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HOME > RealityTVDB > Kid Nation

Kid Nation


Kid Nation (Courtesy Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)


Kid Nation is an American reality television show hosted by Jonathan Karsh that premiered on the CBS network on September 19, 2007 created by Tom Forman Productions and Endemol USA and aired on Wednesdays at 8:00 p.m. ET . The show, featuring 40 children aged 8 to 15, was filmed on location at the Bonanza Creek Movie Ranch, a privately owned town built on the ruins of Bonanza City, New Mexico, eight miles south of Santa Fe, with production beginning on April 1, 2007. In the show, the children try to create a functioning society in the town, including setting up a government system with minimal adult help and supervision. The program was originally scheduled to air in the summer of 2007.

The show stresses the difficulty in creating a viable society. While each child received $5,000 for their involvement, Gold Stars valued at $20,000 and $50,000 were awarded to select outstanding participants as decided by the elected Town Council.

On May 14, 2008, CBS officially canceled the series.

Episode summaries

See List of Kid Nation episodes for more information

No. Episode Title Days Airdate Upper-Class Merchants Cooks Laborers Town Bonus Gold Star Exits Nielsen Ratings
Households Adults 18-49
1 "I'm Trying to be a Leader Here!" 1-4 September 19 Red Blue Yellow Green Seven Outhouses Sophia Jimmy 5.8/10 3.0/9
2 "To Kill or Not to Kill" 5-7 September 26 Blue Red Yellow Green None (Task Failed) Michael None 4.8/8 2.8/8
3 "Deal With It!" 8-10 October 3 Yellow Blue Green Red Microwave & Cocoa Mallory None 4.7/8 2.4/7
4 "Bless Us and Keep Us Safe" 11-13 October 10 Blue Red Yellow Green Religious Books Morgan Cody 4.3/7 2.0/6
5 "Viva La Revolución!" 14-16 October 17 Yellow Green Red Blue Oral Hygiene Products Greg None 4.7/8 2.4/7
6 "Bonanza is Disgusting" 17-19 October 24 Red Green Yellow Blue Fruits & Vegetables DK None 5.1/8 2.5/7
7 "The Root Of All Evil" 20-22 October 31 Blue Yellow Green Red New Clothes & Free Laundry Nathan None 4.4/8 2.0/7
8 "Starved for Entertainment" 23-25 November 7 Green Blue Red Yellow None (Task Failed) Kennedy None 4.5/7 2.1/6
9 "Not Even Close to Fair" 26-28 November 14 Blue Yellow Green Red None (Task Failed) Blaine Randi 4.7/8 2.4/7
10 "Let Me Talk!" 29-31 November 21 Blue Green Yellow Red Letters From Home Laurel None 4.3/7 2.0/6
11 "I Just Like The Recess Part" 32-34 November 28 Green Blue Yellow Red Town Arcade Hunter None 4.5/7 2.1/6
12 "Where's Bonanza, Dude?" 35-37 December 5 Green Red Blue Yellow Hot Air Balloon Ride Alex None 4.5/7 2.2/6
13 "We've All Decided to Go Mad!" 38-40 December 12 No District Assignments Three $50,000 Gold Stars Zach
Sophia'
Morgan'

Migl"?'
None (final episode) 4.5/7 2.2/6
^These gold stars were worth $50,000 and were awarded at the final town hall meeting.

US Nielsen Ratings

Episode Number Episode Viewers (millions)
1 "I'm Trying to Be a Leader Here!" 9.07
2 "To Kill or Not to Kill" 7.6
3 "Deal With It!" 7.51
4 "Bless Us and Keep Us Safe" 7.01
5 "Viva La Revolucion!" 7.41
6 "Bonanza is Disgusting" 8.03
7 "The Root of All Evil" 6.89
8 "Starved for Entertainment" 7.16
9 "Not Even Close to Fair" 7.53
10 "Let Me Talk!" 6.88
11 "I Just Like the Recess Part" 7.29
12 "Where's Bonanza, Dude?" 7.2
13 "We've All Decided to Go Mad!" 7.35
Season 2 - Kid Nation Season Two /Canceled Due To Controversy of Child Labor Laws

Participants

The participants of Kid Nation consist of 40 kids, whose ages range from 8 to 15. The following table lists each child's district color (including change if applicable), age at the onset of the show, home state, the terms they held in Town Council, the day they received a gold star, when they left Bonanza City and any applicable notes.

^Original district
^Final district color or black if participant left the show
^These gold stars were worth $50,000 and were awarded at the final town hall meeting.
' ' Name Age State Town Council Gold Star Exit Note(s)
B B Alex 9 Nevada 37Day 37 40
B B Anjay 12 Texas Day 1 - Day 29 41 40
B Y Blaine 14 Florida Day 29 - Day 40 28Day 28 40 Changed districts in episode 9
Y Y Brett 11 Minnesota 41 40
G G Campbell 10 Georgia 41 40
Y Z Cody 9 Ohio 41 13 Day 13
Y Y Colton 11 Nevada 41 40
R R Divad 11 Georgia 41 40
R R DK 14 Illinois Day 29 - Day 40 19Day 19 40
R B Emilie 9 Nevada 41 40 Changed districts in episode 9
G G Eric 14 New Jersey 41 40
B B Gianna 10 Illinois 41 40
B B Greg 15 Nevada Day 29 - Day 40 16Day 16 40 Oldest participant
R R Guylan 11 Massachusetts Day 16 - Day 29 41 40
G G Hunter 12 Georgia 34Day 34 40
R R Jared 11 Georgia 41 40
R R Jasmine 11 Georgia 41 40
G Z Jimmy 8 New Hampshire 41 04Day 4 Youngest participant
Y Y Kelsey 11 Pennsylvania 41 40
G G Kennedy 12 Kentucky 25Day 25 40
G G Laurel 12 Massachusetts Day 1 - Day 29 31Day 31 40
Y Y Leila 9 North Carolina 41 40
R R Madison 11 Texas 41 40
R R Maggie 14 Minnesota 41 40
B B Mallory 8 Indiana 10Day 10 40 9th birthday during episode 3
Olivia's sister
R R Markelle 12 Georgia 41 40
G G Michael 14 Washington Day 29 - Day 40 07Day 7 40 15th birthday during episode 11
B B Migle 13 Illinois 40Day 40 40
R R Mike 11 Washington Day 1 - Day 16 41 40
G G Morgan 12 Indiana 13Day 13
Day 40
40
B B Natasha 13 Florida 41 40
B R Nathan 11 Illinois 22Day 22 40 Changed districts in episode 9
B B Olivia 12 Indiana 41 40 Mallory's sister
Y Y Pharaoh 12 Pennsylvania 41 40
Y Z Randi 11 Nevada 41 28 Day 28
G G Savannah 10 Kentucky 41 40
G G Sophia 14 Florida 04Day 4
Day 40
40 Appointed town sheriff in episode 11
Y Y Sophie 10 Washington 41 40
Y Y Taylor 10 Georgia Day 1 - Day 16 41 40 11th birthday during episode 7
Y Y Zach 10 Florida Day 16 - Day 29 39Day 39 40

Reception

Initial reception

Ahead of its premiere, the show proved to be the most controversial of the upcoming fall 2007 season, even though the only actual footage seen was a four-minute promo running on television and the Web. In previewing the series, CBS eschewed television critics, instead holding screenings at schools in at least seven large cities. Variety columnist Brian Lowry wrote that "Kid Nation is only the latest program to use kids as fodder for fun and profit, which doesn't make the trend any less disturbing." William Coleman, a professor of pediatrics at the University of North Carolina, argued that the younger children, ages 8 to 12, might not be able to deal with the stress, yet could be enticed to participate by the potential fame or be pressured to do so by a parent.

Speaking before an audience of television reviewers, producer Tom Forman acknowledged that Kid Nation would inevitably share some elements with William Golding's novel Lord of the Flies, which depicted planewrecked children without adult supervision. But adults were present off-camera during the Kid Nation production, including cameramen, producers, a medic, and a child psychologist, although all interacted with the children as little as possible. Participants also missed a month of school, but Forman suggested that such real-world tasks as preparing a group breakfast, doing physical chores like fetching water, and making group decisions constituted an educational experience in its own right. Foreman said that all participants were cleared by a team of psychologists, any child could choose to go home, and some did.

Los Angeles Times reporter Maria Elena Fernandez interviewed four of the children, who told her they had worked harder than they ever had in their lives but would willingly repeat the experience. They said the most challenging aspect was getting used to being filmed constantly.

Later reactions

After the show's premiere, many television critics wrote negative reviews, with Los Angeles Times critic Robert Lloyd a notable exception. Reviewing the first episode, Washington Post columnist Tom Shales suggested that the show is "not so much an exercise in socialization as the indoctrination of children into a consumer culture". Shales pointed out that the kids' decisions included buying root beer at the saloon with "real money", but not hiring or being hired - as their money was "parceled out to them according to their predetermined stations in life."

By the third show, some advertisers that had shied away from Kid Nation due to its initial controversy had begun to purchase time.

Reflecting back near the end of the season, Los Angeles Times writer Maria Elena Fernandez, who had reported extensively on Kid Nation, wrote that neither the show's pre-premiere promises or controversies ever quite congealed: the children were never as autonomous or self-reliant as the publicity indicated and the threatened legal investigations by the state of New Mexico never took off. As the series concluded, low ratings had cast doubt on whether CBS would renew the show. Brad Adgate, an analyst with Horizon Media, said the chances were not good unless a writers' strike, ongoing at the time of the season finale, increased demand for more reality shows.

Time magazine's James Poniewozik named it one of the Top 10 New TV Series of 2007, ranking it at #10.

It was nominated for Best Family Television Reality Show, Game Show or Documentary at the 29th Annual Young Artist Awards.

Broader legal implications

The Kid Nation production raised questions about whether reality show participants are more like subjects in a documentary or working actors. The latter are covered by union rules that govern everything from working hours to compensation. This debate over participant status could be seen in an American Federation of Television and Radio Artists investigation over whether its AFTRA National Code of Fair Practices for Network Television Broadcasting was violated. The investigation went forward even though on reality shows, the Network Code generally covers professional performers, but not the participants. Some parents on hand for the final day of filming accused the producers of feeding children lines, re-casting dialog and repeating scenes, all of which suggested that the children functioned as actors. Producer Tom Forman said that the parents were observing routine "pickups" for scenes that might have been missed because of technical difficulties.

Kid Nation also raised questions about the appropriate minimum age of participants in reality shows. The production took place before New Mexico tightened its regulations governing the number and span of hours a child actor can work. The producers had declared the set a summer camp rather than a place of employment, but that loophole has since been closed. After 11-year-old Divad Miles was burned when grease splattered onto her face while cooking a meal, her mother, Janis Miles, filed a complaint in June calling for an investigation into "abusive acts to minors and possible violations of child labor laws." The claim was investigated by Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office, which found no criminal wrongdoing on the part of the production company. Other investigative efforts by the state of New Mexico into the Kid Nation production were later dropped. The state's Attorney General's Office cited the lack of formal complaint or request for inquiry from any state agency. The state's Department of Workforce Solutions dropped its charge that the producers had denied inspectors access to the set and said it had no plans to investigate.

CBS defended the production's conduct as both legal and ethical, including the response to minor injuries on the set. The network characterized some early allegations as irresponsible, exaggerated or false. In late November 2007 after 10 episodes had aired, Forman accused some newspaper critics of engaging in a feeding frenzy in which they used loaded terms like "child abuse" before actually seeing the show and without interviewing anyone involved with the production.



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