“Alaska. I love this state like I love my family,” Sarah Palin declares at the start of her new TLC reality show Sarah Palin’s Alaska. That statement is immediately followed by a shot of two brown bears ferociously battling each other while Palin, her husband, and two of their children watch from a tiny boat just a few precarious feet away.
When Sarah Palin’s Alaska was first announced several months ago, it seemed like the show would focus primarily on the wonders of the union’s largest state, with its most famous resident serving as a sort of host and tour guide. Instead, it’s a run-of-the-mill reality show, with Palin as its star and Alaska simply providing a scenic backdrop for her mini-diatribes about personal responsibility (a mama bear teaching her cubs to fend for themselves sets the example) and how “you just gotta get outside!”
What’s most striking about Sarah Palin’s Alaska is its subject’s apparent reverence for Mother Nature, her seeming awe of the beauty that surrounds her, and her purported understanding that mankind is simply a steward of the Earth. That, of course, is in direct conflict with many of her public stances and policies regarding conservation, energy, and climate change.
The show is anything but apolitical. Palin refers to the family’s “new neighbor,” a writer who infamously rented the house next door to research what husband Todd calls a “hit piece” about the Palins, and likens the fence Todd and his friends built in between the homes to the fence she believes the U.S. should build along the Mexican border (thereby equating the neighbor to an illegal alien?). The premiere episode of the series even devotes several minutes to the TV studio in the family guesthouse that Palin uses to connect via satellite to FOX News, for which she serves as a political commentator.
Not surprisingly, 16-year-old daughter Willow doesn’t seem too thrilled about having her life broadcast on national television (Palin’s Blackberry is a more animated cast member), and a joke that the toddler gate at the foot of the stairs is also meant to keep the girl’s male friend from going upstairs provides a good chuckle—but mostly at the expense of Palin’s parenting history. Palin rarely comes across as very endearing, and what’s the purpose of a show like this if not to help make over the failed politico’s public image?
Some have speculated that Palin is more interested in running for president than actually becoming president. After all, she’s made a bundle since losing the 2008 election. While traversing a glacier during one of the first episode’s attempts at making Sarah Palin’s Alaska more about the latter than the former, a guide says, “You always wanted to be a rock climber.” To which Palin replies, “Was it a rock climber or a rock star?”