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