Between the debut of “Kid Nation” – 40 kids building their own society in the Wild West – and the launch of sexy “Gossip Girl” (pictured above, courtesy of the CW) tonight should be a hot one for parents. We’ve been listening to colleagues Ann Tatko-Peterson and Chuck Barney weigh in on the Kid Nation conceit – Ann was horrified by the contracts parents signed that gave up all oversight of their children’s safety to a bunch of money-grubbing television producers, while TV critic Chuck is taking a wait-and-see approach. And the Times’ parent poll, which asks the question “Would you let your kids do this?” is running 72 percent against. So now we’re really curious…which is exactly what CBS intended.
As for “Gossip Girl,” the series is based on Cecily von Ziegesar’s popular YA novels that young tweens started snatching up a few years ago. Apparently, their parents saw the nice pastel covers and didn’t bother peeking inside or even reading the jacket blurbs, which called it “Sex and the City” for the teen set. And sexy it is, but what’s more concerning is the amount of alcohol the sexy teen prepsters blithely consume in the pilot episode tonight – champagne, limoncello, and vodka – with little in the way of consequences…
The books? Problematic too. We weren’t at all surprised by the call from a Walnut Creek mom who was horrified to discover what her third grader was reading. GG’s “Nobody Does it Better,” for example, opened with naked teen Blair Waldorf yanking the Black Watch plaid duvet off her antique sleigh bed so she could awaken also-naked Nate Archibald (what is with these names??) and ponder why “s-e-x made her so hyper and him so sleepy?”
OK, certainly not what you’d like your third grader reading, but we’re more concerned by the pretty, pretty teenagers downing martinis on national TV, especially given the serious issue of underage drinking across this country. Common Sense Media gives this one a “parents beware” rating. If your child tunes in tonight, you should probably be sitting on that couch too, ready to discuss, discuss and re-direct.
– Jackie Burrell