Monday, May 18, 2009

My Take on Jon & Kate + 8

Over the last year or so, Maggie and I have closely followed the life of Jon and Kate Gosselin and their family of 8 children. For those of you who are not familiar with the Gosselin bunch, they are a family of twins and sextuplets whose lives are filmed frequently and air weekly on TLC in half hour episodes. Each episode varies from trips to Disney World, to the bakery, and to life around the house. By the way, each of these trips to Disney World and any other special resort are all paid for by the resort, essentially giving this family of ten a free ride to a place they otherwise could not afford.

Without going into too much of a history, the show is about to enter its fifth season, with the twin girls around age nine and the sextuplets (three boys and three girls) having recently turned five. The show has seen the family launch to stardom, with the mother, Kate, having written two books (that I'm aware of) and frequently traveling around the country to do book signings and lectures on parenting.

Since Maggie and I first started watching, we have seen a dramatic change in this family. And I'm not talking about the kids growing up. While, yes, the kids have grown up and appear to be wonderful kids, we have also seen the toll that it has taken on the marriage of Jon and Kate. Kate's appearance has drastically changed over the last few years since the start of the show, and recently I discovered that she has her own bodyguard (more on that in a minute), which I find somewhat ridiculous. While I don't know what kind of reception that Kate receives when she is on her tours around the country, I personally find it hard to believe that she would be welcomed by hoards of screaming fans who merit the protection of a bodyguard. But, who knows? There are times where it feels like Kate has allowed this "celebrity" status to go to her head, and even carries herself as though she is a full-blown Hollywood celebrity instead of an average parent.

One of the other changes we've noticed is in the interaction between Jon and Kate. Even at the beginning, I've never seen much chemistry between them. There are times where I've found myself wondering if they are even in love. There are times where it's seemed more like a partnership then anything else. Maggie and I have also been shocked at the way Kate treats her husband. She frequently cuts him off in their interview segments, demeans him and insults him, and even mocks him. There was one interview where she even said:
"Stop breathing so loud, I can't hear myself talk."
There is frequent arguing and bickering during filming. While this is natural in any marriage, the amount that they do is somewhat disturbing, especially when it takes place in public. I have even fallen under the impression that Jon does not like her. Kate frequently does what she can to be the center of the attention, even appearing uninterested in anything that does not involve or is not instigated by her.

Near the end of this past season, it was openly stated that Jon does not like the show, does not want to continue the show, and wants to be able to live his life normally. He is not able to do this with cameras frequently around, and wants to be able to go to the store and not worry about people recognizing him. Kate, on the other hand, wants to continue the show, feeling that it is great for her family and that it has no impact on the children or their marriage.

I disagree. Especially when, this past week, Jon and Kate have been the cover story of every major magazine. The topic; their marriage troubles. With rumors and gossip circling that Jon has cheated on Kate and Kate has cheated on Jon with her bodyguard, it definitely appears that their is trouble in paradise. Despite what Kate is saying, the show about their lives appears to be taking its toll on their marriage, and will most likely devastate their children, because if their marriage falls apart, it will be done on television, documented for their children to watch for the rest of their lives.

Yet, Kate does not want to end the show. In fact, there are rumors that if they were to separate or divorce, the show would continue as simply Kate + 8, documenting how this single mom is raising 8 children all by herself. Honestly, I would not watch anymore. I feel that this is bordering on exploitation of the children, if it has not already. This family has made millions off of this show and all the book deals and tours that they have secured. And yet, their family is falling apart because they have allowed the entire world into their lives to witness their day-to-day lives.

The upcoming fifth season will no likely be a ratings bonanza for TLC. But it will also come under serious scrutiny. Will we witness the fall of Jon and Kate's marriage? Or will it be glossed over, ignored and treated as though it is not taking place? If their marriage troubles are ignored, then the show loses its credibility as accurately depicting their lives openly and honestly. If it depicts the collapse of their marriage, there will be calls for the show to end so that this family can pull themselves together.

I feel the show should end now. This show has taken its toll on this family, and these children will be scarred for the rest of their lives, especially if they are able to pop in a DVD and watch their parents' marriage fall apart. This family needs to given room to fix their marriage, if it is at all fixable. And if it cannot be fixed, they need to be allowed the privacy they deserve, and spared the humiliation of going through divorce on national television. As it is, that probably will not happen anyway, with or without the show.

Very few families can survive the rigors of having their lives broadcast openly on national television, and the Gosselin family is another one of those families who cannot escape that fate. I wish them all the best and hope that they can resolve their differences, but I cannot see that happening as long as their house is filled with cameras.

I implore Jon and Kate to ditch this show and to focus not on the celebrity that they have acquired, but to focus on their kids. They've already gone through abnormal lives, and it's time that they be allowed to grow up like normal kids. They need to save their family and tough it out like any normal family would.


Dave said...

I have not watched the show, nor will I. These "reality shows" are not reality. Though they are "average people" they are living an abnormal life. Their actions are shaped by the thoughts of their actions being viewed and judged by others. Day after day of this will significantly change people. Minor issues can become magnified before the camera.

It sounds like the mother loves the light of the camera and being the center of attention. The husband wants to get back to living the life of the past, living and making decisions without concerns about the cameras.

The show will die quickly if people stop watching it. Unfortunately, if the marriage is falling, the ratings will remain strong as people tune in to watch it is the same base dynamic that drew crowds to hangings.

Jenn said...

if she wants to continue the show, it shows where her priorities lie. very very sad, especially for the kids.

Stephen said...

A good perspective. I've seen the show and I'm impressed how well you have grabbed the relationship issues.

I agree - they need to cease this show and focus on being a private family. I have found this show rather disturbing at times. We no longer watch - not because we don't want to - but because our basic cable does not carry the station that it is on.

Evie said...

I've never watched the show and I certainly don't intend to do so now. I have no need to watch someone's personal struggles take place in a public venue. Jon and Kate have both made mistakes, but it looks like Kate is being the bigger fool now. I hope she enjoys the money, because that may be all she ends up with in a few years. Having said all that, it's obvious that the show's given you and Maggie some opportunities to talk about relationship issues. If other people have taken similar lessons from it, maybe it's done some good. Still, the cost to this family has been too high - there had to have been a better way to teach the same lessons.