I regretfully admit that I’ve suffered through four full episodes of CBS’ Kid Nation–a clumsy, abhorrent reality mindfuck dripping with heavy-handed producing, “preditorial” cobbling of thin storylines, forced moral dilemmas, hackneyed challenges, and cheesy emotional final acts. I HATE this show–something I’m not inclined to say about any program on television (having myself slaved to make ‘em for years)–it’s cruel (40 days out on the prairie? We could have broken them down in 14), abusive (freezing cold temperatures and no visible chapstick), prosaic (I’ve seen plenty of Jeff Probst imitations in my day, but this is ridiculous), and likely to scar the cast members who are actually “kids” (they range from way-too-young 8 to old-ass 15 in age) for life.
There is, however, a sick and twisted part of me that watches the show every week, if only to wonder and wonder and wonder what kind of parents signed their offspring up for this horribly executed social experiment. If you look closely, you can see and hear them pretty clearly:
’cause you’re pretty. Let all them poor and ugly folk take care of that nonsense.
You protect yer face. If they don’t like it they can DEAL WITH IT!”
This most recent episode, titled “Bless Us and Keep Us Safe,” centered around the heavy-handed and divisive topic of religion, which made me cringe at every step–from one kid not seeing the big deal about oils and candles and Hanukkah, to the feel-good prize of various Holy Books that the kids were guilted into choosing.
But again, I found myself watching the whole thing, dreaming about the parents that were responsible for the tiny voices and words coming out of these characters. And for the first time all season, some of these kids were Asian.
And little 9-year old Alex, the cherub with the one big tooth, finally got to speak after being rendered mute in 3 previous episodes. When he did, he made an incredibly articulate speech to the group about finding religious similarities– before collecting data detailing on the groups various religions and sub-religions. He’s obviously been doing his homework. If his Mom and Dad are anything like them, I totally wanna hang.
That said, who the hell signs their 9-year old to be on this damn show?!?!?
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