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)