After watching three weeks’ worth of CBS’s “Kid Nation,” I have come to the following conclusions:

1. Deserting kids in the desert is a great idea. Summer camps have been draining bank accounts for years, and it’s time to start sending the nation’s youth to live inside abandoned movie sets in New Mexico. It’s a win-win situation: Parents don’t have to leave their kids with Phish-loving camp counselors, and New Mexico gets a reason to exist.

2. The collective minds at CBS are brilliant. While everyone in the industry is losing his mind over Ben Silverman because he revived “The Bionic Woman,” originally a spin-off of “The Six Million Dollar Man,” CBS quietly captured the snarky-college-newspaper-TV-columnist demographic with “Kid Nation.” Combine that with the rest of America, who sadly believes “CSI: Romulus” would be a good idea, and you’ve built yourself quite a base.

3. I would have been the worst “Kid Nation” contestant of all time. The only thing my 9-year-old self could do was operate a Super Nintendo and name all of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. There’s no way in hell I would’ve been cooking and cleaning in a ghost town for any reason at age 9. Something is wrong with these kids.

4. The show is actually pretty good. I’ve resisted reality television for years, but I simply cannot deny the “Nation.” It’s not a good show in the sense that “The Sopranos” was, but it’s fun to watch and rivals TV’s best in terms of watchability with a group of cynical people. DVR “Pushing Daisies” tomorrow, and watch “Kid Nation” with your friends.

But as enjoyable as the show is in its current incarnation, it could be so much more. For the sake of argument I’m going to pretend lawyers don’t exist, and we’ll throw conventional morals and ethics out the window – which shouldn’t be too difficult considering I’m discussing reality television. At this point, season two of “Kid Nation” looks like a sure thing, so it’s time for CBS to open up the playbook.

The first major change “Kid Nation” needs to make is fundamental to the premise of the show. In an annoying move to convince sponsors that CBS wasn’t trying to get kids to kill each other in the middle of nowhere, the primary goal of the show is to see if all the kids can coexist. The kids are divided into four groups for the purpose of assigning jobs, but CBS hammers home the communal nature of the town. The kids are not competing with each other for real estate or power. They’re just working together.

So now that the first season has established that kids can kind of live on their own – with producers making sure no one gets mauled by wolves or something – it’s time to create a real town to see if kids can live in opposition to each other, not with each other. We need corrupt politicians, roving gangs, radical religious factions, political parties and permanent economic disparities. It’s supposed to be Kid Nation, a nation of kids with different groups and agendas. I am unaware of any nation where everyone works together for the greater good.

Next, the cast needs to be a random sampling of real kids, not the special kids CBS handpicked for the show. One of the kids this season just happens to have apprenticed with a butcher, so when the group needed to kill chickens, they knew what to do. Real kids don’t apprentice with butchers. Real kids work at Dairy Queen. Are we in feudal times? Is his brother apprenticing with a blacksmith? I’m proposing a nationwide draft that requires kids between the ages of 8 and 15 to register for “Kid Nation.” It’s the only way to get a legitimate sampling of real kids on the show.

And finally, kids should not be allowed to leave the show whenever they want. When I was 10, I wasn’t allowed to leave summer camp when I wanted to, and that place had a fucking trapeze. These kids agreed to be on a TV show that tests their limits and isn’t comfortable, yet they can go home whenever they want? If we really want to see kids live on their own, they have to go into it knowing they are stuck there. The kids are a little too comfortable with the situation right now because they know in the worst-case scenario, they can just take off.

But for now, we’ll just have to make do with the show as is. Roving gangs might not be stealing gold stars, but I hear some of the kids accidentally drank bleach one time, so we’ve got that to look forward to.

– They kill chickens? They’re eight. Jesus. Reason with Passman atmpass@umich.edu

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