Kid Nation concludes tonight

Kid Nation wraps up its first season tonight at 8 p.m. ET. CBS has revealed that three kids will receive special $50,000 gold stars during the episode.

The series remains one of my favorite new fall shows, yet it’s nearly impossible for me to do my job and mock it, because the cast members are just kids, after all. But oh, how much fun it’s been to watch. The kids are much smarter, funnier, and wittier than anyone on an MTV reality series has been in years, and just try to script a villain better than Taylor and her “deal with it!” catchphrase and pouting face.

The series did prove Americans’ never-ending capacity to freak out about something about which we have little to no actual knowledge. The contract may have been disturbing, but as it turned out, adults were present in the kids’ lives in the form of the producers, who controlled their lives—and the show’s narrative—via the fake town journal.

That controversy didn’t turn into ratings; while the show picked up advertisers, it lost ratings. The series is currently “tied for 64th on all of broadcast this season” in overall ratings, Media Life reports, although it does do well among kids ages 2 to 11 and 6 to 11, placing first in those demos in its timeslot, CBS says.

Still, executive producer Tom Forman tells USA TODAY, “I’m very proud of this show and very proud of the kids. It’s a family show. At the end of the day, it makes you feel very good.” And CBS executive Ghen Maynard said that while the ratings were low, but CBS wants “to do shows that touch people are (are) about something. I thought the storytelling was terrific and the casting was fantastic.”

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