Bristol Palin, 'Life's a Tripp' reality show gets personal
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It's the dream of many young women to move to sunny Los Angeles and stay in a big, beautiful house, but for 21-year-old Bristol Palin -- eldest daughter of 2008 GOP vice-presidential candidate and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin -- there's no place like home.
On Tuesday, Lifetime premieres "Bristol Palin: Life's a Tripp," chronicling single mother Palin's sojourn in the City of Angels and her eventual return to her hometown of Wasilla, Alaska, and the warm embrace of her extended family.
"I'm in Alaska," she says, speaking in early May. "All the snow's melting, and the ice on the lakes is all thawed out."
As the show opens, Palin heads down to Southern California to work for a charity, with her toddler son, Tripp, and younger sister, Willow, in tow. They begin their visit staying in the sumptuous home of a family friend, but Palin soon discovers life in L.A. isn't all sunshine and palm trees.
Among the incidents captured on camera is a well-publicized encounter among Palin, a couple of visiting friends and a West Hollywood restaurant patron who shouts insults and degrading comments about her mother while Bristol is riding a mechanical bull (the heckler, Stephen Hanks, later apologized).
Will viewers empathize?
"I'm glad that Lifetime was there during the Saddle Ranch incident this past summer," Palin says, "and I'm glad that people will be able to see that side of things, get a little glimpse of what my family goes through."
As to what she learned from living in Los Angeles, Palin says: "The biggest lesson is just sticking to all my beliefs. The whole Los Angeles trip, running into that guy at Saddle Ranch, makes me more concrete in the beliefs that I believe in and what I stand for.
"I'm not going to change because I was living in California. I'm not going to go buy a BMW and have all these materialistic things. I'm still going to be Bristol at the end of the day, and none of that stuff is important to me. That was just confirmed in L.A.
"I could see how people just get caught up in the whole thing. It's just a different world. I'm just a lot more happy in Alaska, where people are nice, and they don't care what street you live off or what type of purse you have. I'm grateful that I got to grow up in Alaska, around people who aren't like that."
But Palin does miss something about Los Angeles.
"Just the warm weather," she says. "It's beautiful there."
This is the second series Palin has been involved in, the first being TLC's "Sarah Palin's Alaska," which featured the entire Palin clan -- mother Sarah, father Todd and siblings Track, Bristol, Willow, Piper and baby Trig -- exploring the beauties of the 49th state. (She was also a contestant on the 11th season of "Dancing With the Stars," finishing third).
But the focus of "Life's a Tripp" is a little different.
It's not about Mom
"My parents don't appear that much in the show," Palin says. "I think they're in a couple of episodes, but they're OK with it. They're always going to have a say in things. They're always looking out for myself and my siblings, and I'm grateful that they do that.
"My mom is definitely not the next Kris Jenner, nor would she ever want to be. I'm just glad that they trust me enough to make my own decisions, but they're always going to be there when I need support and I need advice."
As for her plans for the future, Palin says, "I don't know. I'm just sitting back and seeing what God has in store for me. It's all in God's hands. We'll see what opportunities come in front of Tripp and I, what will fit best with us.
"God gets you through everything. He doesn't give you anything that you can't handle. He knew I could handle my son, and it's been a long journey."