Ahead of schedule — a full year ahead of schedule, in fact — the daughter of comprehensive-immigration-reform foes’ second-least-favorite Republican senator has released her latest contribution to our nation’s national conversation. In 2008 it was the straightforwardly titled children’s book My Dad, John McCain. Two years later, in 2010, Meghan McCain gave us a memoir of her time on her father’s presidential campaign, Dirty Sexy Politics. And then, in 2012, we all had the blessing of a second bloated Meghan McCain thought piece on politics and America and feelings, America, You Sexy Bitch: A Love Letter to Freedom, where she said a lot of interesting things, some of which I noted in a review here.
And now, about a year and change since a bunch of reporter types were last assigned to weigh the cultural contributions of young McCain, here she is, back at it, with Raising McCain, a “docu-talk series” (per the description on its website) that’s loosely premised on discussing things Millennials are interested in (good premise!). Apparently Millennials are interested in privacy (fact check: mostly true), because that’s the topic of the first episode, which aired on Saturday.
The show is set up in an odd pseudo-meta style where you watch the producers, production assistants, et al. put the show together; it’s kind of like watching a behind-the-scenes documentary explaining a movie’s special effects while you watch the movie, and it leads to some unintentional amusement from what appears to be the consistent befuddlement that McCain engenders in the show’s executive producer, Eugene.
So the show starts with Eugene telling her that they may want to do an episode on privacy, and she responds by setting the level of discourse with the following monologue: “I love this idea. I have been obsessing over the concept of privacy. There are cameras everywhere in every city and I don’t care if people want to stalk me on Twitter or Instagram or Facebook, it really doesn’t bother me, because I don’t think privacy exists anymore and I don’t really care.” Expect that level of insight to continue.
She finds a way to be patriotic about not caring about privacy, though: “I don’t mind giving up some of my privacy for the greater good of America.” Not to worry, America! Sleep soundly in the knowledge that Meghan McCain is abandoning her privacy for you. It does seem odd that someone who has “been obsessing” over privacy doesn’t care that it doesn’t exist, but that’s neither here nor there, I guess. She adds later, “I have been known to tell my life story to random strangers in elevators, so the privacy issue really doesn’t bother me.” Got it.
Anyway, the show proceeds to touch on privacy issues in a predictably red-meaty manner. The Daily Beast’s Michael Moynihan joins McCain for interviews with two tech-privacy experts, and she asks them probing questions such as, “I’m used to sharing everything all the time. Like are we just, like, f***ed as a culture?” If SNL wanted to make a parody of McCain, they could just play that clip. Or they could play a clip from later in the show where McCain learns how to fly a miniature drone and promptly crashes it (why isn’t there a .gif of that yet?). Or any number of others. There’s a lot to work with.
By the time the episode wraps, McCain has had a sort of Camusian come-to-Jesus moment regarding the topic, noting that she was “a cocky little s**t” at the beginning of the episode but has had a change of heart. “Maybe at some point we’re just gonna know everything about everyone at all times,” she says, leaving Raising McCain watchers with perhaps the least helpful, most nihilistic take-away ever seen at the end of a “docu-talk series” on cable.
Meghan McCain fans will be pleased that she still comes off as the kind of person who thinks cursing a lot makes her interesting. The only real surprise about McCain’s new show, juxtaposed with the rest of her corpus, is that it doesn’t have the word “sexy” in the title.
— Betsy Woodruff is a William F. Buckley Fellow at the National Review Institute.