Is “Sarah Palin’s Alaska” a protracted 2012 campaign ad? An End-Times relocation brochure for fundamentalists? Or just the most boring hour of television since Lawrence Welk? Probably all three. Most of my friends are baffled by the media’s obsession with her. “I'm watching her give a speech on CNN, and she might very well be the most aggressively stupid person I have ever seen on the national stage,” one said recently. “And I'm old enough to remember Dan Quayle.” But I can’t help it, I’m transfixed. And because I don’t have cable (except for basic-basic and HBO, a combination apparently only available to Cablevision subscribers in the Brooklyn hinterlands), and Dana does, I invited myself over to her house for an evening of Palin and "Walking Dead" (or is that redundant?). Please note that these scenes may or may not be discussed in the order that they appeared. (Special thanks go out to three bottles of wine.)
Maud: I forgot about her voice.
Dana: Really? That's the first thing I remember.
The theme song begins, an inoffensive hard rock ballad sung by a dude with an inoffensively raspy voice.
Dana: Who is this, Nickelback?
Maud: Creed maybe.
Dana: Aha, it’s a Christian band called Third Day. Remember, on the third day, God created Earth and Sea and fruit-bearing trees. No grizzlies though.
Maud: Also, on the third day, Jesus rose from the grave!
Dana: Aha, you’re right indeed.
Maud: Look, I know I’m a conspiracy whack-job when it comes to Palin and her allure for fundamentalist loons (of the kind I grew up with), but this song (“Follow Me There”) is all, “You need a place where you can find some shelter” (subtext: when the apocalypse comes).
Dana: I’m feeling it!
Maud: Alaska: it’s a place where “the lost can find salvation,” Dana, and “the lonely finds [sic] a friend”!
Dana: I finds a friend in Jesus. This is the first of what I expect will be one of the night’s many dog-whistle moments. Wait, are they really shooting off Roman candles on a speed boat? Is that what people do for fun in Alaska? (When they're not murdering prostitutes and huffing glue?)
Maud: I reckon so. On her Facebook page, she says the purpose of the whole show is to let “the rest of America … see and experience our country’s young, independent, resource-rich Last Frontier.” Also: “the grandeur of God’s creation, the satisfaction of a good day’s hard work, the rugged pioneering spirit that carves a life out of the wilderness and makes a living on the waters, the wisdom and traditions of our Alaska Natives, and the wealth of our natural resources which allows us to support ourselves and contribute to America’s security.”
First scene: Keeps ya on yer heels.
The Palins are obsessed with their new neighbor who’s moved in because he’s “writing a hit piece”—errr, unauthorized biography. In retaliation, they have erected a 14-foot fence between his property and theirs.
Dana: That’s a campaign promise right there. Palin: Building a 14-foot fence around AMERICA.
Maud: Ha! Yeah, it’s pretty rich that they’re filming the guy on his porch and complaining that he’s invading their privacy. Wait, why is she wearing a football jersey that says “Palin 82” on it?
(In an odd synchronicity, 82% of Republicans have a favorable opinion of her. We can only hope she’s wearing a “Palin 22” jersey next week.)
They're making muffins or cupcakes or something in the Palin kitchen. Piper Palin demonstrates all the utensils she can fit into her mouth. Sarah, noticing that the camera is rolling, halfheartedly rebukes her daughter for putting the salivated-on stirrer back in the batter, then checks her Blackberry.
Dana: Did they ever actually bake anything? Why does it feel like the entire kitchen is just a prop wall, like a McMansion in a Potemkin village?
Maud: Maybe FOX built the kitchen when they built her home TV studio?
Dana: Any time Palin says anything that sounds remotely factual about geography it's obvious she's been fed these lines. I challenge her to name the ten biggest cities in Alaska.