Kid Nation

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Kid Nation
Kid Nation Logo.jpg
Directed byJack Cannon
Presented byJonathan Karsh
StarringSee Participants below
Composer(s)Jeff Lippencott and Mark T. Williams, Ah2 Music
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons1
No. of episodes13 (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s)Tom Forman
Production location(s)Bonanza City, New Mexico
Running time60 minutes
Original networkCBS
Original releaseSeptember 19 –
December 12, 2007 (2007-12-12)
External links

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 program was originally scheduled to air in the summer of 2007.[1]

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.[2]

On May 14, 2008, CBS officially canceled the series.[3][not in citation given]


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,[4][dead link][5] with production beginning on April 1, 2007.[6][dead link]

The show stresses the difficulty in creating a viable society. While each child received $5,000 (equivalent to $6,000 in 2018) for their involvement, Gold Stars valued at $20,000 (equivalent to $24,000 in 2018) and $50,000 (equivalent to $60,000 in 2018) were awarded to select outstanding participants as decided by the elected Town Council.[7]

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 at any time, and some did.[2]


No. Episode Title Days Airdate Upper-Class Merchants Cooks Laborers Town Bonus Gold Star Exits
1 "I'm Trying to be a Leader Here!"[8] 1–4 September 19 Red Blue Yellow Green Seven Outhouses Sophia Jimmy
2 "To Kill or Not to Kill"[9] 5–7 September 26 Blue Red Yellow Green None (Task Failed) Michael None
3 "Deal with It!"[10] 8–10 October 3 Yellow Blue Green Red Microwave & Cocoa Mallory None
4 "Bless Us and Keep Us Safe"[11] 11–13 October 10 Blue Red Yellow Green Religious Books Morgan Cody
5 "Viva La Revolución!"[12] 14–16 October 17 Yellow Green Red Blue Oral Hygiene Products Greg None
6 "Bonanza Is Disgusting"[13] 17–19 October 24 Red Green Yellow Blue Fruits & Vegetables DK None
7 "The Root of All Evil"[14] 20–22 October 31 Blue Yellow Green Red New Clothes & Free Laundry Nathan None
8 "Starved for Entertainment"[15] 23–25 November 7 Green Blue Red Yellow None (Task Failed) Kennedy None
9 "Not Even Close to Fair"[16] 26–28 November 14 Blue Yellow Green Red None (Task Failed) Blaine Randi
10 "Let Me Talk!"[17] 29–31 November 21 Blue Green Yellow Red Letters From Home Laurel None
11 "I Just Like the Recess Part"[18] 32–34 November 28 Green Blue Yellow Red Town Arcade Hunter None
12 "Where's Bonanza, Dude?"[19] 35–37 December 5 Green Red Blue Yellow Hot Air Balloon Ride Alex None
13 "We've All Decided to Go Mad!"[20] 38–40 December 12 No District Assignments Three Gold Stars worth $50,000
(equivalent to $60,000 in 2018)
None (final episode)
^A These gold stars were worth $50,000 (equivalent to $60,000 in 2018) and were awarded at the final town hall meeting.


The participants of Kid Nation consist of 40 kids, whose ages range from 8 to 15.[21] The following table lists each child's district color (including change if applicable),[22] 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.[23]

1 2 Name Age State Town Council Gold Star Exit Note(s)
B B Alex 9 Nevada 37Day 37 40
B B Anjay 12 Texas Days 1–29 41 40
B Y Blaine 14 Florida Days 29–40 28Day 28 40 Changed districts in episode 9
Y Y Brett 11 Minnesota 41 40
G G Campbell 10 Georgia 41 40
Y N/A 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 Days 29–40 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 Days 29–40 16Day 16 40 Oldest participant
R R Guylan 11 Massachusetts Days 16–29 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 N/A 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 1–29 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 Days 29–40 07Day 7 40 15th birthday during episode 11
B B Miglė 13 Illinois 40Day 403 40
R R Mike 11 Washington Days 1–16 41 40
G G Morgan 12 Indiana 13Day 13
Day 403
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 N/A Randi 11 Nevada 41 28 Day 28 Turns 12 (somewhere between episode 5 and 9)
G G Savannah 10 Kentucky 41 40
G G Sophia 14 Florida 04Day 4
Day 403
40 Appointed town sheriff in episode 11
Y Y Sophie 10 Washington 41 40
Y Y Taylor 10 Georgia Days 1–16 41 40 11th birthday during episode 7
Y Y Zach 10 Florida Days 16–29 39Day 39 40
^1 Original district
^2 Final district color or black, with N/A (Not Applicable) if participant left the show
^3 These gold stars worth $50,000 (equivalent to $60,000 in 2018) and were awarded at the final town hall meeting.



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.[24] In previewing the series, CBS eschewed television critics, instead holding screenings at schools in at least seven large cities.[25] 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."[26] 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.[27]

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.


After the show's premiere, many television critics wrote negative reviews, with Los Angeles Times critic Robert Lloyd a notable exception.[28] 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."[29]

By the third show, some advertisers that had shied away from Kid Nation due to its initial controversy had begun to purchase time.[30]

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 never 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.[31] 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.[32]

Time magazine's James Poniewozik named it one of the Top 10 New TV Series of 2007, ranking it at #10.[33]

It was nominated for Best Family Television Reality Show, Game Show or Documentary at the 29th Annual Young Artist Awards.[34]

U.S. Nielsen ratings[edit]

No. Episode Viewers (millions) Households Adults 18–49
1 "I'm Trying to Be a Leader Here!" 9.07 5.8/10 3.0/9[35]
2 "To Kill or Not to Kill" 7.6 4.8/8 2.8/8[36]
3 "Deal With It!" 7.51 4.7/8 2.4/7[37]
4 "Bless Us and Keep Us Safe" 7.01 4.3/7 2.0/6[38]
5 "Viva La Revolucion!" 7.41 4.7/8 2.4/7[39]
6 "Bonanza is Disgusting" 8.03 5.1/8 2.5/7[40]
7 "The Root of All Evil" 6.89 4.4/8 2.0/7[41]
8 "Starved for Entertainment" 7.16 4.5/7 2.1/6[42]
9 "Not Even Close to Fair" 7.53 4.7/8 2.4/7[43]
10 "Let Me Talk!" 6.88 4.3/7 2.0/6[44]
11 "I Just Like the Recess Part" 7.29 4.5/7 2.1/6[45]
12 "Where's Bonanza, Dude?" 7.2 4.5/7 2.2/6[46]
13 "We've All Decided to Go Mad!" 7.35 4.5/7 2.2/6[47]

Broader legal implications[edit]

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.[48] 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.[49] 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.[50]

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.[4] 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.[4][6][51] 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.[31]

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.[31][49] 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.[52]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Josef, Adalian (2007-05-15). "Kids to rule reality on CBS". Variety. Retrieved 2007-10-16.
  2. ^ a b Maria Elena Fernandez (2008-08-17). "Is child exploitation legal in 'Kid Nation'?". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2007-08-17.
  3. ^ CBS Announces Their 2008-09 Schedule. Who’s Been Cancelled?[permanent dead link][not in citation given]
  4. ^ a b c "The Founding of 'Kid Nation'". TVWeek, retrieved August 3, 2007 Archived September 16, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ Bonanza Creek Movie Ranch official website
  6. ^ a b "CBS addresses 'Kid Nation' controversies" by Maria Elena Fernandez, Los Angeles Times, August 22, 2007, retrieved August 22, 2007 Archived December 5, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ Wyatt, Edward (2007-08-21). "CBS Was Warned on 'Kid Nation,' Documents Show". New York Times. Retrieved 2007-08-24.
  8. ^ Kid Nation on CBS Episode 1 Recap Archived October 12, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ Kid Nation on CBS Episode 2 Recap Archived October 11, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ Kid Nation on CBS Episode 3 Recap Archived October 12, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ Kid Nation on CBS Episode 4 Recap Archived October 24, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ Kid Nation on CBS Episode 5 Recap Archived October 20, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ Kid Nation on CBS Episode 6 Recap Archived October 28, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ Kid Nation on CBS Episode 7 Recap Archived November 3, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  15. ^ Kid Nation on CBS Episode 8 Recap Archived November 10, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  16. ^ Kid Nation on CBS Episode 9 Recap Archived November 18, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  17. ^ Kid Nation on CBS Episode 10 Recap Archived November 23, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  18. ^ Kid Nation on CBS Episode 11 Recap Archived December 1, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  19. ^ Kid Nation on CBS Episode 12 Recap Archived December 8, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  20. ^ Kid Nation on CBS Episode 13 Recap Archived December 15, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  21. ^ "Kid Nation – I'm Trying to be a Leader Here". Yahoo! TV. 2007-09-20. Archived from the original on June 15, 2011. Retrieved 2007-09-21.
  22. ^ CBS Kid Nation progress report Archived October 11, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  23. ^ "Kid Nation on CBS – Bios". Archived from the original on February 12, 2009. Retrieved 2009-03-16.
  24. ^ "Is CBS reality show 'Kid Nation' just child's play?" by Maria Elena Fernandez, Los Angeles Times, August 28, 2007, retrieved September 15, 2007 Archived March 23, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
  25. ^ "CBS Screens ‘Kid Nation’ at Schools" by Edward Wyatt, New York Times, September 19, 2007, retrieved September 19, 2007
  26. ^ Article from
  27. ^ "'Kid Nation' Raises Controversy Ahead of Air", National Public Radio's Morning Edition, August 3, 2007
  28. ^ "'Kid Nation' ratings are just OK". Archived from the original on October 19, 2007. Retrieved 2007-10-14.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link), Kansas City Star, September 21, 2007, retrieved on October 13, 2007.
  29. ^ "'Kid Nation': Grow Up, CBS!" Washington Post, retrieved October 24, 2007
  30. ^ "'Kid Nation' Slips in Viewers but Gains in Advertisers", by Edward Wyatt, New York Times, October 8, 2007. Retrieved October 13, 2007.
  31. ^ a b c Fernandez, Maria Elena (2007-11-30). "Lost chances in 'Kid Nation'". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 2007-12-01. Retrieved 2007-12-02.
  32. ^ Keveney, Bill (2007-12-12). "'Kid Nation' faces an uncertain future after lackluster run". USA Today. Retrieved 2007-12-13.
  33. ^ Poniewozik, James; Top 10 New TV Series;
  34. ^ 29th Annual Young Artist Awards - Nominations / Special Awards Archived July 6, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  35. ^ Broadcast TV Ratings for Wednesday, September 19, 2007
  36. ^ Broadcast TV Ratings for Wednesday, September 26, 2007
  37. ^ Broadcast TV Ratings for Wednesday, October 3, 2007
  38. ^ Broadcast TV Ratings for Wednesday, October 10, 2007
  39. ^ Broadcast TV Ratings for Wednesday, October 17, 2007
  40. ^ Broadcast TV Ratings for Wednesday, October 24, 2007
  41. ^ Broadcast TV Ratings for Wednesday, October 31, 2007
  42. ^ Broadcast TV Ratings for Wednesday, November 7, 2007
  43. ^ Broadcast TV Ratings for Wednesday, November 14, 2007
  44. ^ Broadcast TV Ratings for Wednesday, November 21, 2007
  45. ^ Broadcast TV Ratings for Wednesday, November 28, 2007
  46. ^ Broadcast TV Ratings for Wednesday, December 5, 2007
  47. ^ Broadcast TV Ratings for Wednesday, December 12, 2007
  48. ^ "'Kid Nation' puts Hollywood labor tension into sharp focus", by Maria Elena Fernandez,Los Angeles Times, August 29, 2007, retrieved August 29, 2007
  49. ^ a b "'Kid Nation's' current reality: investigations" by Maria Elena Fernandez, Los Angeles Times, August 27, 2007, retrieved August 27, 2007
  50. ^ "Children's advocates join 'Kid Nation' fray", Maria Elena Fernandez,
  51. ^ Wyatt, Edward (2007-08-18). "A CBS Reality Show Draws a Claim of Possible Child Abuse". New York Times. Retrieved 2007-08-23.
  52. ^ Guthrie, Marisa (2007-11-24). "Tom Forman: Father of CBS' Kid Nation". Broadcasting & Cable. Archived from the original on October 6, 2012. Retrieved 2007-11-28.

External links[edit]