Watched: Kid Nation Highlights

I watched it, did you?

I know there’s been a lot of poo-pooing about this show from like moment one.  I’ve been skeptical & excited & worried & confused, etc.  But I was hit with this devil’s advocate-like epiphany last week.  There are so many lovely people concerned with the overall ethics surrounding the concept & production – I thought I’d step off that bandwagon and hang out, check out the other side of “Kid Nation”– the side that somehow got the show on television in the first place.

So– my first thought: If I were a kid, I’d be DYING to be part of it.

That’s the type of kid I was (and still am for that matter).  You name the show: Double Dare, Reading Rainbow, Discovery’s Endurance (this show reminded me a LOT of that), those PBS documentaries where kids would get hauled off to the Amazon for a study about rainforest, etc… Any opportunity to stand up and try to be bigger than I am– to be a hero, to be an adventurer, to be INCLUDED… rock on.

I know I am not going to sway anyone from watching it, or liking it, etc.  I respect everyone fighting the GOOD fight in protecting the integrity of youth, etc.  But here is why I’ve decided to like the show as a VIEWER :

  •  Mike, 11, one of the 4 chosen leaders of the town, standing up to Greg, 14– who was trying to “help” situations by displaying a few bully-like tendancies.  Mike shot him down! –Greg is the biggest/oldest kid there… and he was shut down by Mike.  It was amazing.  Chalk one up for the younger/less “street cool” kids.  After their little “show down” in front of the whole town– Mike courageously & awesomely walked up to Greg and shook his hand, hoping everything was “cool”.  Mike reminds me of a kid hero in tween lit books– smart, a bit nerdy, strong moral core developing faster than his body can catch up, the kid who stands up for the weaker kids, trying to be the best by all.  Like Bastian from The Neverending Story (great book, btw)
  • Michael, 14, noticing the chaos at a town meeting– takes matters into his own hands and gives a rousing speech about how this is THEIR chance to show the world that kids CAN do anything!  Take that anti-kid nay-sayers!!!!!!
  • Jared, 11.  Anything out of this kid’s mouth is priceless.  Oh, my… he’s unique… but that’s why he’s my favorite.  I always chose these “imaginative” kids to be in my group in camp.  They beat to their own drummer– and thats just a joy to see.  The whole “dark chocolate” purchase was fantasic– as well as his book choice.  I’d love to know if he actually hacked his way through Shakespeare on his own.
  • Jimmy, 8, making the grown up decision “I’m just not old enough to be here.”  GOOD ON HIM!  And then to have the guts to shoot down Greg, who offered (sweetly, I thought) for Jimmy to be his “wing man”.
  • Sophia, 14, being such a great young lady– responsible and kind… and when she won the star and went to call her mother?  I was sobbing.  SOBBING.  Her voice when she first spoke to her mom was priceless.  I bet her mother is just bursting at the seem with pride.
  • The kids choosing the MUCH needed pottys over the tv, despite the look of longing as they stared at it.

Anyway– love the show, hate the show, ignore the show… regardless.  From a public viewing standpoint, it’s AMAZING to find YOURSELF being empowered and PROUD of these kids representing the public/youth.

I know, I know, I know… it’s probably staged at times, and you’ve got editors selecting the right bits to share to evoke emotional response from viewers.  But think about that– that in ITSELF does deserve a bit of credit.  Why?  Because: The Ripple Effect.

Hundreds of families/kids will watch this show.  Kids, tweens, teens often mirror/mimick/ learn from others to find their way.  I’m interested in the good this show MAY do for the viewers… to watch and learn and explore.  Kids expressing themselves, trying to make a difference, building confidence, stepping up to bullies, acknowledging help, taking care of one another– THAT is the side of Kid Nation that I’m interested in.

Will this show build role models?   I don’t know.  With all of the demanding-question marks looming from the ethical theory of this show, the criticism, the frustrated media, the safety, etc… only time will tell.

Or maybe I’m just hoping for the best.  It wouldn’t be the first time.

  1. September 20, 2007 at 9:11 pm

    It is great to read a post where someone is talking about the positive aspects of the show. Kid Nation isn’t the type of show I would normally watch, but it wasn’t as boring as some critics are saying. I think perhaps they need to get their kids to review it for them :-). This is a show that adults and kids can watch together, but I think the main target audience should be kids. They would enjoy it the most.

  2. Sara M. Grimes
    September 21, 2007 at 7:40 am

    I taped last night’s show and just watched it tonight between writing sessions – and I have to say that although I was expecting to find a lot to criticize (particularly with all the coverage last month around rumors of child exploitation, to which I contributed I’m sure) so far I’m really into it. I found all of the kids really cool and likable, and think they were probably cast that way, despite some interpersonal tensions and shallow attempts at type-casting by the show’s producers/editors. The way the kids pulled it together over the course of the first episode blew my mind – adult assistance or not, their organizational abilities and performances to date way outshone any of the adult reality show casts I’ve seen lately. My fingers are crossed that the (generally) positive tone of the show and the camaraderie between the kids continues.

  3. DK
    September 21, 2007 at 10:07 am

    In the UK so only seen the trailer from the show but thanks for sharing your thoughts and insights – I’m the founder of MediaSnackers, a site/weblog/project/call to action for people interested in how young people consume and create media across the globe – obviously this show has caught our attention…

    Thanks again for the balanced right up 🙂


    MediaSnackers founder

  4. friend of jared
    September 22, 2007 at 6:42 pm

    I happen to know that Jared did get thru the book on his own. Which is amazing since the copy that he had was not written in modern english. I have known him for years and nothing that he says suprises me anymore. He is as comfortable quoting shakespeare or discussing einsteins theories with retired scientists from nasa. A really fun kid. I have already watched the show a couple of times. The first time I watched it it was with Jared. He provided a great runnning commentary on the lines that were cut but wouldn’t tell us anything about what was to come. I am hoping that I get invited to watch the show with him again.

  5. September 22, 2007 at 6:58 pm

    Hey– Friend of Jared… ROCK ON! That just puts a cherry on the sundae of awesomeness with Jared. I hope no one (school, peer pressure, etc) ever bursts that bubble of AWESOMENESS.

    If Jared’s folks are up to it- we’re putting together a podcast for media professions (and anyone who just wants to hear Joi Podgorny and I ramble about kid entertainment, media, online communities, etc. We’d love to have him join us via Skype to chat about his experience, etc.

  6. September 22, 2007 at 6:58 pm


  7. friend of jared
    October 5, 2007 at 1:30 am

    I am sure that Jared would love to join you via skype but he said that he has to have permission to do anything public while the show is on. But you should continue watching we love it.

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