Theo Wargo/WireImage for Candie's
Theo Wargo/WireImage for Candie's
Well, there's "like." And then there's "boy I had no idea that Bristol could turn a brighter shade of orange than she already is—and what manner of biomass may have burrowed into her chin?"
Both attitudes can draw huge ratings for a reality TV star. One guess as to which is fueling the new Bristol Palin show:
It's schadenfreude, baby. (Well, maybe.)
"Can't say I'm a fan, but I'll definitely be watching!" says Answer B!tch fan Maria Jackson, 27, of Atlanta. "It's more like someone placed a penny on the rails and no one knows for sure if it'll be a train wreck, but I'm ready to be a witness!"
In fact, Palin seems to bring out the disaster metaphors in TV watchers.
"Its kind of like watching your kid with a penny near a light socket," says 30-year-old B!tchlette Justin Murphy of Arnold, Mo. "You know you should stop them, but you kinda wanna see where it will go."
And you know it's gonna go straight into a vat of self-tanner eventually. But I digress.
You asked who on Earth Palin's audience is.
Geographically, it appears to be the American heartland, or, at least, people outside New York, Los Angeles and other major cities. According to Yahoo!, the states responsible for the most Internet searches for Palin in recent weeks include Alaska (natch), North Dakota, Maine, Vermont and Idaho.
And there are other clues about who might be watching Palin.
The Bio network (which will be airing her reality show, by the way) has dubbed the 20-year-old as "the most famous single mother in America" and a "national media darling." Sound familiar? A few years ago the suffering-mommy tiara was the sole property of Kate Gosselin, whose eight kids and messy split earned her a massive audience.
But as Gosselin fades from the spotlight, the hausfraus who flocked to the Plus Eight franchise will likely need some other faux-frazzled, feverishly packaged mommy type to follow. And that person could very well be Palin; according to our own E! News team, Palin's toddler, Tripp, will be a part of the show, and Palin's custody agreement with ex Levi Johnston has not changed.
"Bristol is the opposite side of the perceived lower class demographic that watches MTV's 16 and Pregnant," says Robert Galinsky of the New York Reailty TV School. "Unlike 16 and Pregnant, Bristol's audience is informing the mainstream and understands how to cultivate and showcase a wholesome lifestyle."
Mark Yawitz of casting site Reality Wanted agrees.
"I am not sure I agree that the show will pull in the schadenfreude group," he says.
Statistically, it does appear that women will be Palin's prime demographic, particularly those interested in her alleged—ahem—changes. Yahoo! tells me that, of all of the searches this month for the term "Bristol Palin plastic surgery," 71 percent came from come from females. (Palin's camp has denied that the single mom has gone under the knife, though some people may differ.) Palin's weight loss also has piqued fresh interest, with 95 percent of related searches coming from the ladies.
(Yahoo! doesn't release search volume numbers, but spokeswoman Carolyn Clark tells me that, largely because of speculation over plastic surgery, Palin garnered more searches in the past seven days on Yahoo! than Kim Kardashian, Lady Gaga, Britney Spears, Angelina Jolie, Jennifer Aniston, Christina Aguilera, Justin Bieber or Kristen Stewart.)
Not that every watcher will be female.
"Sad part is," says Chris Donley, 40, of Bucksport, Maine, "if I came across it channel-surfing, I'd probably end up stopping, just to see what the heck the Bio network finds so interesting about her."
—Additional reporting by Katie Rhames