of the episode is devoted to lessons in bear safety, the procurement of an enormous new gun for Palin, and a lot of remarks like this one: “Bein’ out and about in Alaska’s wilds, it’s more common than not to see somebody having some kind of weapon on their person. In fact, it’s probably as commonplace as if you’re walkin’ down the street in New York City and you see somebody with a BlackBerry on their hip.”

At this point, I have some questions. Like, do people still carry phones on their hips, or was that some kind of bizarre product placement/dog whistle mash-up, in which “BlackBerry” also means “imaginary illegal handgun that certain paranoid rural voters are sure all New Yorkers carry”? And when you’re out and about in Alaska’s wilds, how often do you see other people at all? And wait, didn’t you all say this show wasn’t an eight-hour political ad?

Palin answers that last one for us: “Even for those who, maybe on a political level, think they are anti-gun, they need to realize, if you are out in the wilderness -- and perhaps you’re with children -- camping, well, you’re putting yourself and your family in danger if you are not armed, if you are not prepared for a predator.” Sure, and that totally explains why your average suburban family needs a gun in the home. I mean, come on, does that really still work on anyone?

Yep! Kate Gosselin: “I can’t say I’m a gun advocate, necessarily, but there’s nothing I wouldn’t do to protect my kids.”

Except, say, refuse an invitation to take them camping in bear country for a reality TV stunt.

2. When your favorability rating is at an all-time low, it helps to hang out with someone the public finds even more odious than you.

Four words I never, ever, ever believed I would say: “Right on, Sarah Palin.” When she’s rolling her eyes and snarking about Gosselin’s completely predictable Oh my god, you meant outdoor camping? meltdown, it's awfully hard not to relate to her. 

3. But that only goes so far.

That brief moment of shared humanity was, of course, tempered by (among other things) Palin’s relentless lust for bear blood; the scene where she gently chides Piper for cheating on her homework but doesn’t actually insist that she stop; and the fact that once again, Mama Grizzly’s on vacation, banging on about the importance of spending time with loved ones, minus her youngest child. Perhaps this trip would have been unpleasant or unfeasible for Trig, but where I come from, parents usually plan “family vacations” that don’t require leaving a little kid behind. I guess that’s not how they do it in Alaska?

If that weren’t enough to undo my microsecond of appreciation for Sarah Palin, then there’s the fact that despite it all, she still has Kate Gosselin’s endorsement. “I admire her for being a strong woman who doesn’t back down, who doesn’t let the world’s opinion of her change her or get to her,” says Gosselin in an interview that could easily be from a “woman on the street” campaign commercial, if the woman on the street had Botox, a spray tan, and her own reality show.

I don’t suppose it’s occurred to either of them that when your approval rating is plummeting toward single digits, it might be worth giving the world’s opinion of you a second look.

-- Kate Harding

Photo: Kate Gosselin meets Trig Palin, carried by Willow Palin, as the Gosselin children climb aboard Todd Palin's plane at the Palins' house in Wasilla, Alaska. Credit: Gilles Mingasson / TLC

Comments () | Archives (64)

Actually, Alaska IS the easternmost state. It's also the westernmost and northernmost. Read on....

Perhaps, the author..finds Palin odious..I absolutley thinks she's a fantastic himan being..and an amazing woman..sorry, I find your attitude odious.

I think, Kate Gosselin got paid to act the idiot, so that Sarah Palin shows up more brave: Part of the political propaganda, promoting the Hero as future President. (Excuse my bad English)

Look at the Democratic media trying to work any story on Sarah. They keep going after Sarah so we forget about the leech in Washington sucking our pokets dry on yet another vacation. Yes Im talking about the ugly fish like thing in the WHITE house. Obammies wife.
My God that is one UGLY woman thing. Sarah is what we need in the WHITE house. At tleast it would imporve Americas image.

Why are you critiquing Palin re: gun ownership in the home? You're the one who brought it up, not her. And save your snarky comments about Alaskans' way of camping and supposedly leaving children behind. Did it ever occur to you that choosing to leave the baby behind is for reasons of safety?

Your critique comment re: "Blackberry on the hip" was also so ridiculous and showed your own lust (and desperation) to find something to slam Sarah Palin about. So she said it, big deal? She's in her 40s, and age that recalls phones on hips, which, yeah, some people still do.

You so need to get over yourself.

"where I come from, parents usually plan “family vacations” that don’t require leaving a little kid behind. I guess that’s not how they do it in Alaska?" Really? You had to use THAT to criticize Sarah Palin? You think this was really a family vacation? It's a reality show, which as we all know are not completely real. I see it as more of a job, not "reality." And anyways, what if he was sick, or, as we saw, the weather was not great for a toddler. Many young kids with Down Syndrome have other health problems as well. This writer's bias was evident throughout!

I am one of those Dems that happen to like Palin's Alaska and really thought Sarah took the high road on the camping adventure. The kids were having such a great time and Palin's Dad was so cool. To me the ultimate is in her childish manner she tells the kids because they didn't want to leave they were Palins now. What I would love to see is the entire uncut version of this one as I bet there are some zingers. Kate though was so rude about the Palin lifestyle - she should have behaved more like a guest and bene respectful rather than snarky about each aspect of their life. The smartest one of all --- Todd fishing.

I can't believe I'm sayin' this but, if I had to spend a day hanging with one of these people, I'd pick Palin. She's dumb but I just can't deal with bitchin' and moanin'. Kate is odious.

I was very disturbed when Kate was trying to convince her children to leave and she told one child who wanted to stay "fine, you are no longer a Gosselin, now you're a Palin." These poor children are being abused and manipulated. Then in another portion Kate was attempting to convince another child only to have the little girl say "FINE, ok I want to go home too then." So how often does Kate withdraw affection or deny the children their last name when she doesn't get what she wants? These poor babies are headed for rehab or jail or both.

It is obvious that the writer of this article is so blinded by her dislike of Sarah Palin that she has completely lost perspective. As a frequent viewer of Jon & Kate Plus 8, and dare I say more objective critic of Sara Palin, I have a different take. Alaska IS a different place where carrying a gun IS normal (who started the notion that it is uncivilized to protect yourself by having a gun in dangerous settings.) To criticize the phrase "carrying Blackberries on their hips...," does not mean she is a rural idiot. It is obvious what she meant. Give me a break. This "writer" needs to get her nose out of the air long enough to maybe learn something. The Palins were generous, gracious and patient with the Gosselins. They were humbly trying to share their experience of Alaskan camping with Kate and her kids (the kids, though unaccustomed to the elements, looked like they were having fun to me), and all Kate did was whine and complain and insult the Palins.

Kate was so immature or stupid "I don't get why people pretend to be homless"-WTF is she talking about secondly she was nasty and rude to the Palin family so I don't blame Piper for not wanting to say goodbye or any of the Palin's for that matter

Kate come on - your a journalist first. It's interesting I bet if Sarah was 75lbs over weight and ugly and only had two children she might, just might be acceptable. I hate to say this but us women can be soooo caddy. This program is great. Her message is of a true blooded American. She will become the face of Alaska.

Are all liberals trained at birth to be haters? Honest to cripes! You could be Ghandi but if he ever voted Republican he'd be a bad influence on the youth for promoting hunger strikes. If you are not liberal you are a stupid red neck.....we get it ok?

1/27/10 Guardian UK, latest poll by Nielson Media Research: "FOX MOST TRUSTED NEWS CHANNEL IN US"; Fox News 49%, CNN 39%, ABC 31%, CBS 32%, NBC 35%.

The major media are bankrupt, which is why they are going bankrupt.

All those giving snide remarks to the Times, please don't forget you're talking about a woman who proudly claimed that she could see Russia from her house.

She's damn stupid and an embarrassement to the country.

I recently started watching "Sarah Palin's Alaska" and I have to say it is now my favorite show. I watched her in the media and was not sure what to think of her, until her now. Now I know she is what all "Americans" should be " Independent, Self Reliant, Practice Provident Living, and I could go on"trust me. I live in Maine and I truly hope sarah runs for the big P in 2012.

For "nothing that she says or does should be taken as representing alaskans." does that include her choice to keep her unborn child when she found out he would have Downs Syndrome? I hope that DS.P. represents Alaskans in at least that one way.

We camped with our children in the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York. I am not a "country" girl but enjoyed very much seeing the world through my children's eyes. Kate is a vacuous, self-centered fool. I am sorry for her children. Maybe she will watch the show and realize how horrid she was to Sarah Palin & her family and --- her own children. Let's all hope for an "aha" moment for Kate.

I don't normally watch the show but I heard about this episode and couldn't resist when I saw it flipping through the DVR. All Sarah Palin opinions aside, I think that you went a little light on Kate. I seriously want to find her and punch her in the face. She's the most disgusting person I've ever watched on television, and that includes like evil fictional characters. She can not be at all excused for just "being out of her element." She was so incredibly rude it was amazing. I've never seen anything like it. The best of it was when she asked Sarah Palin's young son if he actually enjoys camping with an incredulous snotty look on her face. His crushed little confused face stabbed my heart a little bit. Something needs to be done about this woman. She's incredibly nasty, she's ruining her children's lives (who wanted to stay, poor things - but no, if you want to stay and hang out and not be completely rude and disrespectful you a "Palin" apparantly, not a "Gosselin." Way to raise those kids. No wonder two of them were expelled from school) and I can not Believe that she's getting paid for it all!! I've always hated her and the more I see of her, the more I do. You would think that you would get Better after watching yourself on National Television acting the way she has!!

Actually you CAN see Russia from an island in Alaska. The island is called Little Diomede and it sits a little less than 2 1/2 miles from from Big Diomede, which is in Russian territory. So yes, on a clear day you CAN see Russia from Alaska. So who is the dummy now? Also on that note, Alaska IS the farthest eastern U.S. state. Look it up before you say Sarah is stupid.

To the person who thought Palin was stupid for saying Alaska is the "easternmost" state:

Alaska is the state that is farthest north, east, and west while Hawaii is farthest south. The reason that Alaska is farthest east and west is due to the fact that the Aleutian Islands cross the 180° meridian of longitude, placing some of the islands actually in the Eastern Hemisphere and thus degrees east of Greenwich (and the Prime Meridian).

Of course, Palin should have explained that she was citing a factoid often mentioned by Alaskans (in a riddle fashion for out of state visitors), so that she wouldn't confuse those viewers who were not aware of that bit of quirky trivia.

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