CBS’ upcoming reality show “Kid Nation” has generated a fair amount of pre-season buzz because of its provocative conceit of sending 40 kids to a remote spot in Bonanza, N.M. to fend for themselves, “Lord of the Flies” style. (Click here for a promo clip.) The show’s sesh during last month’s Television Critics Assn. press tour caused quite a hubbub among TV scribes, who questioned the propriety of the whole concept, among other things. (Variety’s Brian Lowry was among the first to opine on the matter in this column from May. And Variety’s Joe Adalian was the first to break the news of the show to the world a few weeks earlier just before CBS unveiled it at its upfront.)
CBS isn’t backing away from any of the drama, billing the show as “40 Kids, 40 Days, No Parents.” Ostensible goal is for the tykes and teens (aged 8-15) to “form a new society in a ghost town that died in the 19th century.” And generate ratings to help kick off CBS’ fall slate. According to Eye’s press materials, there’ll be no eliminations on this show, only a Town Hall meeting at the end of each seg in which kids can say bye-bye and head home if they want to.
CBS is promising that the reality moppets will create their “government” with four kid leaders selected from the group, and the whole bunch of them will tough it out frontier-style (with only camera crews to keep them company), cooking their own meals, scrubbing their own outhouses and running their own establishments including the town saloon. Soft drinks only, natch. The end game is for the kids to decide who gets the $20,000 Gold Star. I guess the lure for adult viewers will be to pick which kids are going to have a major case of homesickness, and how quickly the situation devolves into food fights and temper tantrums.