"Sarah Palin's Alaska" performed well last night. The premiere of the eight-part series drew 4.92 million viewers, which was TLC's biggest series launch ever. It wasn't TLC's most watched episode ever, though; that, um, honor belongs to "Jon & Kate Plus Eight," which drew some 10 million viewers around the time the couple was breaking up.
Of course, the real ratings test comes this coming Sunday. Most shows lose viewers after their hyped premieres, while the lucky few grow from good word of mouth. TBS's "Conan," for example, premiered with 4.2 million viewers last Monday, but slipped consistently across the week to finish with 2 million on Thursday night -- an average of 2.9 million viewers for the week.
In the advance hype for "Sarah Palin's Alaska," executive producer Mark Burnett described the reality show as "completely non political" in the Daily Beast. "It's absolutely not trying to show one thing or the other. She is showing everything." But I found the premiere pretty obviously shaped to show Palin in a certain flattering and defensive light. Here's my review, in which I call the series "one of the most naked examples of image-crafting Iíve seen in a while. With the conventions of reality TV at her service, the former vice presidential candidate delivers a portrait of herself, her family, and her home state thatís relentless in its messages of wholesomeness and in its justifications of her past."
About Viewer Discretion
ContributorsKatie McLeod is Boston.com's features editor.
Rachel Raczka is a producer for Lifestyle and Arts & Entertainment at Boston.com.
Emily Wright is an Arts & Entertainment producer at Boston.com.
Sarah Rodman is a TV and music critic for the Boston Globe.
Meghan Colloton is a Things to Do and Arts & Entertainment producer at Boston.com.
Michael Brodeur is the assistant arts editor for the Boston Globe, covering pop music, TV, and nightlife.