‘Kid Nation’: Root Beer Can’t Make You Drunk

Courtesy of CBS

To recap: In last night’s best-ever episode of the greatest reality show of all time, as Bonanza City was torn apart by religious differences, the adorable contestants proved that children can be just as ignorant as adults. Some kids got homesick, everyone came to hate Taylor more, and the town chose a set of holy books over a miniature golf course. But can we talk about two things?

First off, what is up with the fake drinking? In previous episodes it was merely funny — an allusion for adults, like the jokes in Pixar movies that are meant to sail over kids’ heads. But now it’s getting ridiculous. A homesick 9-year-old pining for his girlfriend heads for the saloon “to drink root beer to get her off my mind.” A group of kids confronts Taylor for her laziness, yelling: “Look at you in the saloon, drinking shots!” Taylor stares into space and clumsily pours clear liquid into a shot glass, then starts laughing maniacally. “Let us yellow district be embarrassed!” she slurs, clearly having fun doing an impression of a drunk person. Sure, it’s funny for adults, but for all the criticisms of Kid Nation (chicken killing, child labor), the suggestion that one can drown their sorrows in root beer strikes us as the show’s most irresponsible element (mostly because root beer can’t actually get you drunk — shame on you, producers!).

Secondly, can we talk about the cold sores? Each angelic face suddenly appears to be covered in Herpes Simplex 1. While it makes a good drinking game (pageant queen Taylor’s sore alone was worth three drinks), we haven’t see this many cold sores since Spinal Tap. Also, Greg had it first. Hmmm…

As mentioned, in this episode the show’s producers decided that religion would tear the kids apart and bring them back together as they learned a lesson of tolerance blah blah blah. Along the way, kids said really stupid things, like Divad, 11: “We can’t have all religions in one room without starting arguments. I know that for a fact. Would you put a Democrat and a Republican in the same room? It’s like putting Hindus and Christians in the same room.”

And really surprising things, like Alex, 9 (a.k.a. “The Smartest Kid There”): “There are a lot of things that are central to all religions and we could just focus on that.” Later, Alex brings out a map and tries to explain to his drooling fellow pioneers the difference between Sunnis and Shiites, making the 9-year-old more knowledgeable about the subject than our own president and counterterrorism experts.

Vulture’s favorite kid, Jared, talks about being made fun of for being Jewish, then creeps out his bunkmates by meditating in the Lotus position, and later declares “I want to be a snowman!” Jared was definitely raised by the Fockers.

In the end, “motherly” Morgan wins the gold star, heartsick Cody tearfully goes home, and grown-up host Jonathan Karsh can’t resist the urge to comment on the kids’ constant criticism of Taylor’s leadership: “Taylor, you either have a very thick skin or you just don’t listen.” Taylor smiles, confirming the latter, and our last glimpse of Bonanza City is of Cody’s best friend, Campbell, crying over the loss of his friend into a root-beer stein at the saloon.

Next week: Democracy comes to Bonanza City as elections are held. Taylor yells “I’m gonna wee-yun!” Here’s hoping Taylor’s dispassionate conservatism and laziness platform will hold a tiny Barbie mirror up to society once again! —Lindsay Robertson

‘Kid Nation’: Root Beer Can’t Make You Drunk