The Washington Post

Bristol Palin gets a reality TV series

Wasn’t this enough? (Adam Larkey/ABC)

Most of what is wrong with our culture these days can be summed up in the sentence “Bristol Palin has a reality TV series, ‘Life’s a Tripp’ on Lifetime.”

Of the millions of talentless, attention-hungry people out there available for a reality series, you pick Bristol Palin? There are thousands of Americans with even less talent and even more charisma than Bristol Palin, waiting for their shots.

I have no objection to Bristol Palin. Heck, I have no objection to Lifetime, a delightful network that rescued my favorite show, America’s Most Wanted.

But this is the American Dream.

Joe Kennedy wanted to get all his children into politics. Mama Palin is doing him one better and getting everyone onto reality television. That’s the real dream.

Once it was 40 acres and a mule. Then — detached house, car and at least one person wearing an apron in your home at all times. Now it’s broadened to include ambitions beyond food and shelter. Who needs food and shelter when you can get attention?

These days, running for president is just an uncomfortable, invasive formality you have to undergo in order to get a show on Fox News.

Still, reality TV was the great leveler. You didn’t need any special skills or connections. You didn’t even need to be able to string together a simple, grammatical sentence. They could fix that in post-production.

All you needed were a few basic qualities that all Americans possess at birth: no talent whatsoever, limited motor skills and a frantic, insatiable desire for attention. It didn’t matter who you were or where you came from. In fact, the less said about your parents the better, especially if you were aiming for a show on MTV.

I know whereof I speak. Once, I auditioned for “America’s Next Top Model” — my logic has always been that I would make a good ‘after’ model. If someone told you, right before I appeared on camera, that I had just lost 100 pounds, you would think I looked great! In the application questionnaire, they demand no test scores or personal essays. They simply inquire whether you’ve ever been so angry that you threw something. Modeling shows have the unfortunate barrier to entry that you have to look somewhat like a model. But there are other ways. If all else fails, you can claim not to know your child’s paternity and show up on Maury. All it takes is persistence. As long as you are not exceptionally docile, dull, or in possession of enough brain cells to keep you from blowing over in a high wind, you too can make it.

By many measures of reality TV, Bristol Palin is wildly over-qualified. And she’s already had two turns! Meanwhile, there are people out there who have worked hard and honestly for years to attain a higher level of talentlessness and inanity than Bristol Palin, who once used the word “canard” in a Facebook update, can ever hope to attain. Hard-working, honest Americans like Snooki, who got into this business the traditional way.

Come on, Lifetime.

Now millions of Americans with all the qualifications for a reality TV show are left to roam around the country listless and unfulfilled, filming themselves on YouTube feeding strange substances to their cats while Bristol gets a third turn. Maybe the American dream really is slipping out of reach.

Alexandra Petri writes the ComPost blog, offering a lighter take on the news and opinions of the day. She is the author of "A Field Guide to Awkward Silences".


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