I'm only half-joking with this question, and I know it sounds horrible, but it went through my head during tonight's Kid Nation: At what age do people stop referring to a horrible little girl as a "brat" and start referring to her as a "bitch"? (To avoid unwarranted charges of sexism, we can ask the same thing about boys, perhaps substituting "asshole" for "bitch"–people don't call little boys "asshole," do they?) I don't want to call 10-year-old Bonanza terror Taylor the B-word–she's too young to have earned it!–but damn, she's really pushing the limits.
And yes, clearly, the producers are manipulating what we see and don't see, but taken in any context, some of things that Taylor does and says make her seem like an evil little beast that will grow up to make a lot of people unhappy (and probably a lot of money!). The first chunk of tonight's episode focused on the garbage problem the children of Bonanza face, as if all of a sudden they realized there was a pile of rotting food in the middle of town. (Repeated shots of a rat and clearly fake buzzing fly sounds helped make the case for viewers, but really, do you notice this all of a sudden?)
Anyway, they realize they need to clean it up, so the kids–with new councilman Zach, who replaced Taylor, at the helm–drag all of their shit out of town and bury it. When Zach tells Taylor she needs to help, she tells him to shave his unibrow. (Her mom must be a charmer, too.) Other choice Taylor quotes, as she refuses to do any work to help the community that's feeding her: "They're just dictators," "They're not the boss of me." Is this the grown-up-under-GWB attitude of the future?
So she's a horrible beast for most of show, refusing to do work, almost getting in a physical fight, etc. She drives poor D.K. to madness, along with some other fun-having kids. Then there's the challenge: The kids get in a giant vat full of baked beans and real, live pigs, and they need to fish out colored cans–just like they did in the Old West. Choice quote from Taylor during the challenge: "I want to kill those pigs SO BAD."
One team wins, another loses, the "all-town" prize is a choice between fresh vegetables (which they haven't had in 2.5 weeks) and dune buggies (which the dumb host tries to tie into some environmental theme that's not actually going on here). Most of the kids would clearly like fruits and vegetables, and when they choose them, Taylor–who of course wanted to ride around–says, "I hate you for the rest of your life."
But, as in real life, these kids have learned that there's really no punishment for behaving like a complete and utter shithead. Taylor has one little bratty friend (together, they're called the "beauty queens") who sticks by her, even as Zach threatens not to pay her if she doesn't do some dishes. But it's a foregone conclusion: She'll behave horribly, and the rest of this "society" will grudgingly take care of her. Yet another week that I long for some frontier justice that never arrives.
So, the meeting: sweet D.K. breaks down because he's the only one acting like an adult, and decides to leave. Taylor feels (a little) bad (she'll get over that quickly) because she knows she's an asshole (for a second, anyway). Guylan talks D.K. into staying, and everybody cries, laughs, and cries some more. D.K. is pretty great. But if this was a show full of D.K.'s, it'd be unbearably dull.
-- Thank God for TiVo, so I don't have to watch the Mr. Magorium's Palace Of My Moviegoing Nightmares commercial. Even watching it flicker by kicks my gag reflex. I'd rather watch Kid Nation for eternity than sit through that movie. The only possible way it could look worse is if Robin Williams starred instead of Dustin Hoffman.