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Top 10 moments of 'Sarah Palin's Alaska' premiere -- she's as outdoorsy as Roosevelt (Franklin)

By Alexandra Petri

If real life were like this, to paraphrase a member of the Palin clan, I would be outside 24/7 eating popcorn on a chair.


But instead, I'm inside watching "Sarah Palin's Alaska" on TLC. In escalating order, here are the top moments of last night's episode. I would say "I watch so you don't have to," but, actually, I urge you to watch. It's better than Dancing With the Stars!

  1. Sarah, the Bear Whisperer. One of my pet peeves and one of the reasons I worry about our longevity as a species is people who sit there ascribing rich inner lives to animals such as dogs and parakeets. "Look at the dog," they say. "He's thinking about how happy he'll be to ride in the truck. Yes sir. He's saying, 'Oh boy, is that truck for me?'" or "Look at Wally the Cockatoo. I know what Wally's thinking about -- this evening's episode of Criminal Minds! Ain't that so, Wally?" Sarah Palin does this, it turns out, but for bears. Here's what she claims the one she ran into while fishing with her family was thinking: "Nobody's going to mess with my cubs. Nobody's going to mess with the future of the species." Here's what it was actually thinking: "SALMON SALMON. OTHER BEAR. BAD. OTHER BEAR MUST BE STOPPED. GROWL. WHO IS THAT HAIRLESS BEAR IN BOAT? HAIRLESS BEAR IN BOAT MUST BE STOPPED. CAMERA? CAMERAS BAD. HAVE AN EXCLUSIVE CONTRACT WITH DISCOVERY."
  2. Piper Palin. I love everything Piper has to say for herself. Piper, on the same fishing trip: "I'm never going to catch a fish in my life."
  3. The awkward but omnipresent subtext of Palin and Todd's relationship, Todd catches a fish and Palin notes: "Todd feels like he's bringing home the bacon, that's the way it should be."
  4. Palinterior Design. There is an actual bear rug in the Palin livingroom, with head and everything. There is also the decapitated head of what looks to be an elk, with full antlers, mounted on the upstairs wall. It looks vaguely contrite. "This is what happened to the last male who was allowed upstairs," it seemed to say, as the camera cuts back and forth between it and Andy, a male friend of Willow Palin. "Leave while you still can." On the wall beside it is a blank space that has been left open for Levi Johnston's head, in case he ever shows back up in those there parts.
  5. The elaborate and beautiful lexicon of Palinisms These are all PG-rated and eloquently encompass grief, anxiety, and general discomfort, including, "We are somewhere that URRRRRRH people dream about coming to" or "Oh Gossssssh" or "Oh God help me. Here I go. Here I go Brian. I'm scared. Oh. Okay. That's. That's scarier than I thought." or "I hate hikes. All of a sudden. Hey."

  6. Crevasses. After watching Palin rock-climb, my new life goal is to sneak up behind her someday dressed as a crevasse. They terrify her! I don't know the sounds crevasses make, but I'll just yell, "Boo! I'm a crevasse." She finds these mortifying because they are "dark and never-ending."

  7. Mama? Grizzly? Menaced by a bear while fishing, Palin responds by grabbing Piper as a human shield. Sure, call it "protective maternal instinct" if you like, but it looked to me as though she were grabbing Piper for bartering purposes in case the bear decided it wanted a snack. "To get to me, you will have to go through my cub!" Palin seemed to be saying. "I mean, wait."

  8. The Book-Writer Next Door. The Palins put quite a bit of effort into avoiding the person across the way who has rented a house so that he can observe their life and write a book about them. I glimpse a terrible irony in this. He has moved all the way to Wasilla, Alaska, because he actively wants to see more of the Palins, and they are carefully shielding their activities from him, whereas I have moved to Washington, a place I hear is anathema to Sarah, so that I can avoid her as much as possible, and she insists on inflicting herself upon me every night this week.

  9. No Boys Upstairs! This policy produces a hilarious exchange when Willow Palin's friend, Andy, shows up. Palin: "This gate -- it's not just for Trig. It's for -- noooo boys go upstairs." Andy awkwardly sidles back to the couch and sits down, staring up at the forbidding elk head. Palin: "She'll be downstairs in a minute. You can text her up there." ("That should do it!" I picture her thinking. "Kids love texting!") At this point, Sarah looks away. In what is perhaps the greatest decision ever made in the history of reality television, the boy decides to amble upstairs, anyway. Palin notices and becomes nervous. You never know what can happen in thirty to sixty seconds! She telephones Willow. You can hear Willow saying something along the lines of "seriously?" Andy skitters back downstairs. He reseats himself on the couch looking up at the forbidding elk head. And, scene.

  10. Sarah Gets Stuck on a Mountain for 45 Minutes. 45 Full Minutes. Sarah climbs, gets stuck, sits there on the rock shouting "What about my legs? Where do I put 'em?" "Well, then my legs get stuck underneath this overhang!" There is a brief pause. Then we see the caption "45 minutes later." Sarah has not moved. She is still in the same position. Todd, meanwhile, appears to be enjoying this immensely.

    The guide also seems to be enjoying this immensely. "That's what all those gymnastics are good for!" he shouts. "I was not a cheerleader or a gymnast," Sarah Palin shoots back. If she ever becomes President Palin, I can imagine a similar moment playing out in a time of foreign policy crisis. "That's what all that foreign policy experience is good for!" one of her aides will say. "I do not have any foreign policy experience!" Palin will shoot back. Then forty-five minutes will pass without any apparent movement.
    I sympathize, of course. I am always the person who winds up stuck in the middle of the rock climb. Sometimes this happens to me just climbing stairs to people's walk-up apartments. "I'll just sit here!" I say. "You go on! Take my axe with you!" I have all the upper-body strength of Woodrow Wilson. This is why I never go anywhere or do anything. For me, the outdoors is what you walk through to get from the car to the Starbucks. I think Palin and I are more alike than different in this respect. So watching her cling helplessly to the side of a mountain expressing remorse for her hubris in the face of a camera crew is an especially hilarious spectacle.

Before watching this, I would have likened Palin, the outdoorsy, folksy, big-stick-totin' country gal, to Teddy Roosevelt. But after watching her climb, I'd say she's more like Franklin.

"How do we get down?" she asks at the end. I hope the entire second episode is just her attempting to get down! If so, it will be riveting television!

Regardless, I can't wait. As Sarah says, " I don't think that I have been that scared or that challenged in a long time."

By Alexandra Petri  | November 15, 2010; 9:15 AM ET
Categories:  Petri, Reality? Television, Tea Party, Top Lists  | Tags:  Alaska, Sarah Palin, bears  
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How old is Sarah anyway? I friend told me she just turned 50, but wikipedia says she is 46. Would it be out of line to ask her to post her birth certificate?

Posted by: billy_z | November 15, 2010 10:20 AM | Report abuse

The show demonstrates the lifestyle and culture of Native Alaskan as Palin's husband and children are descendents of Native Alaskan.

This makes the liberals and Democrats mad as they have hated and despised the Palins because they are Native Alaskan.

In the 19th century, the Democratic Party and the liberals engineered and executed a genocidal campaign to exterminate the American Indians, driving them ultimately into those Indian Reserve Ghetto. The historical national agenda of the Democratic Party (the Party that founded KKK, imprison American Japanese in WWII and started the Vietnam War to kill more Asians) is to contain and ethnic cleansing the Native American.

President Obama's first act was to cancel federal pension funding for the Native Alaskan World War II veterans to demonstrate his intense hatred and contempt against the Native Americans. Native Americans are the first to be sent to Obama's death panels.

The rise of the Palins in Alaska represents the irrepressible spirit of Native Americans despite the onslaught of attacks by the liberals and Democrats. It may signal the end of Democrats' anti-Native American crusade. Hence the liberals and Democrats have to destroy the Palins at all cost and by all means as the Nazis brutally suppressed the Warsaw Jewish Ghetto Uprising in 1943.

In the eyes of the liberals and Democrats ,those Native Americans must be forever locked in their Reserve / Igloo Ghetto or be sent to the Death Panels.

Posted by: cxyehonala | November 15, 2010 10:21 AM | Report abuse

There were many beautiful, breath-taking scenes in the premiere episode of Sarah Palin's Alaska, but the most exciting segment showed Sarah at home in her jogging shorts.

Posted by: bubbasouth | November 15, 2010 10:24 AM | Report abuse

Since there was a great NFL game on last night, anyone who watched this garbage instead of the football is by definition an unamerican commie scumbag.

Posted by: Observer691 | November 15, 2010 10:47 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: cxyehonala |

what a wonderful post. down is up and the sun rises in the west. I'd love to hear more from this poster, especially about the nazis. good work.

Posted by: johannesrolf | November 15, 2010 10:54 AM | Report abuse

Failin Palin is a legend in her own mind.
And as for the sheep that bleat after her, you are pathetic people who cant think for themselves. The Palins are jokes. Please let her run for President.
Go Heels

Posted by: koneill8 | November 15, 2010 11:07 AM | Report abuse

Strangely, the woman who claims she would rather be outside than in a stuffy political office, chooses to be in a stuffy political office...unless she gets paid to be outside.

Let's be honest here, Mrs. Palin and her brood were never in any real danger from the menacing bear. No one is going to allow this cash cow (See? I can apply animal attributes to Mrs. Palin too!) to get hurt. Therefore, she is seems to be afraid of what she claims she is used to seeing and doing.

Her entire outdoorswoman persona is a fake. In other words, she's a politician. And a beauty queen.

Posted by: arancia12 | November 15, 2010 11:17 AM | Report abuse

cxyehonala - This is the most tortured logic I've ever seen or heard. People oppose Palin because she is a proud know-nothing who prostitutes her children to her own gain. It has nothing to do with her husband's and children's ethnic status.

Posted by: jschafin2 | November 15, 2010 11:30 AM | Report abuse

cxyehonala delusioned:
“President Obama's first act was to cancel federal pension funding for the Native Alaskan World War II veterans to demonstrate his intense hatred and contempt against the Native Americans. Native Americans are the first to be sent to Obama's death panels.”
How is it possible that humans can land a man on the moon, and then write something like the paragraph above?

“The Age of Reason” may be over, but it is the dawning of the “Age of Satire”, and more importantly, “The Age of Google.” Even an apprentice Googler can quickly discover what cxyehonala did not:

What happened is that the Pentagon showed their “hatred for Alaskan veterans” by (mistakenly) RAISING their military retirement pay. Then those pesky lawyers found that the law required the raising of their VA benefits, not their military retirement pay. So they lowered their retirement pay back to what it was under George Bush.

Any good Alaskan Republican knows that the Constitution says the President should enforce the law, not make new law. But Obama is a Democrat, so he’s not bound by the Constitution. He should make up a new law: “The Alaskan Veterans - Goldman Sachs Veterans Equal Pay Act”!

As for your reference to “Obama’s death panels”, I’m sorry but it’s beyond the scope of this comment. That’s one of Sarah Palin’s delusions.

Posted by: divtune | November 15, 2010 11:40 AM | Report abuse

Heck.. I enjoyed the show... and had a few good belly laughs.

The family is normal !and the scenery is fabulous. The scale - the sheer size of everything up there amazing !

Why all the snide comments ? Liberals too can have fun and laugh at and with a normal Alaskan family.

Posted by: pvilso24 | November 15, 2010 11:41 AM | Report abuse

Billy_Z, I think she is either 45 or 46 years old, so she is an 80's kid (more like a valley girl for the way she talks and behaves).

In any case, any male would tap her with gusto while Todd kills some time running around riding snowmobiles and doing stuff (it must be good living off from all the money Sarah earns).

Posted by: eaglestrk01 | November 15, 2010 11:48 AM | Report abuse

A fun show. I must admit as a moderate Dem., I am warming up to the Palin family. Let's face it, Sara's got charisma, thinks out of the box, has a normal family, and shares her world view with all of us. Maybe she can teach us a thing or two if we listen. Obviously, she's a threat to the Karl Rove bunch. Good for her!!!

I recently returned from four months RVing in Alaska, the Yukon, and BC. Great country up there! I loved my trip. Looking forward to the next segment.

Posted by: davidsan | November 15, 2010 11:58 AM | Report abuse

Yada, yada, yada...
In the eyes of the liberals and Democrats ,those Native Americans must be forever locked in their Reserve / Igloo Ghetto or be sent to the Death Panels.
Posted by: cxyehonala
What a moronic post.

Posted by: lgaide | November 15, 2010 12:03 PM | Report abuse

In the eyes of the liberals and Democrats ,those Native Americans must be forever locked in their Reserve / Igloo Ghetto or be sent to the Death Panels.

Posted by: cxyehonala | November 15, 2010 10:21 AM | Report abuse

Seek help, please, sir or madam.

Posted by: JohnDinHouston | November 15, 2010 12:19 PM | Report abuse

bubbasouth wrote:
“most exciting segment showed Sarah at home in her jogging shorts.”

Great comment as usual. It looks like the matchup in 2012 will be:

Palin/cxyehonala –versus- divtune/bubbasouth … (or bubbasouth/divtune if you win the primary)

Posted by: divtune | November 15, 2010 12:22 PM | Report abuse


The genocide against the Native Americans was launched with the Indian Appropriations Act of 1871 -- this was the work of the entirely Republican Ulysses Grant and a long series of Republican Congresses. Blaming it on liberals is idiotic. And we don't loathe Palin because she's an Indian: we despise her because she's dangerously clueless, because she's to the right of Mussolini, because she's a crook, and because her political tactics would make the Gestapo blanche. This is a woman who put out a political hit ON HER OWN MOTHER IN LAW.

Posted by: liatalcott | November 15, 2010 12:29 PM | Report abuse

Petri quipped:
"If real life were like this, to paraphrase a member of the Palin clan, I would be outside 24/7 eating popcorn on a chair."
I wrote this on the back of my hand so I can read it whenever I feel depressed or bored. Unfortunately, I just got kicked out of English class for giggling!

Posted by: divtune | November 15, 2010 12:30 PM | Report abuse

my guess petri is that you watch the jay leno show every night; you have the same sick ideas about 'humor'.

Posted by: 4thstreet | November 15, 2010 12:34 PM | Report abuse

We're always told how the Liberals are not mean-spirited or hateful.
But when I see how they continually treat Sarah Palin I realize that Liberals are liars, and among the meanest hateful people I know.

We're always told how open-minded and fair Liberals are.
But when you read thier comments about others you realize how small-minded and snarky they really are.

Liberalism is a mental illness.

Posted by: HawkSprings | November 15, 2010 12:42 PM | Report abuse

Eating popcorn must be about as much of an outdoorsy activity to which Ms. Petri ever indulges. Many people who live in Alaska enjoy hunting and fishing.

Get over it.

Posted by: edbyronadams | November 15, 2010 12:59 PM | Report abuse

HawkSprings, thank you for letting me know that “Liberalism is a mental illness.” I called my psychiatrist and discovered that you are absolutely correct. In fact, the new DSM-V manual of mental illness has this entry:

290.69 Dementia of Liberal Type
_1: Bleeding from ears after hearing Sarah Palin’s voice
_2: Rapid breathing when Sarah Palin appears in jogging shorts.
_3: Inability to understand what “ya betcha” means.
_4: Fantasizing about beheading turkeys.

Fortunately, my psychiatrist prescribed a medication that cures this mental disorder. Unfortunately, it’s only available in California. I’m smoking it now!

Posted by: divtune | November 15, 2010 1:26 PM | Report abuse

If the dog 'elopes' with the elk or a nearby parakeet ..... She's got a hit country / western chart topping song.

Cha Ching...

Posted by: deepthroat21 | November 15, 2010 1:33 PM | Report abuse

If the dog 'elopes' with the elk or a nearby parakeet ..... She's got a hit country / western chart topping song.

Cha Ching...

Posted by: deepthroat21 | November 15, 2010 1:34 PM | Report abuse

HawkSprings, you seem to forget the fabulous Mrs. Palin is a PUBLIC figure and she has made her delightful family a public spectacle.

Mean? You mean like conservatives calling Mrs. Obama a gorilla? Or Mr. Obama a terrorist? Hmmmm....remind me again which political philosophy is mean...I don't think being conservative is a mental illness, I just think you are mentally ill.

Posted by: arancia12 | November 15, 2010 3:38 PM | Report abuse

perhaps an obama show,
on the beauty and splendor
of Jakarta....

Posted by: simonsays1 | November 15, 2010 4:06 PM | Report abuse

Enough already of this media creation.

Posted by: whocares666 | November 15, 2010 4:08 PM | Report abuse

5 million households, the first night. Enough said. Its a hit. I thought the scenery was terrific. I have been to Alaska and it is maybe the most beautiful state. Those Palin haters who missed it can watch the rerun tonight at 10pm.

Posted by: demxnomore | November 15, 2010 4:31 PM | Report abuse

Amusing review. (That was a caribou head, btw.)

I wish this show really depicted Sarah Palin's Alaska--the township of Wasilla, agreed by all to be the ugliest town in Alaska; the giant Walmart and Target up the road; the motel within spitting distance of their house; the bill she introduced while governor that would have permitted shooting grizzly/brown bears from airplanes.

But never mind; Alaskans understand that this show is far more fantasy than reality. If only she'd stop claiming she made it to help Alaskans. She hasn't done a thing in her life that wasn't meant to help herself, and only herself.

Posted by: BlueDog1 | November 15, 2010 9:28 PM | Report abuse

Enjoyed the show very much. Sarah Palin is a multi-talented lady and surely even leftists must think so secretly. She seems so happy, healthy and genuine......especially when compared with the brooding, tortured, cigarette-smoking Obama.

Posted by: hit4cycle | November 16, 2010 3:22 PM | Report abuse

There's an incredible amount of petty bickering and complaining going on here.

Let's put things in perspective. Several years ago, before the hatchet-press began their slimy slander, Sarah Palin had a popularity rating of well over 80% here in Alaska because she was an effective leader who fairly beat incumbent Gov. Frank Murkowski (Lisa's dad) in the election for Governor. She then publicly told the State Legislature to their faces that they 'need some adult supervision', which was true. She was a popular and respected administrator who was doing just fine, before the oppressive hatchet-press boot came down on she and her family in mid-2008.

Sure, Sarah isn't perfect, but who among us is? Katie Couric? Tina Fey? As a long-time Alaskan, I challenge the whiners and 'experts' who're taking cheap shots at the Palin's to subject themselves and everyone in their family to as much negative press and unfounded petty lawsuits, etc. as the Palin's have received, over the past couple of years, and still come out on top.

I also challenge the gripers to be bold enough to come up with the name of any other woman whom they would PREFER to be a popular and effective national leader in the near future, who would abide by the Constitution and all that it means, and who would pull our country out of the mess that it's in. Hillary Clinton? Nancy Pelosi? Barbara Boxer? (Gag me with a spoon, they're part of the crew that put us in the mess in the first place.)

For 2012 I think it would be very interesting to see a Chris Christie / Sarah Palin ticket.

Posted by: OldCurmudgeon1 | November 16, 2010 8:46 PM | Report abuse

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