June 24, 2009

Reality Bites

Despite my rallying cries against them, despite my absolute abhorrence of the way they've let their lives play out catering to the cameras and exploiting their children, I watched the very special episode of Jon and Kate Plus 8 on Monday night. Because I am a lemming and, like millions of other people, apparently, I can't avoid watching a good trainwreck. But instead of the usual schadenfreude-laden guilt I normally experience when watching a good reality TV flameout, I felt pure, unadulterated guilt. Watching the episode made me very angry and very sad.

No surprise to anyone, they're getting divorced.

I was infuriated - in the almost-throwing-stuff-at-the-TV infuriated - by their obliviousness to the fact that they got themselves into this situation. That coupled with their need for us to feel sorry for them pushed me over the edge. When you let the network that broadcasts your show buy you a house so there's enough room for the crew, you turn the TV show into your primary source of income, you've turned reality on it's ear. You're no longer a credible subject because of your ability to bend the reality you're attempting to portray. Jon and Kate filed for legal separation hours before the pre-recorded show aired. The show itself made mention of the separation that had occurred only hours earlier. Orchestration is the word that comes to mind. This is orchestrated. We are being manipulated. And the bottom line, the essential truth out of all of this, is that it was their decision. It was their decision to subject themselves and their kids to this situation that at the very least played some sort of role in their breakup. And now the kids have to pay.

Most of all, though, I was sad. For the kids. The kids didn't have a dog in this fight. They never signed up to be on TV. Their parents did. They never asked for paparazzi to hound them, to snap shot after shot of them at school or on the playground. Their parents did. They never asked for the vast amount attention and pressure that has been heaped upon them. They just want to be kids. And in many cases this is worse for these kids than most. Kids their age get to deal with the sugar-coated tales of divorce their parents pass off as reality, insulating them from just how vicious things might have gotten. Instead, these kids, in the years to come, get to go back, pop in the DVDs and see just how their family fell apart.

I know I'm giving these poor excuses for humanity more attention than they deserve, that I'm giving them just what they're looking for. But honestly, maybe we need to pay more attention to them and call the show out for what it is - the perfect example of the worst our society has to offer. It's got all the ingredients - child exploitation, greedy fame-seeking whores, infidelity, manipulation of reality, and now complete and utter dysfunction culminating in the division of a family. I can't help but think that eventually this will all fade away some day - the show will be canceled, the kids will be off in school, the limelight will be gone - and the parents will both sit back and finally, in some shining moment of clarity, ask what the fuck did we let happen to our lives? By then, they'll be best known as Jon and Kate Who? and the flavor of the month will be the family of dysfunctional midget multiples and their obese lesbian adoptive mothers one of whom will be undergoing gender reassignment. It'll be a hit, I'm sure.

Posted by Chris at June 24, 2009 7:02 AM

Oh you so succinctly put into words all my thoughts on them. I DVRd the season at the beginning and after Monday's show am removing it. Kate is a Fame Whore in the truest sense of the word trying to cover it up with the cloak of Mother Only Wanting To Be Able To Provide For Her Children. And I'm not buying it.
They are not a real family we are watching. They are a family playing a family in a reality tv show. The early shows, they were real - when the show focused on the kids and how THEY coped with having six babies and two toddlers. The later shows? Colorado skiing, San Diego for a Spa weekend, Hawaii even to renew their vows - so NOT what a family of 8 kids is really doing. And did they seriously think we didn't know that Kids Crooked Houses probably contacted them so they could get on the show and get the exposure? I'd like to know what their sales were this week.
And they really wanted us to believe THEY were searching for a bigger house that THEY could afford? Please - the house is decorated better than any house I've ever owned and we both work fulltime jobs AND only have one child!
OK, I'll stop now - both my rant and watching them. Jon and Kate, please just go away. Even if your marriage is unrepairable. Just go away.

Posted by: NancyJ at June 24, 2009 8:40 AM

Gee, Chris, you don't have to sugarcoat it like that -- why not come right out and tell us how you really feel!

I don't watch the show, but my 12-year-old does, obsessively, so I'm forced to catch bits and pieces of it as I fold laundry. It's appalling. And of all the very good points you make, the best is this one: The kids never chose to have their lives exposed like this, and it's too late to do anything about it now. It's a crying shame.

Posted by: Karen at June 24, 2009 8:42 AM

Many years ago now, the Dionne Quints were born in Canada. Their parents basically "sold" them and a house was built with viewing areas for the girls, and people from all over the world came and gawked at them. Several had nervous breakdowns, one never really recovered and spent most of her life in a convent until her death at a very young age.
If you've watched Jon and Kate Plus 8 at all, you would have to see that the parents in this, especially a chronically bitchy Kate, thought very little of their kids, and more about their own publicity.
Maybe TLC will be forced to cancel the show. I sure hope so.

Posted by: Maribeth at June 24, 2009 8:47 AM

I don't watch the show and only know of these people from the news. I take a different approach to their troubles. They were doing their jobs. Making a living providing for their kids. Their Job was to make good television. Jon and Kate made good television for a while. They did their jobs well. They provide for their kids and gave them opportunities not many other kids will get.

Now their mission should be to make sure their kids learn to make the best of those opportunities.

Posted by: William at June 24, 2009 8:48 AM

I watched the show, too. The first time I've ever seen an episode from start to finish. I was horrified at the lack of understanding each of those dumbasses demonstrated.

I bet he'll end up on a reality game show in less than a year. She'll marry her publicist/producer/whatever.

What sad, effed up people.

Posted by: Rebecca at June 24, 2009 8:58 AM

How bout calling it "John and Kate: We need new mates and you people actually took the Bait" HAHA
I watched the first episode of new season and then I was finished with it. Sure they go to fab places on vacation, nice big home, but for what price? Their family life and kids. As far as I can see, Kate got exactly what she deserved. But I do feel sorry for the kids.

Posted by: christine at June 24, 2009 9:25 AM

How bout calling it "John and Kate: We need new mates and you people actually took the Bait" HAHA
I watched the first episode of new season and then I was finished with it. Sure they go to fab places on vacation, nice big home, but for what price? Their family life and kids. As far as I can see, Kate got exactly what she deserved. But I do feel sorry for the kids.

Posted by: christine at June 24, 2009 9:25 AM

How bout calling it "John and Kate: We need new mates and you people actually took the Bait" HAHA
I watched the first episode of new season and then I was finished with it. Sure they go to fab places on vacation, nice big home, but for what price? Their family life and kids. As far as I can see, Kate got exactly what she deserved. But I do feel sorry for the kids.

Posted by: christine at June 24, 2009 9:26 AM

Dude, this is what almost all reality TV is like... we're just now noticing it because it's hitting too close to home.

Is this result any more surprising that hearing that the Biggest Loser gained back a bunch of weight, or that the Bachelor broke up with his dream girl two months after the show? It's all a big, shitty mess. With extra shit.

Posted by: Brad at June 24, 2009 9:32 AM

But the real issue, is that there would be no reality TV without the support of the viewers. Cable is giving us exactly what we want. I remember years ago catching snippets of Jerry Springer and feeling disgusted wondering who the heck was watching that garbage. Clearly, Jon and Kate is less violent but no less revolting.
And I have watched entire episodes.
I don't feel very good about that now.

Posted by: Wack-a-do at June 24, 2009 9:37 AM

According to the news out this morning they have been living seperate lives for months, she's an uberbitch, the one time I actually did watch it I felt like she castrated her husband every chance she got, you can beat someone down just so much before they finally fight back. Maybe he cheated, maybe he didn't I don't know I'm not in the guys bedroom but I'd want away from her in a heartbeat. The only people that really suffer is the kids, while someone up above suggested they are being afforded luxuries that many families do not, you have to wonder how this family would have gotten by without the "fame" and attention, maybe they wouldn't have been able to afford much, but maybe they would be an intact family that loved each other. We'll never really know, we could what if it all day.

Hopefully TLC pays for good counseling.

Posted by: Dee at June 24, 2009 9:55 AM

Amen pal ... I didn't watch it, never seen the show actually, but I had a feeling I'd respond the same way you did.

Shame on those two ... their kids deserved better.

Posted by: Jase at June 24, 2009 10:07 AM

And yet the gheys are the ones endangering the sanctity of marriage?

Posted by: Sparkle Pants at June 24, 2009 10:09 AM


Shame on TBS. They needed to get out of this family's living room the moment it became apparent they were breaking up a family. And shame on the parents. They needed to throw TBS out the moment it became apparent that the network cared more about the show than their childrens' wellbeing.

Screw the parents' happiness--I couldn't care less about them. But how DARE they subject their children to the agony of divorce and then broadcast to the world the real struggles the children have?

If I had cable, I totally would have watched. I, too, am part of the problem. Who can look away?! But this is why I don't have cable. GO ME!

Posted by: Sabrina at June 24, 2009 10:37 AM

to be fair, i could tell by the editing that the separation interview was conducted a while ago (because they've been using clips of it for a few episodes now and they've obviously been apart) but they had not actually filed for divorce until monday. so while i'm not saying it wasn't orchestrated, i'm saying it wasn't quite how you put it.

i have to admit, i am a trainwreck watcher. so even though i hate the show, i've been watching it. and playing into their little ratings scheme...

and i do not feel sorry for jon (because he is obviously a child himself, finally breaking out after being kate's whipping bitch) OR kate (because she is a nagging harpy who says she can find the good in any situation - except that i've never seen her actually find any good in any situation!)

but i do feel sorry for those kids. i think their crooked houses were a sadder than sad metaphor.

i hope some of this money is being set aside for their therapy.

Posted by: kati at June 24, 2009 10:53 AM

Bottom line is they made a decision to have 8 kids and then realized they were going to have to work hard to support them. Well, duh. But instead of working hard, they sold out their kids.

Kate actually refers to the show as the "family business". See something wrong there? And saying "I'm doing it for my kids" over and over again does not make it so.

And really, "the show must go on" was the most pathetic quote I heard. What she really means is "keep the $$ coming."

Posted by: Carolyn at June 24, 2009 10:55 AM

looks like dee beat me to it :)

Posted by: kati at June 24, 2009 10:56 AM

Couldn't have said it better! Well put.

Posted by: Lujza at June 24, 2009 10:57 AM

someone on twitter yesterday was wondering if they had only implanted two embryos (instead of 7) if they'd still be together.

Posted by: kalisa at June 24, 2009 11:13 AM

I used to watch that show, but then because of all the tabloid drama it turned me off of watching it this year. I feel bad for those kids.

Posted by: Adi at June 24, 2009 11:20 AM

Trainwreck is right.

Posted by: Kami at June 24, 2009 11:26 AM

Trainwreck is right.

Posted by: Kami at June 24, 2009 11:27 AM

I watched once in the beginning to see just how the heck they were going to raise that brood of adorable kids, realized Kate was control freak and Jon was a doof who probably led to her being such a control freak and quit watching. I totally get wanting and needing a way to support all those kids, but when a show becomes your life, not your means of income, you're doomed. I feel for the kids...

Posted by: Theresa at June 24, 2009 11:58 AM

I watched the show too. I had stopped watching awhile ago because it was becoming glaringly obvious that the cameras were affecting the kids, but like everyone else, my curiosity got the better of me.

What annoys me is Jon keeps saying "I'm only 32." Hey, when I was 'only' 25 I had a newborn, 5 teenagers, part time job, helped run a group home, AND was part owner of a business. Don't cry about your life choices and mourn the 'college party years' that you never had. You helped create those 8 kids and there's no going back, so grow up already.

And Kate...(eye roll) the whole teary eyed "feel sorry for me because I'm trying so hard to keep this family together" thing just made me want to throw something at the TV. Because in the next statement, she's all "But the SHOW must go ON!"

I actually got angry watching her constantly go on about how "everything is for my kids". Really, it seems as though she's trying to convince everyone (thou protest a bit too much?) because it's painfully obvious that they have no regard for their kids.

THAT disgusted me to no end.

I was glad to see that they have taken some time off (ooo, a month?). Maybe they'll re-think the whole show altogether. I hope so.

Posted by: Scattered Mom at June 24, 2009 12:31 PM

I caught the last half hour of the trainwreck. I've only ever seen a handful of old J&K episodes, but I questioned their compatibility as a couple even then.

I gotta tell you, I feel bad for the entire family. Go ahead, throw things at me. But when you take away everything - TLC, the camera crew, the money, the fame whoriness - you are left with what I felt like I was watching the other night. Two people who had some serious problems with their relationship. Problems that appear to have existed long before they had 8 kids. Two people who likely would have divorced without the help of reality tv. Oh God, what a tremendously sad thing to witness. It was bad enough watching it happen to my parents in real life, but now it passes for entertainment? I guess I don't agree with pointing the finger at reality tv as the cause of their divorce. And sure, the timing of things was clearly orchestrated, but we just watched the demise of a family. THAT was not orchestrated.

I think it's terribly sad for everyone involved. And I think it's far too easy for people to pick apart Jon and Kate without considering why either of them behaved the way they did. Kate? Seems like a shrew, but what if her increased shrewiness and fame whoriness was due to the rift in her relationship? What if that was her way of coping in front of the cameras? The cameras she was now depending on for her family's livelihood?

The part that gets me the most is the "10 year retrospective" TLC is going to air on their marriage. Oh TLC, have you learned nothing? You're going too far. Let's stop judging these people and leave them to their healing.

Posted by: Erin at June 24, 2009 12:49 PM

I agree with you completely on this. The kids have the most to lose, and they didn't ask for any of this. I, honestly, would have a lot more respect for them if they didn't use the divorce as a plot point in the show - they wouldn't be the first couple to put on a happy public face while navigating those waters, I'm sure. Having the divorce be documented on the show like this, while "real" (and a producer's wet dream, I'm sure), will only do more harm than good in the long run. Not to be all, "Won't somebody think of the children?" but, well, won't somebody? The show's crew won't and their parents clearly aren't. It's more sad than anything. (I didn't watch the show. My boyfriend was relieved by the announcement thinking, "This is the last we'll hear of it!" I told him I highly doubted that. Stay tuned for the Custody Hearing Episode!)

Posted by: Dawn at June 24, 2009 1:07 PM

I've only watched the show one time and wasn't impressed. I can understand the pressure of choosing to do the reality show. What is it, they had 3 and then had 5 more or something like that. I think if I had 5 kids when I was expecting 1 or 2 I'd probably make some crazy decision like this two. How the heck can you afford to raise that many kids?? I don't know what he did for a living prior to the kids arriving, but he didn't strike me as super hard worker Dad in the one episode I saw. The whole situation just annoys me. I don't get why people are allowed to have that many kids and then do in-vitro because things like this and octomom happen and there's no way they can afford them on their own. If you have 3 and can afford one more than they should only implant 1 egg, not 5. Done.

Posted by: Rose Winters at June 24, 2009 1:37 PM

I have sick theory. They've committed to a 40 episode series this year. Why separate so soon? I bet we'll see a Reconciliation episode before the series ends. They've probably already filmed it.

Posted by: Megan at June 24, 2009 2:28 PM

I think it's all been a publicity ploy for the last year or so.

Watch their relationship "go bad"... then watch them go through a divorce... then watch how they all deal with it (kids and adults)... then watch how they get back together and everything is OK. Should get them through at least two more years.

I think that they decided that the kids are too young to really be 'disturbed' by all of this -- plus, they've gotta make money -- so they went ahead with it. Those poor kids will never know what hit them.

All I know is that they've gotten what they wanted -- publicity and people watching the show -- which all equals dollar signs, in some twisted way, shape, or form.

Posted by: ironic1 at June 24, 2009 2:51 PM

Dude, I just left a huge comment and your blog just ate it. It said I have left too many comments in a short period of time, and I haven't. DAMN IT! LOL

Anyway, I was saying basically that I have followed this story for a long time - well before the news broke in the press about Jon and Kate cheating on one another. I know the makers of the Gosselins Without Pity website, and for well over a year, they have been trying to expose the Gosselins and TLC for exploiting their kids. The sad part is - no one CARED about this until the news of Jon and Kate's infidelity hit the newsstands. No one was paying attention to the fact that eight children are being filmed on a daily basis, screaming and crying, crapping on their potty seats, naked in the bathtub, etc. Even hidden cameras were set up in their ROOMS at one point! NO ONE CARED about this because they were blithely enjoying watching the show, amazed at how cute these kids are, and laughing at Kate emasculating Jon. It is sick to me that for years this charade went on and no one in the mainstream media caught on to what is being done to these kids. Sure, I am glad that they are investigating it now, but it may be too late for these poor kids.

In the divorce papers, it clearly shows that Jon and Kate have been living separate and apart (in some capacity) for two years. Some say this is just legalese - and something everyone puts in their divorce papers. The fact is, they are admitting that for the past 2 years at least that their marriage has been over. And less than a year ago, they went to Hawaii to "renew their vows" and swore to their kids that "MOMMY AND DADDY WILL NEVER GET DIVORCED!!!" What is sick is that these charlatans use their children's emotions to get ratings. Now Kate is even using her kids' responses to the divorce to garner sympathy, which I am sure she thinks will get her ratings.

Folks, the only thing we should be doing is TURNING OFF THE TELEVISION. I have vowed not to ever turn the show on, and that is hard coming from someone who hasn't missed an episode. STOP watching this garbage, and help stand up for these poor children. And all kids! California is the only state with Coogan's laws. ALL states need to have this - a federal law should be create, in actuality.

Thanks for highlighing this story, Chris. More people need to realize the exploitation that is going on here!

Posted by: Katie at June 24, 2009 3:45 PM

Yeah, I think it's awful and I feel pretty awful for the kids.

Posted by: Heather at June 24, 2009 5:26 PM


Posted by: Nat at June 24, 2009 5:28 PM

100% YES.

Posted by: chatty cricket at June 24, 2009 6:49 PM

You've got a lot of opportunities for schadenfreude this week. I imagine that my state (South Carolina) has given you some ideas.

Posted by: Stephanie at June 24, 2009 9:04 PM

As many have mentioned here- you are 100% on with this. I used to really enjoy this show when it was focused on the kids and how the parents managed daily life. I used to find some useful ideas too! Jon and Kate do need to realize their responsibility in all of this. I also think that TLC ought to take the high road and end the show ASAP-- because as much as curiousity gets the best of me sometimes, I think I've watched enough of this particular train wreck. It's sad that at the end of the day, 8 wonderful little people are paying the highest price.

Posted by: Jane in Pa at June 24, 2009 11:43 PM

These are the same two people that went to churches and charged for their appearances within and at the very least at every church visit they passed around a collection plate to care for their "multiple" children.

Where is Jesus now? We don't see them hauling their family into church now. Where did Jesus go? Is he holding the camera?


Posted by: Kristy at June 25, 2009 4:31 PM

p.s. Rose Winters has never dealt with infertility.

"If you have 3 and can afford one more than they should only implant 1 egg, not 5. Done."

Often by implanting only one egg...you are merely spending tons of money and getting no baby. Jon and Kate should not dictate everyone's choices in life. Nor should Octomom. These are crazy people. Let's not start controlling everyone's choices because of bozo's please.

Posted by: Kristy at June 25, 2009 4:38 PM

Hear, hear!

Posted by: NG at June 26, 2009 10:01 AM

I didn't see the divorce episode, but I saw the last episode where they had the kids' fifth birthday party. I hadn't watched for a while before that, and it was a shock to see how different the show had become. Jon and Kate were so distant, Jon essentially wasn't staying with the family, and they really seemed more like celebrities than like any sort of regular family. Jon was basically a guest at his kids' party, and the kids even commented about missing him! It was so bizarre. Now there's two more "parenting multiples" shows on TV, and I'm wondering how long it will take for their families to fall apart!!!

Posted by: Nicki at June 26, 2009 7:31 PM

That is understandable that cash can make us free. But what to do when one doesn't have cash? The one way only is to get the business loans and short term loan.

Posted by: WorkmanViola at July 10, 2010 8:03 AM