Kid Nation populated by… orphans?

Flight 29 Down and Trading Spaces: Boys vs. Girls. They’re growing up, I guess.

I’m not really sure how the developing CBS primetime show Kid Nation has escaped my notice until now, but yesterday I was surfing around and saw that Cynthia Littleton blogged about it over at Variety:

CBS isn’t backing away from any of the drama, billing the show as “40 Kids, 40 Days, No Parents.” Ostensible goal is for the tykes and teens (aged 8-15) to “form a new society in a ghost town that died in the 19th century.” And generate ratings to help kick off CBS’ fall slate. According to Eye’s press materials, there’ll be no eliminations on this show, only a Town Hall meeting at the end of each seg in which kids can say bye-bye and head home if they want to.

CBS is promising that the reality moppets will create their “government” with four kid leaders selected from the group, and the whole bunch of them will tough it out frontier-style (with only camera crews to keep them company), cooking their own meals, scrubbing their own outhouses and running their own establishments including the town saloon. Soft drinks only, natch. The end game is for the kids to decide who gets the $20,000 Gold Star. I guess the lure for adult viewers will be to pick which kids are going to have a major case of homesickness, and how quickly the situation devolves into food fights and temper tantrums.

I’m… speechless. (Good thing I only have to type, not talk, here.) Granted, the show idea is an interesting one. I can see the lure for both kids and adults. I can see how it must sound like a ratings-grabber. And I’ve checked out some other commentary, elsewhere, mostly wherein people are decrying CBS for “allowing” this. You know—they’re the big bad network, so it must be something wrong they’ve done, in making this show.

Um, I have a different point of view. I think CBS is brilliant. I don’t see how a project like this can fail, ratings-wise. And that’s what they’re after. No, my question is this:

Do any of these 40 children have parents? Who allows an eight-year-old to go spend 40 days all Lord of the Flies-ish with no adults? Who??

I don’t fault CBS one bit. But as a parent I cannot imagine what any of the Kid Nation parents were thinking. Apparently all of the kids are real overachiever types, too, which sort of rules out the “well they were slacker kids the parents couldn’t stand, anyway” hypothesis.

Hey, my kids drive me nuts sometimes, too, but I don’t send them to New Mexico with no parental supervision for a month and a half when they do. Sheesh.

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