‘Sarah Palin’s Alaska’ Finale Leaves Key Questions Unanswered

Two questions remained unanswered as “Sarah Palin’s Alaska” came to an end Sunday night on TLC: Will the show ever have a second season? And, will Sarah Palin run for president in 2012?

The first question on a followup season was not addressed at all, but the second one – about Palin’s presidential aspirations (if any) – was teased throughout the second hour of Sunday’s two-hour finale, with Sarah being asked by an Anchorage morning radio personality if she’ll run in 2012. You saw her on a cellphone being asked the question in several “teases” during the show designed to keep you tuned in until the end, at which time Sarah gave a disappointing non-answer.

“It’s still an unanswered question,” she said, evading it completely. She did promise that if she ever announces that she’s running, she’ll announce it first on this Anchorage morning show – apparently the “The Bob and Mark Show” on KWHL-FM, “K-Whale.”

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There are those who believe that the decision to produce a second season of her TV show and the decision to launch a campaign for president are mutually exclusive – that Palin can’t possibly say yes to both. One pundit, writing on TheAtlantic.com, believes a second season of her TV show “would prevent a serious campaign from materializing.” He also writes that production on her show would be “inconvenient” because it would disrupt her ability to travel the country making stump speeches.

We happen to disagree. If Sarah Palin wanted to do a second season of “Sarah Palin’s Alaska,” the shows could be produced this coming summer, with plenty of time left over for Palin to dive into campaigning for 2012. After all, candidates crave exposure on TV, especially TV they can control. A prime-time TV show like this is a rare opportunity for a political candidate. We happen to think she’d be crazy not to give a second season a go.

Meanwhile, what happened on the final night of “Sarah Palin’s Alaska”? Nothing too unusual, especially for those of us who stuck with this weekly Alaska travelogue through the preceding seven episodes. There was more prospecting for gold (something we’d already seen a couple of episodes ago) – this time on a beach on the Bering Sea. And there were more encounters with animals, both wild and domesticated (musk ox, reindeer, a moose) – though none of them lost their lives.

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Indeed, affection took the place of violence in these meetings between Palin and beast, though Sarah declined to participate in the Alaskan pastime of “moose-kissing” (the name given to the mouth-to-mouth feeding of a banana to a domesticated moose).

Sarah and family went kayaking on a glacial lake, four-wheeling (again), and blueberry picking. Throughout Sunday’s two hours (as she has throughout this entire series), Sarah repeatedly asserted how dangerous and risky these activities could be. “Anything could go wrong at any time,” she stated more than once, when setting foot on a glacier or watching her brother prepare to dive for gold. She makes it sound like she’s risking life and limb every time she steps outdoors, but nothing ever happens.

In Sunday’s second hour – a bonus episode, you might call it – Sarah and family reviewed some of the highlights of the season, from the controversial caribou hunt to the aborted camping trip with Kate Gosselin. Sarah and her dad conceded the caribou hunt was “controversial,” but were dismissive of the criticism the hunt received after that episode aired.

Sarah and her family packed a lot of activities into nine hours of television. The question is: If she comes back for another season, what is there left to show us about life in Sarah Palin’s Alaska?

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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