Reality Check: Sarah Palin gets back to reality with 'Amazing America'

Emily Fehrenbacher

I have spent a lot of time over the past couple of weeks watching the Sportsman Channel and I learned three important lessons: guns are what makes this country great and free, dogs like running the Iditarod and women like to fire guns too, thus making this country greater and freer.

Last week the Sportsman Channel aired a special on the 2014 Iditarod and premiered "Amazing America with Sarah Palin." A lot has been written in the entertainment, television and Alaska cosmos about "Amazing America," but let me give you the Reality Check scoop.

Alaska's former governor, turned vice-presidential candidate, turned reality TV star, turned Arizonian, turned Fox News correspondent, turned tea party activist, turned back into a reality TV star last week. But this time Sarah Palin is taking the back seat and telling other people's stories instead of her own. She has "rounded up a posse" of D-list comedians -- Jerry Carroll, Benny Spies and Mark Christopher Lawrence -- and they will travel the country looking for America's most patriotic of patriots.

Throughout the show, Palin speaks in a constant string of obnoxious platitudes about what makes our country great while wearing a "Girls with Guns" T-shirt. She and her "posse" put themselves in ridiculous situations with some interesting people. Jerry goes to Tennessee to hang with professional wrestler and cowboy James Storm, Mark goes to Montana to pop some caps with sharpshooter Julie Golob and Sarah heads up the road to Willow to chill with Alaska's other sweetheart, DeeDee Jonrowe.

I had two favorite moments in this show. One was when Palin fell off Jonrowe's dog sled. It was so funny that I watched it at least four times and laughed every single time. While writing this I just went back and watched it again. And laughed again. Palin handles it like a champ, too. Seriously, my top five simple pleasures in life: soft sweatshirts, soup, reading Wikipedia, happy hour deals and funny reality TV falls.

My second favorite moment was when Jerry went to Tennessee to hang out with Storm. When he got to Storm's house, he had a child with him that was never explained. There was a little girl that I'm assuming was his daughter, but she never said a word. And they seemingly left her sitting on a bench while they went horseback riding to a bar where Storm drank an entire pitcher of beer through a straw. It was a display of questionable parenting skills -- and who drinks beer through a straw?

While I did roll my eyes at all the wild meat chilis and nachos, the gratuitous shots of moose on the dog trail and the blurbs that popped up to tell us Jonrowe's favorite type of gun, I still didn't hate the show.

I think if you divorced Palin from all her previous shenanigans, she's not a terrible host. Had Palin graduated from college just five years later, when "The Real World" existed and the modern reality TV genre was born, she could have had a lucrative career. Just pause for a moment and think about the ripple effect of Sarah Palin, the reality TV star of the early '90s, instead of politician. She would have killed it on "Survivor." The world may have never known Levi Johnston. I can't think about it anymore; it makes my head and heart hurt.

My other adventure on the Sportsman Channel involved "Iditarod Unleashed." The Sportsman Channel actually had seven nights of programming of the Iditarod, because they showed previous years' races too. I think they covered the Iditarod as well as they could in such an epic and expensive race. They gave us some history, covered the terrible trail conditions, and went out of their way to profile the real athletes: the dogs. The end of this year's race made for great television, especially when you get the inside scoop on what happened on that last day among Aliy Zirkle, Jeff King and Dallas Seavey. Seavey mentions that he was confused coming into Nome because someone (I'm assuming from the Sportsman Channel or a local news station) approached him and tried to put a microphone on him. And he thought, "why would they want to mic the guy in third place?" It was fascinating, I just hope he isn't too famous now to defend his "Ultimate Survival Alaska" title.

This week, "Amazing America" will be featuring "the rags-to-riches story of Billy Bob Teeth," so we've all got that going for us. Which is nice.

• Emily Fehrenbacher lives in Anchorage, where she reviews Alaska reality TV.


Emily Fehrenbacher