Parents everywhere breathed a sigh of relief when 16-year-old Abby Sunderland was rescued in the Indian Ocean on Friday after her attempt to sail solo around the world met with disaster. Then reports broke that her cash-strapped father Lawrence Sunderland had begun shopping a reality TV show about his daring kids (Abby's brother Zac briefly held the record she was hoping to break) months before his much-criticized decision to let his daughter take her voyage. Did Sunderland endanger Abby's life for a shot at fame? (Watch Abby Sunderland's father defend his daughter's voyage)
Reality TV culture has spawned a female "Balloon Boy": We'll never really know if Sunderland wanted to sail the world alone, says Amanda St. Amand at St. Louis Today, but it seems likely that "a father anxious for a reality TV show paycheck" applied some pressure in this eerie replay of the "Balloon Boy" saga. Americans either need to "vote with their remote controls" to kill the programming that's unhinging these parents, or "the people behind reality TV" should "acquire some scruples."
"Should there be limits on minors and reality TV?"
Encouraging your children's talents shouldn't endanger them: It can be hard deciding whether to let your child "try to achieve goals in an area they are clearly talented in," says Maralee at Babble's Famecrawler blog. But risking "child endangerment" for cash is just "sinister." Sunderland might as well call his show "Watch and See If My Kid Dies Doing This Stupid Thing I should Not Have Allowed Them To Do."
"Did Abby Sunderland's parents endanger her life for a TV deal?"
The jury's still out on Sunderland's dad: If Lawrence Sunderland actually did endanger his daughter's life for reality TV fame, Americans have every right to be "shocked" and "angry," says Bonnie Fuller at Hollywood Life. But let's wait until Abby returns from her journey and tells her own story before condemning her father.
"Abby Sunderland's dad shopping a reality show - is she Balloon Girl?"
SEE MORE OF THE WEEK'S COVERAGE OF "BALLOON BOY":
• Jailing Balloon Boy's parents
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- The U.S. Marines are developing laser weapons. Here's why.
- 3 horrific inaccuracies in Homeland's depiction of Islamabad
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- How 1,000-year lifespans could remake the economy
- Why the Supreme Court is allowing Texas to hold an unconstitutional election
- 6 things the happiest families all have in common
- Gamergate has backfired spectacularly on its nincompoop perpetrators
- Ban PowerPoint!
- Rise of the machines
Subscribe to the Week