The Palins on Television: Reality Television, Fox News and Sarah Impersonators

Sarah Palin Bristol Palin Book Signing Split - H 2012
Adam Bettcher/Getty Images

Sarah Palin Bristol Palin Book Signing Split - H 2012

After half a term as governor of the state of Alaska, Sarah Palin has now spent four years making regular appearances on television, in a wide range of roles: political pundit, mother, hunter, and dancing fan.

Her daughter, Bristol, has been nearly as prolific: she's been a competitive ballroom dancer, starred in her own reality show, and now, as announced by ABC on Friday, is vying once again for the crystal ball trophy on Dancing with the Stars.

Aside from the Kardashians, it may just be that the Palins are the most prolific reality television family working today. Before Bristol hits the dance floor once again, here's a look at a timeline of their various TV endeavors.


Sarah bursts onto the national scene, proving a telegenic if sometimes uneasy running mate for GOP presidential nominee Sen. John McCain. Her time on the trail is perhaps best remembered for her botched interview with Katie Couric, and her inability to name the newspapers that she reads. She also made an appearance on Saturday Night Live, confronting Tina Fey for her spot-on (though not all that kind) impersonation. Much attention was also paid to Bristol's pregnancy, and her relationship with then-fiance, Levi Johnston.


This was a slow, post-election year, but was highlighted by Sarah's appearance on Glenn Beck's Fox News show, the conservative firebrand's first guest ever. She also made appearances on American Chopper and Late Night with Conan O'Brien.


This was a big year for the Palin clan. TLC, in a blockbuster move for the low-rated cabler, signed the entire family up to star in Sarah Palin's Alaska, a reality show that focused on the domestic life and adventures of Palin and her large brood. Highlights included an episode in which they went hunting, and one in which she met Kate Goesslin and her even larger family.

Bristol began her ascendency to television stardom here, playing a prominent part in the show. And simultaneously, she launched to even further reality notoriety, when she competed on Dancing with the Stars. Such was her popularity that she finished in third place. It also earned her a guest spot on The Tonight Show, as well as guest appearances on The View.

Meanwhile, her mother also formalized an agreement with Fox News, becoming a contributor to the News Corp. cable news network. She has since made appearances with Bill O'Reilly, Greta Van Susteren, and Sean Hannity, among others.

The matriarch Palin featured on Barbara Walters' 10 Most Fascinating People special, as well.


A slower year, but not one without some special moments, including an E! True Hollywood Story about her life. Also, an appearance on The Daily Show, which was somewhat different in tone than her Fox gig.

Bristol, for her part, appeared on The View and The Tonight Show once again.


Thus far a pretty monumental year, though not for all the right reasons. After a false start (and a law suit) over a scratched reality show with former DWTS co-contestant Kyle Massey, Bristol is now starring in her own Lifetime reality show, Life's a Tripp, with her toddler son. Unfortunately, ratings have not been all that hot, and it's been bumped behind re-runs of Dance Moms. It did, at the very least, earn her a guest spot on Live with Kelly.

Meanwhile, along with her appearances on her daughter's reality show, Sarah has continued her run on Fox News, and got to be a surprise guest on The Today Show during its ratings war with ABC's Good Morning America and guest host Couric.