Did Laurence Sunderland Send His Daughter Around the World To Snag a Reality Show?

What Women Really Think
June 14 2010 3:55 PM

Did Laurence Sunderland Send His Daughter Around the World To Snag a Reality Show?

/blogs/xx_factor/2010/06/14/the_ny_post_announced_today_that_abby_sunderlands_father_inked_a_tv_deal_just_weeks_after_she_set_sail/jcr:content/body/slate_image

The Sunderland parents were already in pretty deep water (pun intended) last January when they decided to let their 16-year-old daughter Abby attempt to break the world record and brave 50-foot waves while circumnavigating the globe alone on a sailboat. It was just two days ago that Abby was found alive in the Indian Sea after losing communication during a storm. Now it's come out that Laurence Sunderland, Abby's father, inked a reality-show TV deal just as his daughter set sail . File under: News That Makes You Doubt Good Intentions.

Back in January, facing a sea of criticism, the Sunderlands made a big effort to position their decision as a stand against overprotective parenting. Laurence told reporters : "Sailing and life in general is dangerous. Teenagers drive cars. Does that mean teenagers shouldn't drive a car? I think people who hold that opinion have lost their zeal for life. They're living in a cotton-wool tunnel to make everything safe." A child psychologist on the Early Show defended the Sunderlands' decision , noting, "If you have the composure and ability to stay calm under pressure, as Abby did, it might be OK." The initial shock of a 16-year-old teenager facing the high seas gradually wore off, as the Sunderlands took to countless talk shows to assure everyone of their daughter's expert skill.

But now it seems that Abby's dad is essentially the nautical version of Michael Lohan, profiting from his daughter's fame for a much-needed TV deal. According to the New York Post , Laurence Sunderland told the paper he's broke and had "signed a contract to do a reality show, "Adventures in Sunderland," about his family of daredevil kids weeks after she set off on her doomed and dangerous solo sail around the globe." The family had previously alluded to their lack of funds when Abby's mother asked that the United States pay for her daughter's rescue . Whether Abby's sail was entirely a publicity stunt a la Balloon Boy, we'll probably never know. Which is a shame, because Abby's obviously a talented sailor. But if there's one phrase in the world that immediately morphs something potentially honorable and pure into crass fame-mongering, it's "inked a reality show deal."

Advertisement

Photograph of the Sunderland home by Robyn Beck/Getty Images.

TODAY IN SLATE

Doublex

Crying Rape

False rape accusations exist, and they are a serious problem.

Scotland Learns That Breaking Up a Country Is Hard to Do

There’s a Way to Keep Ex-Cons Out of Prison That Pays for Itself. Why Don’t More States Use It?

The Music Industry Is Ignoring Some of the Best Black Women Singing R&B

How Will You Carry Around Your Huge New iPhone? Apple Pants!

Culturebox

Theo’s Joint and Vanessa’s Whiskey

No sitcom did the “Very Special Episode” as well as The Cosby Show.

Television

The Other Huxtable Effect

Thirty years ago, The Cosby Show gave us one of TV’s great feminists.

Cliff Huxtable Explains the World: Five Lessons From TV’s Greatest Dad

Why Television Needs a New Cosby Show Right Now

  News & Politics
The World
Sept. 19 2014 12:33 PM The Precarious Predicament of Russia’s Neighbors
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 19 2014 12:09 PM How Accelerators Have Changed Startup Funding
  Life
The Vault
Sept. 19 2014 12:08 PM The CIA Used to Have a Commute-by-Canoe Club. One Member’s Memories.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 11:33 AM Planned Parenthood Is About to Make It a Lot Easier to Get Birth Control
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 19 2014 12:10 PM Watch the Trailer for Big Eyes, a Tim Burton Movie About People With Normal-Sized Eyes
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 11:40 AM Apple Invented the Perfect Way to Handle Your Giant New Phone
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 19 2014 12:13 PM The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola  The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.