Olivia_kidnation_240Kids today have absolutely no appreciation for quality comedy. That explains both the baffling ongoing success of Dane Cook and the results of Wednesday (Nov. 7) night’s Kid Nation.

[Don’t make me spoil the results of the Bonanza City Talent Show for you, because I’ll do it.]

This week’s Diary-explained Thing That Brought Down Bonanza City was "boredom," nicely established by the activity-starved Sophia’s decision to stretch out in the middle of the road and then the fact that at least a dozen kids joined her, just for kicks. If this were 15 years ago, we’d have blamed Sophia’s stunt on The Program.

"Would you like to know one of the causes of the Dark Ages? They ditched art and entertainment," Jared explained.

The town council was inspired to hold a talent show (and by "inspired," I mean "essentially told by the Pioneer Diary"). Set off against preparations for the show were the introductions of several new kids and 10-year-old Savannah’s desire to leave.

Migle_kidnation_240The New Kids. I think we’ve seen Kennedy in the background before, but never heard her speak. This week she amused everybody with her wacky antics, helped Savannah cook a Kentucky Dinner and was basically everywhere (as you’ll see). There’s no mystery why we haven’t met Migle and Natasha — described by Alex as the town’s Paris and Nicole, they prefer to stay in their bunks giggling about clothes and boys to working. Surely this should have set up a double-showmance with Greg and Blaine, but instead the big guys had to threaten the ditzy girls with throwing the showdown to make them work. Oh and we also met Campbell, who likes sugar.

This Showdown. Because there aren’t enough questions of hygiene surrounding a town of messy kids with spotty plumbing and cleaning facilities, this week’s challenge found our intrepid pioneers doing paint-by-numbers art with used wads of gun. That involved the kids running back and forth between a candy machine, grabbing gumballs, chewing quickly and passing the spitty goo to their council leaders, who put the oral discharge on a canvas. The result at the end? A big canvas full of guck. Far be it for me to question the aesthetic merits of their end product, but I just don’t get modern art. Led by Laurel, who chomped away despite her braces, the Green Team won their first showdown. Despite threatening to throw the challenge, Greg and Blaine pulled their weight and Blue was second, followed by Red. Zach’s gum refused to stay on the board and, as a result, Yellow finished last.

The Talent Show. No aptitude was more hotly speculated on than Olivia’s announced desire to do stand-up comedy ("I don’t know that that is, but I’m quite scared of it," Anjay said). In the end, Olivia’s material was based largely on how Anjay smiles a lot and how Greg and Blaine are jokes. It was neither funny, nor a train wreck and at least she didn’t spend much time discussing the differences between the ways black people and white people drive. Let’s just say she’s no Elaine Boosler. Also falling in the "neither funny, nor a train wreck" category was Jared’s Shakespearean monologue ("I figured out that it was a bad idea, but I already signed up," he admitted), for which his effort deserves credit. Greg and Blaine proved Oliva’s point by doing a version of Romeo and Juliet that made Baz Luhrmann look like a traditionalist. Campbell did a bird call, Jasmine sang and Kelsey played the piano so well Guylan joked that he thought Chopin had risen from the dead. The showstopper, at least to the assembled crowd, was Kennedy, who donned a bird mask and a pink boa and rapped and danced.

Kennedy_kidnation_240The Gold Star. If Divad had a talent (beyond frying potatoes in hot oil), the editors didn’t show it, but that didn’t stop her from nominating herself for the Gold Star. Nobody else joined her, but lots of people were split between Olivia and Kennedy. In the end, it was a vote of weirdness versus alternative weirdness, and Kennedy was triumphant (it helped that she worked hard and was credited with convincing Savannah to stay). The editors made it look like Olivia was a bad sport about losing, which I don’t really buy, since she was one of the people who nominated Kennedy. I totally buy Divad’s bitterness.

Other thoughts from this week’s episode:

  • If we make it through 40 days and Laurel doesn’t get a Gold Star simply because nobody has thought to see if council members can win by acclamation, it’ll be a real shame. Kudos to DK for making Laurel sing at the town meeting, since I’d never have guessed the tough-talking Massachusetts native would have that kind of voice.
  • This was the rare Showdown where the kids didn’t get reward and naturally this was the first time the choice wouldn’t have been a "Wholesome vs. Fun" showdown. Even the stuffy council would have taken the block party over a couple cans of paint, right?
  • Another low-key week for Taylor, who just expressed minor disgust at male undergarments. I don’t judge her for that.

    What’d you think of the episode? Did Olivia and Kennedy have you in stitches?

  • Posted by:Daniel Fienberg