By Ann Oldenburg, USA TODAY
Sister infighting! Tears! A confrontation with a gay man in a bar! Make way, Kim Kardashian. Bristol Palin's riding into reality TV town.
On Tuesday, Lifetime premieres Life's a Tripp (10 p.m. ET/PT), a 14-episode series focusing on Palin, 21, and her world.
"I can't wait for everyone's reaction to it," she says.
Shot last year, the show features Palin moving to California from Alaska - and back again - with son Tripp, 3. "You'll see him grow up on the show."
But we'll also see her famous mom, Sarah, 48; sisters Willow, 16, and Piper, 11; brother Trig, 3; dad Todd, 47; and boyfriend Gino Paoletti, a high school classmate. Bristol's brother Track, an Army reservist, does not appear because he is stationed in Afghanistan.
And Levi Johnston, Bristol's former fiancé and Tripp's dad? Um, no. On the show we'll see Palin calling him to visit Tripp, but he never does.
Palin has been in the spotlight since she was thrown into it as a pregnant 17-year-old during her mother's campaign for the vice presidency. After the baby arrived, she stepped back into the public eye as a spokeswoman for the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. She went on to appear in an episode of The Secret Life of the American Teenager, compete on Dancing with the Stars and write a memoir.
Getting to know you
A reality show is just the latest stop on the road to stardom, right?
"I would never call myself a celebrity," Palin says, "and I would never really want to be one. I never seek out stuff like this. I never sought out Dancing With the Stars. Things have been handed to me, and I've taken opportunities."
She says the Lifetime show will give her - and Tripp - keepsake footage, but it also will provide a window into what she's really like.
"People will be able to see I'm not just a robot."
Is that how she thinks people view her?
"I'm not sure what people think of me. With the show, I'm not trying to set any record straight and I'm not trying to sell myself to anyone."
But she also says she likes the control she has over the show. "I've done everything else like a robot. With this, I can take the bull by the horns, set my own story straight." And she can continue with her message: "I hope young girls can see it and avoid the situation I got myself into."
She is quick to say - without being asked - that she is not pregnant now, nor is she getting married. Paoletti, who is seen in all the episodes, she says, is a constant in her life now: "We're not engaged. I'd say we're pretty serious."
So a wedding might soon be in the works? "Eventually," she says, "I'd like to settle down and get married. I'm definitely going to have more kids."
Not a Hollywood girl
Unlike many reality stars who insist that they forget the cameras are rolling, Palin says the opposite. "I don't think I'll ever get used to it. Dancing With the Stars and everything else has been pretty straightforward. But this stuff is on a whole nother level. They're literally in your house, in your face. They see you happy, see you sad, everything."
The cameras didn't faze Tripp, she says, laughing. "He'll be a terror from Episode 1 through Episode 14."
In the first two episodes of the show, Palin moves to Los Angeles to work for a charity. Sister Willow comes along to help take care of Tripp, but she doesn't stay long. Ask Palin how she feels about Hollywood, and she laughs.
"I'll go there every once in a while. I'm never going to live there, ever. I just don't like it. I don't like the materialistic way of 'Where do you live? What car do you drive?' "
For now, Palin is working at a dermatology office in Wasilla, Alaska. She bought a house near her parents'.
That's how her mother came to be in the show, she says. While the house was being redone, she lived in an apartment on her parents' property. "We never discussed, 'Hey, are you going to appear?' She would literally just come over and say what she had to say, and then she would leave."
Palin doesn't know what, if any, political plans are in the future for the family. "I'm not sure what she's going to do. I'm not sure what I'm going to do, either. I'm just going to see what God has planned for me."