'Sarah Palin Alaska' Review: Since When Is Hiking Political?

Kim Conte

sarah palin's alaskaAfter watching Sarah Palin shoot rifles, fish with bears, and negotiate crevasses on the first episode of TLC's Sarah Palin's Alaska, you might be inclined to think that this is simply an outdoorsy family show about life in the wilderness with little to no political agenda.

But you would be dead wrong -- at least if the critics have anything to say about it. Here's how they are reacting to the show this morning (and it's kind of a hoot):

Ordinarily, common activities like kayaking, hiking, and fishing wouldn't provide such a transparent lens through which we can understand a person's policies or political intentions. Yet, that's exactly how the following critics are choosing to perceive them on Palin's show.

Here's Kate Harding writing for the LA Times:

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."

Now that is assuming that Palin is astute enough to understand her own metaphor -- something that I'd prefer to wait until Episode 2 before I make any sort of determination.

Alexandria Patri, writing for The Washington Post, reacts to Palin getting stuck on the side of a mountain:

If she ever becomes President Palin, I can imagine a similar moment playing out in a time of foreign policy crisis. "That's what all that foreign policy experience is good for!" one of her aides will say. "I do not have any foreign policy experience!" Palin will shoot back. Then forty-five minutes will pass without any apparent movement.

Now I'm not above poking fun at Palin, but this comment is simply unfair (albeit funny).

Finally, Shelley Ross, writing for Newsweek, goes as far as to accuse Palin's show of having not one but seven secret political messages. She actually calls it "a flash of political brilliance."

Palin looks brave but measured, like the kind of commander in chief who could tackle the world's most dangerous leaders with her bare hands. In a rock climbing lesson, we learn her upper body strength comes from “doin’ boys push ups.”


Do you see what's happening here? We're doing the work that Palin herself should be doing. She's simply showing us beautiful Alaskan landscapes and folksy family fun and we're doing the intellectual work behind it all -- reading into it and twisting it around and making her life way more of a political thriller than it ought to or deserves to be.

To quote Cher Horowitz from one of my favorite movies, Clueless: "Searching for a boy in high school is as useless as searching for meaning in a Pauly Shore movie." You follow me? Same thing applies here. Can't we just appreciate this show for what it really is and stop trying to assign any sort of political meaning to it?

What did you think of Sarah Palin's Alaska? Is the show overtly political?


Image via TLC.com

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