Whatever political feelings one may have about the Palins, it is hard not to feel sympathetic to Bristol Palin as she navigates the waters of single parenthood.
On week two of Life’s a Tripp, we see Bristol continue to struggle through her adjustment to Los Angeles, a culture which feels light-years removed from her simple life in Wasilla, AK. She begs her little sister Willow to come back in order to help out watching Tripp while she works at a children’s charity, but Willow feels just as alienated by L.A. as Bristol. As she walks along the famous Venice Beach strip, Bristol comments how peaceful the ocean looks – and what a contrast to that peace the shops and activates on the other side of the sidewalk make.
But Willow relents in the end and joins Bristol for the last leg of her stay in California. The subject of Levi’s absenteeism from Tripp’s life comes to dominate their conversations, all the while Tripp plays in the background – and doubtless understands the basic gist of the dialogue. It’s been six months since Levi saw his son – and for a two-year-old, that’s a quarter of his life right there. Bristol surmises that Levi is actually in town for an episode on the Dr. Phil show and wistfully remarks that he won’t bother to visit Tripp even while in the same town.
We see Bristol call Levi several times over the course of the show, and at no time does the truant dad ever pick up. Bristol is used to it, but tries nevertheless. Willow is disgusted and thinks Bristol should stop trying to get Levi involved. Bristol, however, feels that every child needs a dad in his life.
Levi’s book about his life with the Palin family comes out at about this time, and we see Bristol fume over the alleged lies and inaccuracies in the memoir. She is particularly miffed about Levi’s effusions about Tripp, in light of his actual absenteeism as a dad. She and her friends shred the book in a session of skeet shooting, which is a funny sort of catharsis – and very age-appropriate.
Later the sisters return to Alaska. Bristol settles in and starts building a home across the lake from her family compound. The Palins are definitely going to be Wasilla scions for generations to come, judging by the looks of both houses. Bristol continues to try to contact Levi and get him together with Tripp. Levi now has a girlfriend, Sunny, who also does not get along well with the Palins. We see a heartbreaking scene in which Willow and Bristol take little Tripp to a toddler play space where they hope to meet up with Levi – who does not show up. Little Tripp declares that he never wants to come back. Are you listening, Bristol? Ditch the deadbeat dad!
Meanwhile, Bristol’s sometime boyfriend Gino steps up to the plate and says he will be a permanent figure in Tripp’s life, but he and Bristol approach the prospect of couplehood with a typical adolescent ambivalence which is annoying in light of the fact that a little boy desperately needs them to grow up already. Kids will do that to you, which is why Bristol’s story might be a good cautionary tale for aspiring teen moms out there.
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