Category: Sarah Palin's Alaska

Decoding 'Sarah Palin's Alaska': 'Work ethic is like the biggest life lesson'

Palin2 It’s time once again to look at the messages Sarah Palin and company are sending with her ostensibly apolitical new reality show. In this week’s episode, we visited the shooting range where Sarah’s girlfriends held her first baby shower and “the halibut capital of the world,” learning some Real Alaskan Life Lessons along the way.

1. As long as you keep talking about working hard and getting dirty, most people won’t think too hard about what you actually do for a living.

Sarah and Bristol set out for “a mother-daughter day of commercial fishing” so the younger Palin can, in her mother’s words, “get back to some of that sweat-of-the-brow, blue collar, tough work that she is really used to doing.” Really? A few highlights from the “Career” section of Bristol Palin’s Wikipedia entry: Founder of “BSMP, a lobbying, public relations and political consulting services firm”; guest star on “The Secret Life of the American Teenager”; abstinence spokesperson for the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy; and, oh yes, controversial finalist on “Dancing With the Stars.” To be fair, though, I have no data on how many long years of “blue collar, tough work” Bristol might have done prior to age 17.

Bristol, meanwhile, informs us that she enjoyed seeing her mother club, gut, ice and scale freshly caught halibut, because “work ethic is like the biggest life lesson, and it’ll outline your kids’ future.” Never mind that this episode involved interrupting numerous hardworking Alaskans’ productivity to film these two going through the motions of manual labor for a couple of days. Or that Sarah mentioned right at the beginning of the episode that she gets up early because “a lot of [her] professional work is on East Coast time” -- that is, the work she does from that TV studio in her back yard. Or that she compared having fish guts hosed off her to getting a spray tan. Just an ordinary Alaskan, y’all.

2. Safety first! Well, right after protecting profits.

Sarah explains why the first order of business when faced with an enormous, freshly caught halibut is to knock the sucker out with a billy club: “You have to stun it, otherwise it’s gonna flop around and bruise its own meat.” Meat that goes for five or six bucks a pound, people! Oh, and p.s., a flopping fish that size is “also dangerous enough where it could slap somebody around and really injure a person.”

3. Big families are a blessing. Without them, you’d have to pay people to watch your toddlers while you have adventures.

Sarah and Todd’s youngest, Trig, gets dropped off at Grandma and Grandpa’s before the Palin “family vacation” even begins, and Bristol’s wee Tripp is presumably in the capable hands of Aunt Willow while Mommy learns the proper techniques for firing a rifle and bludgeoning a halibut. Being a busy political celebrity or a teen mom is no sweat when you’ve got half a dozen handy relatives to stash the rugrats with! Why didn’t these liberals whining about longer parental leave and universal day care have the foresight to surround themselves with free babysitters?

4. The antidote to media overexposure is more media exposure.

Sarah: “The last couple of years have been pretty challenging for Bristol because so often, what it is that she does ends up in the tabloids, because of someone that she had been associated with.” Well, at least you have to give the former governor credit for recognizing that it must be tough to be her daught... Oh wait, I think she’s talking about Levi. “So Todd and I really wanted to get her away from all of that and to refocus on what truly matters in her life.” Such as performing on her mother’s reality show!

A strong work ethic is nice and all, but I think this week Bristol learned an even more important life lesson: Having cameras follow your every move can be a good thing, as long as someone who loves you has an executive producer credit.

-- Kate Harding

Photo: Sarah Palin sorts fish in Homer, Alaska. Credit: Gilles Mingasson/TLC.

'Sarah Palin's Alaska' breaks TLC record with 5 million viewers for premiere


Sarah Palin has once again refudiated her detractors. The critics may not have loved her new TLC reality show, but the former Alaska governor proved she is ratings gold.

"Sarah Palin's Alaska" was the most-watched series launch in TLC history, with an average of 5 million total viewers tuning in to Sunday's premiere, according to early data from the Nielsen Co. That's not that far away from the 5.2 million viewers for the Season 2 premiere of MTV's hit "Jersey Shore" earlier this year.

True, the Palin audience did seem to skew a bit on the old side. Only 1.6 million viewers -- less than one-third of the total -- were in the advertiser-friendly demographic of adults age 18 to 49. That suggests that Palin may still have some work to do in connecting with younger voters -- er, viewers.

But Palin's show - which featured the former governor and her family engaged in such outdoorsy pursuits as salmon fishing and rock climbing -- reached a fairly wide audience despite some harsh reviews, many of which suggested that the TLC show was merely a campaign ad in advance of Palin's presumed 2012 presidential bid. The Times' Mary McNamara wrote that "Sarah Palin's Alaska" "sets a new standard for political ads."

-- Scott Collins

Photo: Sarah Palin addressing a rally in September. Credit: Ed Reinke / Associated Press



Decoding 'Sarah Palin's Alaska': Top 3 lessons from the debut episode

21239_0257 The claim that "Sarah Palin's Alaska" is a wholly apolitical travelogue-cum-family tableau, meant only to showcase the rugged beauty of our largest state and the just-folksiness of its former governor, lasts about five minutes into the first episode.

That's the point at which we learn that Sarah's enjoyment of working on the "cement slab" outside (naturally the Palins would have nothing so fancy-pants as a "patio") is hampered by the presence of a new neighbor, the writer Joe McGinniss, who's rented the house next door while researching what Todd Palin describes as a "hit piece" on his wife. Sarah explains that Todd's reaction to McGinniss' arrival was to get out there with his buddies and erect a 14-foot-high fence between the properties (as you do), and before I can finish writing "immigration analogy?" in my notes, she clarifies: "By the way, I thought that was a good example, what we just did, others could look at and say, 'Oh, this is what we need to do to secure our nation's border.'"

To be fair, that is the only overtly political remark Sarah makes in the first episode. There's still plenty of campaigning going on, most of it coming via metaphor, innuendo and sled-dog whistles. Sport fishing, for instance, provides an opportunity to empathize with recession victims: "The only thing more frustrating than not catching a fish," says Sarah, "is sitting there watching everyone else not catching a fish."

Negotiating a crevasse-pocked glacier offers an important lesson in unity: "If you're not roped together, you're gonna fall, and you may not stop." And even if she might run for president someday, Sarah Palin would like us to know she's not one of those off-putting, overly ambitious career gals or anything; she still believes in the old adage, "a poor day of fishin' beats even a great day of work."

There's plenty more to decode among the messages "Sarah Palin's Alaska" is sending to everyone else's America, and I'll be doing that each week after the show airs. Here are the top three lessons I learned from this episode:

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