Portrayed as a “Lord of the Flies” type scenario with minimal adult intervention, _Kid Nation_ turns out to be fairly standard reality show fare. The movie set town that the kids inhabit had electricity and running water, but it was shut off for the production (except when it was not, for the purposes of various “challenges”). The kids lived alone, except for the large and ever-present crew of cameramen and producers. They had to build their own society, except that the structures of the society were imposed above, including a pre-selected town council, the edict that the children must be divided into four teams (and wear colorful bandanas to match), and the economics of the town that created social classes, including a ridiculous “upper class” that had no required work and earned the most money. All supplies were provided, including candy and games.
I don’t doubt the kids had to work hard. I don’t doubt that they were challenged by being away from their homes and families and friends for over a month. We know that mistakes and injuries did occur on set, including an unfortunate incident with bleach. But if the aim was to show that “real kids” can create a “real” and functioning society, all that was tossed out the window on day one, when the “Town Council” was brought in by helicopter while the rest of the kids traveled by yellow school bus.
I was hoping to see a show where adults were mostly hidden, cameras were mostly embedded (a la _Big Brother_), and kids were given guidance when they asked for it but no rules. What sort of government would they set up? How would they ration and divide the food? Would they have to farm? Slaughter livestock? Repair damaged buildings and transportation? Would the make candles? How about sanitation? Who would do the washing? If an adult guide (or two) could be accessible to suggest the proper course, that would be great. But instead we have producers feeding kids lines, scenes being re-shot, and all the usual trappings of a scripted and controlled television show.
That’s fine, but its not what we were told we were getting. It was certainly too much to ask or expect that _Kid Nation_ would be any different than the usual “reality” of television. I don’t know why I thought any differently.