Last night CBS debuted its latest "reality show", Kid Nation, where they take 40 kids, aged 8 - 15, and stick them in a "ghost town" in New Mexico called Bonanza City and tell them to build a society. When I first heard about this, I imagined what kind of coked-out parents would let their children go run amok in the deserts of New Mexico with no adults and no, um, I don't know... survival training?
But thank god it's way less Lord of the Flies and way more Double Dare than I'd feared. There IS an actual adult, a kind of cute-in-a-goofy-way man who looks about 30 who just has to say "Hey kids!" and they all come running and suddenly behave. He helps them out. He gives them challenges. He's the teacher, the surrogate dad to a bunch of latchkey kids with a mission.
They have teams, a town council, they have to figure out how to cook, and there's "laundry", which I can only assume is actual 21st century laundry complete with LG or Kenmore washing machines and dryers. The kids have normal kid clothes. The only cowboy kitsch are their hats and bandannas. The 15 year old boys are jerks (complete with 15-year old boy chalk graffiti pranks), but once they realized that good campers got $20,000 prizes, I think we're going to see a change of heart next week.
So, CBS is not as douchey as I thought they'd try to be - this isn't Survivor Pre-Teen. At each town meeting - which seem to happen every 3 or 4 days - the kids get a chance go say they want to go home. Last night 8-year-old Jimmy, from New Hampshire, wanted to go home. He had repeatedly said he was too homesick. He missed his parents. He thought he was too young to be doing this stuff. And if an 8-year-old boy thinks he's too young for something, chances are, he's right.
On a side note, I'm really not sure who they think the audience for this show is going to be. There weren't ads for the first 30 minutes or so, but towards the end, there was one for Vagisil cream. Apparently their intended audience has vagina problems.