The Lifetime program menu on my cable is telling me that “Bristol Palin: Life’s a Tripp” has another two new episodes premiering tonight. A reported (measly) 726,000 viewers tuned in to the debut of “Life’s a Tripp” last week, compared to her mom’s show that had nearly 5 million.
Is Lifetime just getting the pain over with? Or maybe they’re just trying to show all the episodes before it gets hit with more lawsuits.
Picking up where we left off last time, Willow has returned to Alaska, with hair as high as the Rockies (those go to Alaska, right?). Sister Willow is one of those girls who laughs while she’s talking but there’s nothing funny going on. She describes L.A. as a “bunch of liberals” to her friend Andy, who’s working in a garage on some sort of ATV.
Bristol’s still in L.A., but now has moved out of her mom’s friend’s mansion and into a beautiful apartment. Tripp is looking adorable in Carhartt overalls. They call “Papa” Todd Palin. In a confessional, Bristol says that she needs Willow to come back to L.A and help her. She complains that she has to take Tripp to a daycare so she can “work” at Help the Children. We see her at work there for just a few brilliant seconds where they put Bristol in charge of driving a forklift, which she is definitely not qualified to do.
Later, Bristol, 21, calls to whine to Willow that she needs her there, even though she has been treating her like hired help. They have a highly contrived conversation about Levi Johnston’s impending book release. ‘It’s going to be hell,” the sage Willow says.
Willow returns to L.A. and walks from the town car to the apartment like an inmate returning to the cell block. She walks in the door and, as if on cue, Tripp acts like the toddler he is and refuses to greet his aunt. There’s a bad edit and then they’re talking about Levi’s book again. Bristol does an amazing impersonation of Levi while the girls discuss Tripp’s birth: “That’s so gross, I’m not cutting the umbilical cord.” As Bristol opines on and on that she wishes anyone else could have been Tripp’s dad, little Tripp sits in the middle looking adorably confused.
Somewhere in the pantheon of reality TV, the outdoor restaurant setting has become the default and ideal place for staged conversations. And that’s where the girls and Tripp are to once again talk about Levi’s book. When they spot a paparazzo, Bristol dares Tripp to mug for the camera. A flock of photographers quickly show up and then cut to Bristol’s voice: “It’s weird that my family’s under such close scrutiny all the time. … I wouldn’t wish this on anyone.” Except herself and her son, apparently.
Bristol is seemingly obsessed with Levi’s book and with saying how little it means to her. To “get her mind off” the book, she takes her friends to visit a shooting range and puts the book on a stake where she proceeds to blast it with a gun. No, seriously, it means nothing to her.
Reflecting later while sitting on Venice Beach, Bristol has decided to return to Alaska and proudly states that being in L.A. has taught her that she can do it all by herself, just be on her own with Tripp. The editors must have cut out the part where she says, “Except for all of that help I begged and guilt-tripped Willow into giving me.” And with that, Bristol and L.A. break up for good. Help the Children, we hardly knew you and your awful maroon polo shirt uniform.
The next episode (thanks, Lifetime!), we’re back in Alaska. Bristol is in her apartment with Gino, the hunter with the heart of gold. He wins our hearts back again quickly, saying, “I don’t know who wouldn’t want to be Tripp’s dad.” Gino – the most mature person on this show so far, including Sarah – calmly discusses a plan with Bristol to talk to Levi about a more stable custody agreement for Tripp. Bristol says that she doesn’t want Gino in on the conversation for fear that Levi will get jealous. As if they were talking about showing up to a high school party as a couple, not having an adult conversation that involves all of them. Bristol makes her third un-answered phone call to Levi, which, for the record Lifetime, does not make for highly compelling television.
In a total non-sequitur scene, Bristol talks to Willow’s friend Andy, who explains how he has only met his dad twice, and how great his mom is. He opens up to Bristol about what his life is like missing such a big piece like his dad. The males on this show are the only redeeming factors at all.
After a failed attempt at a meet-up with Levi where he didn’t show, Bristol realizes Gino’s the best thing she and Tripp have going. The three of them bake cookies and Tripp eats raw cookie dough before Bristol squirts canned frosting into his mouth. This is what passes for a heartwarming scene on “Life’s a Tripp,” but it actually kind of works.