David Zurawik

'Bristol Palin: Life's a Tripp' is a lifeless, lame and aimless production

The most interesting aspect of Bristol Palin's new reality show on Lifetime is how much padding the producers had to do to fill the time between an hour's worth of commercials Tuesday night.

The padding was so bad that they showed the one scene with any energy and conflict four times during the hour. And that's a scene that anyone who still has any interest in this sorry Alaskan clan has already seen for months on YouTube.

You know, it's the one in which Bristol Palin and two of her friends (and a posse of reality TV producers and technicians) went to a Los Angeles bar that featured a mechanical bull and drunks. As Bristol finished her ride on the bull, one of the guys at the bar yelled, "Is that how you rode Levi? Your mother's a whore."

And then, Bristol accompanied by camerapersons and producers, confronted the man and asked, "Why do you hate my mom? Is it because you're a homosexual?"

To which the guy said, "Pretty much."

He also called Sarah Palin, Bristol's mom, a "devil" and said that even though he doesn't believe hell, that's where Sarah Palin is headed. (Sitting at a bar and doing what people do at a bar is rarely the best way to order your thoughts on heaven and hell.)

If this all sounds familar, it's because it was shown on YouTube and written about in all the junky online LA gossip venues over and over when it happened.

Believe me, nobody comes off looking good in this exchange. By the end of the first time through, you've seen enough. But no, we have to sit through it four times -- with each scene played out a little longer Tuesday night in the premiere of "Bristol Palin: Life's a Tripp."

The Tripp, of course, refers to her 2-year-old son, the one she was pregnant with when her mother was announced as John McCain's August surprise in 2008 as the GOP vice presidential candidate.

Beyond that one worn-out barroom scene, there is almost nothing else in the premiere but the 20-year-old Bristol crying a lot. She keeps talking about the way in which her mother raised her to be strong and see life "as an adventure," but she is constantly in tears, complaining how hard it is to be a "single mom" and how she never thought she'd be one when she was pregnant at 17.

Mainly, it seems like her younger sister, Willow, has been designated as Tripp's nanny, so I'm not sure what Bristol has to complain about. In the show, Bristol gets to move to Los Angeles and live in a mansion owned by one of her mom's friends so she can presumably work at a Los Angeles charity organization.

But all we see of that so-called job is her riding in a van for about three minutes as it moves rather quickly through what's described as "Skid Row." And then it's back to Bristol shopping, eating, going to the bar, talking on the telephone and crying some more about how hard her life is -- while Willow is mostly cooped up with the kid who isn't hers back at the mansion.

And by the way, when Bristol and Willow are out together, ask yourself who is watching the kid if Bristol is "so all on my own" in Los Angeles. Could it be the reality TV people -- or nanny help that Lifetime and the reality TV are providing for her?

In the past, this kind of Palin TV dishonesty would have made me crazy -- like the way I got when "Dancing with the Stars" kept Bristol on as a contestant long past the point of credibility. I was so mad I quit watching DWTS forever that season.

But you know what? I am sitting here at 1 a.m. typing this post, and even though it's been a very long day, my blood pressure is fine. In fact, I'm feeling an almost Zen-like high. And that's because watching this show and reading reviews of Sarah Palin's performance at a gathering of right-wing bloggers this weekend, I have become convinced that the Palins are history.

I don't care about their ignorance and screwed-up values anymore -- even a little. And judging from the overall lack of interest in Sarah Palin's red-meat speech over the weekend, the rest of the media does not care much either.

The Palins are finished - kaput. And I think what finally did Sarah Palin and her family in was HBO's "Game Change." She will never be taken seriously by anyone of the millions who saw that film. Let's hear it for HBO.

So fine, let Bristol say she's going to Los Angeles to work for a charity, and then do nothing resembling charity work in the pilot. Let her whine and cry like a spoiled child who is lost in the world because she was running around being a phony "role model" when she should have been in college learning to be a productive member of society.

Let her and her mom and Willow and anyone else in this clan say anything they want on Lifetime, Fox News, TLC or any other cable channel crazy enough to pay them, because almost no one is listening anymore. In pop culture terms, the Palins are almost as dead as that elk Sarah shot for a cheap viewer thrill during her reality TV show on TLC.