Bristol is back. Following on the heels of last year's polarizing stint on Dancing With the Stars, Bristol Palin returns to reality TV Tuesday night, this time on her own show, Bristol Palin: Life's a Tripp. The series, which airs on Lifetime, follows the eldest Palin daughter's move from Alaska to Los Angeles. In tow are her toddler son Tripp and sister/babysitter Willow. The premiere finds Bristol starting work at a charity called Help the Children and arguing with a heckler at a bar. Among the choice adjectives critics are hurling at the show: "Inept," "just plain sad," "dull," and "depressing." Is it really that bad?
Bristol has zero star power: Bristol has tried for years to maintain her notoriety — writing a book, competing on Dancing With the Stars, and now starring on her own reality show, says David Wiegand at The San Francisco Chronicle. But "she's just not that interesting." She has no Hills-like glamour, and she's too plain and predictable to be an "Alaskan Snooki." Bristol usually keeps a level head, and even when she breaks down, as she does after confronting the heckler, she's just not that captivating. "You probably wouldn't watch [the new show] if she wasn't who she is."
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And the show is really misguided: Lifetime pitched Life's a Tripp as a series about a young mother struggling to raise her child, and in that regard, it's an utter failure, says James Poniewozik at TIME. "There's just not much child-rearing going on." Instead, we see Bristol at a boutique; Bristol at Starbucks; Bristol at a bar. The apparent message: Get pregnant as a teenager, and soon you'll have the benefit of "a reality-TV crew to help you keep your child safe around your palatial home's numerous water features!"
But Bristol doesn't deserve all the blame: Perhaps Bristol would have proved more entertaining in a series that doesn't stumble so "blindly over the ghostly rubble and ruined format of what was once commonly known as a reality show," says Hank Steuver at The Washington Post. Everything reeks of reality TV tropes: The massive SUVs Bristol cruises around in, the insipid boutiques where she shops, her Beverly Hills mansion that looks like a Bachelorette set, the blatantly staged conversations, the annoyingly visible microphone packs. Bristol has no chance to shine because her reality show itself is maddeningly unreal.
Consensus: Life's a Tripp is as insipid as reality TV shows come, but really loyal Palin fans may wring some enjoyment out of it.
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