The New Yorker's Nancy Franklin reviews "Sarah Palin's Alaska," the former governor's new reality show on TLC, after a preview of one episode, and finds Palin making points about politics and points about life that reinforce her politics:
The first episode involves a couple of fun family outings. But before we leave the house let's set outside a spell, shall we? Palin likes to do "a lot of my writing and researching, especially on a beautiful day . . . on our cement slab, where I get to take in the beauty of the lake." The scene, it turns out, is really just an excuse to bring up a subject that infuriates her: the writer Joe McGinniss, who is working on an unauthorized biography of Palin, has naughtily rented the house next door. Palin's husband, Todd, ambles onscreen and explains that "our summer has kind of been taken away from us" by this. Palin adds proudly that Todd and his buddies have put up a fourteen-foot-high fence--a fence that handily doubles as policy. "I thought that was a good example, what we just did. Others could look at it and say, 'Oh, this is what we need to do to secure our nation's border,' " she says.
The first excursion is to the Big River Lake area for fishing and bear-watching, with Todd, their nine-year-old daughter, Piper, and a niece. "I'm really hoping that Piper . . . will have that treat of seeing a mama grizzly," Palin says. Nature, it seems, exists to provide her with a chance to use one of her signature terms. Only brown bears show up, but it turns out that they have something to teach us, too. Palin says, "I love watching these mama bears. They've got a nature, yeah, that humankind can learn from. She's trying to show her cubs nobody's going to do it for ya, you get out there and do it yourself, guys." That sounds great, except that in this case the mother bear is doing all the fishing while her cubs splash around on a nearby rock, ignoring her. When a bear growls, Palin says, "You hear that? That is a growl." And then, "Wow." And then "Wow" again. And then "Wow" again. When they arrive back home, Palin attempts to poison Piper's little mind with her mean-girl attitude. "See, we one-upped him, Piper," she says of McGinniss. "We had a good day. And he's stuck in his house." (Actually, the camera finds him sitting outside on his porch, reading a book.)
Read the full review at The New Yorker.