In the beginning, we were told that mere children would build a viable society of their own without adult interference. And they did it! If you don’t count the constant instructions from cheesy host Jonathan Karsh, the class system that divided the town, and the overt suggestions of the town journal supposedly written by the town’s original pioneers, perhaps then you can deem this show a success. Twelve kids received gold stars for their hard work and commitment to the town, thereby demonstrating that children can be just as greedy as adults. Some of them were even reduced to begging. It’s amazing what people will do with money on the line! For 37 days, kids have worked to build Bonanza City, a Kid Nation. Along the way, they’ve been led by three different town councils, made tough decisions, and resisted temptations. However, they all rose to the occasion and accepted the responsibility. They played their parts well, stuck to the script and we, the viewing audience, were treated to neatly packaged themed episodes. We’re down to the finale and promised some incredible surprises. The real surprise will be come if this final episode lives up to the hype. Shall we?
Up In Smoke
On cue, Mike walks out of his bunkhouse with his battery operated lantern. He can’t sleep because
producers woke him uphe’s reflecting on the good times had by all. He rounds the corner in town to find the job board in flames. He runs to stand in front of it with feigned surprise. Finally, he runs to the bunkhouses to wake the town. Scrambling, they run for buckets and cups of water in an attempt to put out the blaze. Sophia realizes it’s too late and tells them to let it burn. Mike comes to the conclusion that no job board means no jobs and no classes. He wonders what that will mean for the final showdown. Kids are slightly rattled over the job board going down and DK admonishes them to use their heads because that board was not the “freaking town.”
With the job board reduced to a pile of rubble, Jonathan appears to announce some changes for the final days. Holding the journal, he tells them the fire was no accident. The journal divided them into classes and the job board gave each class a job. Not anymore! “Burn it!” Mallory yells and Jonathan obliges…because isn’t that what was planned all along? There are mixed feelings as he tosses it into the fire. Some kids applaud while others are uncertain of the decision. With no journal to guide them and no jobs, kids are left to decide for themselves what they will do. They can work if they want but are no longer required to do so. Michael is concerned what will become of the town with no guidance.
I’m Stealing, Have A Nice Day
Left to their own devices, the kids again demonstrate they can be just as greedy as adults can. With a complete mob mentality, they loot the general store taking as much as they can. I’m not surprised to see kids like Colton, Taylor, and Leila leading the pack. I am surprised to see goody-two shoes Olivia participating in such thievery. The kids don’t leave much behind other than a big mess but justify it by saying they’re just being kids. They’ve behaved as
producer driven robotsadults for 38 days. Now, they feel they’re entitled to some fun. Not all of the kids share this opinion. DK thinks what they’re doing is ridiculous. Zach wisely says that without order, their society will crumble. He picks up a broom and begins to clean the mess left behind by the looters.
At dinnertime, the Council addresses the town. They want everyone to work hard to clean up the messes they made. They don’t need the journal or job board to make the town a success. Some of the kids feel bad for their crime spree and vow the next day will be better. It is as they all work together to clean up.
Jonathan reappears to let them know there will be no showdown. However, they will compete for a reward. He opens his suitcase to show them the last $20,000 gold star and asks the Council to award it on the spot. The Council takes a walk to decide. They award the last gold star to Zach. He is too emotional and overwhelmed for words. Greg recognizes Zach’s dedication to Bonanza City and the fact that the town means so much to him. Jonathan sends them back to town to build their world with the promise of big surprises to come.
Taylor, Kelsey, and Leila round up all of the chickens they like and take them back to their bunkhouse for the night. Emilie asks if she can join them and it’s obvious they don’t want her there. They tell her she can sleep over by the chickens so she leaves in tears. Kelsey follows her and diplomatically tries to explain their self-absorbed, snotty reasoning. Since it’s their last night in Bonanza, the girls of the yellow district want to be alone with each other and the poultry. Emilie is pissed off and approaches Taylor and Leila in the saloon for sending Kelsey to do the dirty work. Leila rudely tells her to just get out while a spineless Taylor walks away. Emilie continues trying to get to Taylor for an answer but Kelsey keeps getting in her way. Emilie is ready to go to blows but Migle steps in and takes control. Emilie is upset because the girls are leaving her out but Taylor and her cronies only agree to let her hang out with them the next day, not spend the night. They all give her hugs and tell her that they love her, but she still can’t sleep in their bunkhouse.
That’s All, Folks
On the last day in Bonanza City, Jonathan gathers the kids in the center of town and promises a big day. From his bag, he pulls three huge gold stars. He calls Alex forward to hold one of the stars and announces that each one is worth $50,000. The stars will be given out at the last Town Hall Meeting but first the kids will have to earn them as a reward. They will be hosting the First Annual Bonanza City Bonanza, a huge party to celebrate their accomplishments. Kids will have one hour to cook, decorate, and clean the town from top to bottom. Signs are posted all over town telling them exactly what to do. If they complete all three tasks within the hour, they’ll win all three stars to be handed out by the council in the last Town Hall Meeting.
At the first stop, the kids must make a pasta dinner. They must shovel dough that resembles instant mashed potatoes into huge tubular spaghetti makers and cook it. Also, they must mash a vat of tomatoes into a sauce. In the process, the kids were covered in both “dough” and sauce. The task cannot be completed unless a huge jar is filled with piping hot sauce. Ah, so this was the reason for the rustic microwave. Producers do have reasons for those whack reward choices.
With forty minutes remaining, the kids move on to the next task. Everyone knows picnic tables are necessary for that pasta picnic. The kids must work together to build tables. Luckily,
producers told Greg what to doGreg has built a picnic table before so he knew what he was doing. It takes them 25 minutes to get their tables completed.
The next task addresses the trash problems in Bonanza City. The kids must shovel the trash into wagons and haul it out to a land fill. How very ingenious of the production crew! By having the kids do the dirty work now, they have less clean up themselves when this fiasco is all over. Kids have a hard time since the smell of the trash is so awful but Morgan steps up. She’s used to the smell and is able to work effectively. Everyone pulls together and works hard. With two minutes to spare, they bury the last of the trash and run back to town. All except DK, that is. He collapses on top of the land fill because his legs gave out. He says it’s something to do with his tendons. He tells them to leave him but the task is not complete until everyone is back in town. Blaine and Michael carry him and Mallory rings the bell to signify the completion of all three tasks.
Jonathan proclaims them $150,000 richer for winning the reward. They’ve also earned one kick ass party. But that’s not all. Waiting to join them are party guests, special guests that they haven’t seen in 39 days. The kids look off in the distance and coming up the dusty road are their parents. For dramatic effect, they break into a run to meet their parents who tearfully sweep them up into an embrace and cry over how much they missed them. Yes, this would be the same parents who had a brain fart and sent their children to do this show in the first place. The kids proudly show them around the town that they “built.” Some of them are appalled at the living conditions. Morgan’s mom is speechless over her bunkhouse. DK’s parents are speechless as well when they see his chicken foot, a souvenir from the chickens they killed. Jared’s father lives it up in the saloon by drinking a “Bonanza Bombs.” Nothing says bonding like a little simulated booze bender.
Taylor rings the bell to let everyone know it’s chow time, their last meal together. A spaghetti lunch is served. Jonathan interrupts the meet and greet luncheon and tells the kids to grab their backpacks, say goodbye to the old bunkhouses, and head over to the Town hall Meeting with their parents. Jonathan is met with applause as
a member of the crew holds up a sign reading “Applause Please!”he reminds them there are three $50,000 gold stars to give away.
The so-called pioneers gather with their folks in the Town Hall. Jonathan puts it all in the hands of the Council. They step outside to discuss the final gold star recipients. All agree that the stars should go to someone who represents Bonanza City, hard workers who’ve made the town a better place. They toss out Sophia’s name as well as Mike, Migle, Anjay, Morgan, Laurel, and Markelle. Michael wishes he had gold stars to give out to everyone because he shares a special bond with each person. But he doesn’t so they must hand out the three that production has given them. The first $50,000 pioneer is…..Sophia. If you can remember that far back, Sophia won the first $20,000 gold star awarded in Bonanza. Afterwards, she did not stop working to make Bonanza City a better place. She tearfully thanks the Council and the kids for her incredible time in Bonanza. The second gold star is awarded to…..*drum roll, please* Morgan. She is speechless but finally says she doesn’t deserve the star. She’s abandoned her work lately to spend as much time as possible with her friends. Greg explains that Morgan brought them together as a community. Her father stands and thanks the Council for honoring his daughter in this way. Greg, in turn, thanks him for allowing Morgan to be there with them. This surprises Morgan’s father who jokes that he doesn’t have adult conversations that good. One gold star remains and it goes to…..Migle. What? Migle? Did we even know who Migle was before a few weeks ago? Both Migle and her mother are shocked when her name is called. She’s in tears as she thanks the Council. To her parents, she says the star is for them. Fifty grand makes them proud, for sure.
Jonathan points out how much the kids have accomplished over the past 40 days, so much that the adults could learn from them. Mike’s mom stands to declare how proud she is of all the kids. She blabs on about how much their parents all believe in them and how they give them hope for the future. Jonathan tells them the time has come to say goodbye and encourages them to keep building a better world. The kids gather outside and hugs and tears commence. They realize they will probably never see each other again. According to Greg, Kid Nation proves that kids can build a community and Taylor believes that kids can do things on their own(although she did nothing on her own). After 40 days with incredible kids, Sophia is encouraged about the future of the country and the future of the world. Zach feels they’ve really done something. They’ve made Bonanza City a real Kid Nation.
It’s easy to build a community with producers pulling the strings. The premise of the show had potential but it became nothing more than a scripted farce. Kids never built their own society, but followed instructions and suggestions by producers in every episode. I, for one, would have liked to see what this bunch of kids could actually accomplish on their own. We should, however, thank them. Over the course of their forty days in Bonanza City, they did teach us a few things about childish behavior, capitalism, and the shameless fraudulence of reality TV.
How long would it have taken you to burn the journal? PM me