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Kid Nation: Please let it be a KID nation

By asoglin
Thursday, December 6th, 2007 at 1:38 pm in Kid Nation.

KID NATIONIf I start sounding like Jared, forgive me, but I’m feeling analytical. Kid Nation (photo courtesy of CBS) can’t have it both ways. It can either create a kids world, where the youngsters really drive the storyline. Or it can let the adults set the kids up in different scenarios.

It’s now such a mish-mash that I don’t know whether the Sheriff Sophia storyline in Episode 12, “Where’s Bonanza, Dude,” was pure kid plot or completely orchestrated by the adults.

When the four Bonanza City Town Council leaders set off on a hike into the wilderness, they left Sophia in charge. The other kids reacted appropriately. As Nathan said, “You’re giving Sophia a lot of power; we didn’t elect her.”

Sophia had a glint in her eye. I wondered whether the 14-year-old, who, along with co-Green District member Michael, has exhibited more maturity than anyone else, finally would get corrupted by power.

I’ve written before about trying to accept that everything on this show is adult-driven and just enjoying it for what it is. But this time, I was not able to bury the uncertainty about what’s scripted and what isn’t.

Sophia was perfect. She told the kids they had to do certain chores before she’d unlock the Bonanza City arcade. She gave them specific clean-up goals, and when they hit them, she praised them. “I am so proud of all of you,” she announced. “… Thank you. You’ve earned your arcade.”

I can buy the idea that much of what we saw was genuine Sophia, because she’s exhibited character strengths throughout. But did she get coached or was she all on her own? Because most of Kid Nation does seem contrived, I’m left with doubts. That’s a shame.

Other key moments from this episode:

  • It’s nice to have nasty Taylor back. That girl has a violent streak. She told Sophia that she hoped Greg, while out hiking with the Town Council, would get lost and eaten by coyotes.
  • They should’ve done one episode that was entirely focused on Jared and Alex. Those two together are a trip. They talk a walk and find a cow skeleton. Alex is nervous about touching the bones. Jared is not. He tells Alex, “If we had some carbon dating process we could see how old the cow was.” And then, carrying part of the animal back with him, he says what might be the line of the year: “Pelvis has left the building, baby.”
  • After the showdown, Sophia has to pick between hot-air balloon rides and an everlasting Kid Nation monument. She picks the rides. Yes!! Like they really were going to leave that monument out in the wilderness.
  • As Zach comes before the Town Council and tearfully nominates himself for the gold star, Greg laughs. Zach leaves. Greg slams him behind his back, saying the tears were fake. Zach comes back and tells how hurt he was by the laughter. Greg says it’s OK and that he respects Zach. Then, after Zach leaves again, DK tells Greg he’s being duplicitious.
  • Poignant moment. The kids realize the end is near and they’re getting sentimental. Even Anjay, who has struggled to get respect, says, “Bonanza City is the only place I ever really fit in.” Ya gotta figure that as awful as the adults have made this show, the 40 kids must’ve had an amazing bonding experience.

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No Responses to “Kid Nation: Please let it be a KID nation”

  1. Ann Tatko-Peterson Says:

    My colleague was more eloquent in saying, BURN THE PIONEER BOOK!!! The producers pulling the strings has turned this into some grand school experiment. Sometimes, as with Sophia playing sheriff and Taylor spouting off, you get a sense that these are real kids learning real lessons. Other times, they look like they’re just going through the motions.

    Last night, the pioneer book sent the Town Council members off into the wilderness to meet some Indians and learn about another culture. What a waste. Greg asks the Indian chief about how he should deal with the younger children. Motivate them, support them, he’s told. So, how does Greg respond? By laughing at an emotional Zach’s nomination of himself for the gold star. I clapped out loud when DK called him on that BS. Too bad the coyotes didn’t eat Greg on his little journey.

    And I almost fell out of my chair when Greg suggested giving the gold star to Alex because that might be like funding a future cure for cancer. Granted, Alex and Jared are mini brainaics whose brilliance makes for good humorous moments. But what does being smart have to do with working hard for Bonanaza? That said, it was nice to see someone genuinely shocked to win. Alex is a real ham.

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