Democracy Soup

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‘All My Palins’ Part of New Influx of Soap Opera into Politics

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Originally published on on Fri, 05/08/2009 – 11:17am

The cast of “All My Palins” in happier times from Christmas 2007.

Soap operas on U.S. television are dying. “Guiding Light” has been around on radio or television since 1937, but will make its last appearance on September 18. And if you follow the TV industry at all, there has been speculation on which soap will be cancelled next.

There may be lots of good reasons why this is happening, but one of them is that soap operas based in reality are far more entertaining. And none politically is more entertaining than “All My Palins.”

During the first few episodes of “All My Palins,” the focus was on the matriarch of the family, Sarah, a governor by day and moose hunter on the weekends. But very soon into the show, we got a glimpse of the younger generation. And like many TV soap operas, the focus is usually on the young ones.

Bristol Palin has clearly become a soap opera star. She has the beauty of her mother but with a shy charm all her own. The rumors of a previous pregnancy. The mysterious bout with mono and living with her aunt in Anchorage. The boyfriend who didn’t want kids, though that info magically disappeared. The questions about whether or if she would finish her education.

Sarah Palin is trying to stay in the limelight, (even though her numbers are crashing in terms of popularity for her current day job), but the Bristol Palin spokesperson realm for abstinence and the cruel irony of her participation dominates the news cycle.

We see Bristol Palin on television, telling us that abstinence is the best way to go, though there is the small technicality that she didn’t use the method she is telling other young women to do. We see Levi Johnston, who truly came out of central casting on about six different levels, telling us that abstinence is not the way to go.

As politics creeps into the soap opera realm, so the soap opera will be part of the political realm. Since we pretty much know that Sarah Palin will either run for president in 2012 or at least seriously consider doing so, get ready for a little soap opera in your politics.

Sarah Palin uses her family in ways we hadn’t seen in politics. Sure past politicians incorporate and show off their spouse and children, but the Palin stamp sets the family mode to new levels. Her first major political decision was to throw the unwed, teenage pregnant daughter underneath the bus. She yanked Levi Johnston to St. Paul to hold hands with Bristol and be on stage.

And let’s not forget dragging the children along to the campaign trail. Poor Piper was put on display when her mother was booed at a Philadelphia Flyers game (and then blaming the fans for booing a child when clearly their target was Gov. Palin), and coming back (finally) to Alaska and having a hard time getting adjusted to school, something most 7-year-olds don’t worry about.

The other Palin kids have been hiding in the woodwork, ready to come out for some key plot point in the ongoing soap opera. There’s Track, the oldest, who is fighting off in Iraq. Track was set on playing hockey, but suffered a shoulder injury during his senior year while living in Michigan. And the curiosity as to whether it was his choice to go fighting overseas.

And let’s not leave out the mysterious Willow, who hasn’t been heard from but whom might get scared into abstinence simply because she won’t have to relive the agony of Bristol’s journey.

Babies are vital to soap operas are, though on TV, they are a baby one year and then become 7-year-olds in about a year of real time. Well, they don’t get cuter or more manipulated than Trig, who was dragged everywhere you can imagine during the campaign, and Tripp, the newest character to the soap whom Bristol had with her during her interviews in New York City. Seriously, don’t these people believe in babysitters?

Bristol Palin is being molded into this “pro-abstinence” spokesperson for one simple reason: Mommy’s future political career. And when Sarah Palin returns to the political stage, her family will be front and center, the good and the bad. Most politicians work hard to protect their family from the limelight, but most politicians are not Sarah Palin.

I suggested last fall that if Sarah Palin were smart, she would have waited to jump into the political limelight. After all, four years later, no one would have asked about Bristol, Levi, Trig, Tripp, or Levi’s mother, who was charged with multiple drug counts and goes on trial May 18.

But that isn’t the way Sarah Palin approaches the world. Her family is a part of who she is, regardless of how much damage she might do to them, they serve the bigger picture: her career. Because on “All My Palins,” Mama knows best. And with Mother’s Day coming up on Sunday, it’s good to know that regardless of your relationship with your mother, you should be thankful you aren’t one of Sarah Palin’s children.


Written by democracysoup

May 8, 2009 at 11:17 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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