Can Sarah Palin save Bristol's bombing reality show?

Norman Byrd's picture

Former Alaska governor, Fox News contributor, and all-around political polarizer Sarah Palin will make an appearance on the next couple of episodes of "Bristol Palin: Life's A Tripp," the Lifetime network reality show that feature's her daughter. According to the ratings, the show is bombing. Will the elder Palin's appearance save the show?

Bristol Palin's new show is bombing, slowly sinking in the ratings. The drop in viewership prompted Lifetime network to place it behind their popular show, "Dance Moms," as a helpful lead-in when it airs again on July 3, but "Bristol Palin: Life's A Tripp" was also moved back an hour to an 11:00 p.m. airtime. Still, help might be on the way. Bristol's mom, Sarah Palin, will appear on the next couple of episodes. But will the popular politician, author, news contributor, and reality show star in her own right be able to save her daughter's show?

According to the Nielsen ratings, the show's debut (on June 19) premiered to a dismal ratings start: Only 726,000 people viewed the series opener. As noted by Radar Online, the second week's double airing of episodes fared even worse with 586,000 and 426,000 viewers. Although Lifetime ordered 14 episodes of the series for its first season, the numbers aren't looking good for a Season 2.

And even with the appearance of Sarah Palin on the show, will it be enough? Given that viewership will undoubtedly go up just from the fans of the outspoken former Alaska governor tuning in, will enough of them stick around for subsequent episodes when popular ex-governor isn't around? Or will the numbers tumble back to around half a million or -- worse still -- continue to decline as they have been?

So what is the problem? According to James Poniewozik at Time magazine, "'Life’s a Tripp' has pretty much nothing to say about the Palin family’s public role or what it means that Bristol has chosen to continue as a media figure and spokeswoman."

He also notes that the most interesting dynamic in the show is that it reflects the conflict between sisters Bristol and Willow, where the latter decries her role as a "nanny" while Bristol films her show. And Tripp? Well, the child that share's half the show title appears to be little more than an accessory.

A much talked about accessory, to be sure, especially with regard to absentee dad, Levi Johnston. But Johnston refuses to be part of the show, although he was asked by Palin to be part of the series. He has reportedly even turned down $10,000 for a single episode.

But that hasn't kept the baby's father from being part of the show, albeit only as a continuing conversation piece. With Johnston as a constant theme, the show seems to be mostly about complaining. According to Robert Lloyd at the Los Angeles Times, the show appears to revolve around the two young Palin women coping with life while traipsing from L. A. to Alaska and back. They complain "about Los Angeles, each other, and their lives."

Even where something of interest seems to have potential, the potentiality does not develop. In one scene, as Lloyd notes, Bristol is shown "skid row," something about which she admits no knowledge of but had "heard of," and says she is "blown away" by the images of homelessness and poverty. But she sees it all from inside of a vehicle from which she never exits.

Both Lloyd and Poniewozik mention the now infamous encounter in the bar with the Sarah Palin hater (who now has sued Lifetime network because he was never asked to sign a release to have his part in the show broadcast). Both also note that Palin's defense of her mother was actually well handled. (Lloyd also noted that the show's editors also cut out the part of the confrontation where Bristol asserted that the man was "obviously" a homosexual, an important part of the heated exchange that launched a firestorm of media coverage over the incident.)

So what is "Bristol Palin: Life's a Tripp" other than a lot of complaining? Apparently it is simply boring. Without some measure of conflict, the show appears to be a show about filming a show about a couple of young women with a child in tow and a lot of time on their hands.

And the ratings numbers reflect the interest in something as visually boring as it reads.

Enter: Sarah Palin. For the next couple episodes, Bristol ventures north to Alaska to be with family. But will the Mama Grizzly bump be enough to save her daughter's show?

Given the show's downward spiral in viewership, it might be that this is one of those things that even a driven and well-intentioned mom cannot fix.

(photo credit: Gage Skidmore, Creative Commons)


Submitted by MLB (not verified) on
No, mommy dearest, the architect and manager of Bristol's career, can not save the show since she is the reason in the first place no one is interested in watching her daughter endlessly bash her alleged baby-daddy and cry victim while she's living in a mansion with nannies and film crews following her. Just another one of Sarah's platforms. They all exploit children and it's back fired. We are sick of it.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
It is a total failure. The apple does not fall far from the tree. They have become so arrogant, egotistical and continue to show their their ignorance. Yes - had more then enough of themm.

Submitted by JustTheFax (not verified) on
Madame...I mean Mamma...Bear can't save her little cubs from drowning.

Submitted by Guest (not verified) on
Good for you, Levi. You turned down the money and in doing so, undoubtedly mystified the Palin grifters. Your son deserves to be raised with some principles and values. That'll be up to you. He won't get any from his maternal lineage. Instead, he'll be exploited for his ratings and earning potential.

Submitted by JustTheFax (not verified) on
Levi is an unemployed high school drop out with 2 children and who posed for PG magazine. He's not much better the Bristol. Neither one is an ideal parent.

Submitted by techweenie (not verified) on
The Palin fascination has died. MILF looks and a brash attitude can take you a long way in today's America, but just not all the way. Familiarity has bred contempt. Bristol, not blessed with her mother's good looks, was lucky to cash in when she did. With TV shows, lecture tours; book publishing... she's a great example of all the great things that can happen to a party girl impregnated while in high school and unmarried. I have nothing against Bristol, but I am frankly concerned about the "message" young girls will get from seeing her (thoroughly edited) life played out on TV.

Submitted by Carolnc (not verified) on
Sarah Palin is not an author or a reality show star. Sarah Palin's Alaska was cancelled after the first season. Bristol's show should be taken off the air. We don't need too see the fake mama grizzly stomp in to give parental advice, especially since she has failed at that too! There is no substance to these people!

Submitted by Carolnc (not verified) on
Sarah Palin is not an author or a reality show star. Sarah Palin's Alaska was cancelled after the first season. Bristol's show should be taken off the air. We don't need too see the fake mama grizzly stomp in to give parental advice, especially since she has failed at that too! There is no substance to these people!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
If Sarah Palin had finished her Alaska Governorship...she and her family would now be very well respected. Sarah chose instead, to cash-in on Fame/Popularity. Now the whole Palin family wants to get on that train and grab a piece of the stale action. Very sad to see this happening to an American family. Sarah Palin, instead of being a mere 'flash-in-the-pan'... do something positive helping your fellowman. Instead of your negative focus of...viciously stabbing the opposing political party! Encourage your family to be a blessing to society....not selfishly trying to cash-in and profit. No more Palin's...come back in 10 years with accomplishments and then we will applaud!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
I don't understand why everyone is so angry with Sarah Palin. I think she is extremely smart and she should run for office. I would vote for her.


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