I’ve been watching Jon and Kate Plus Eight since it started, and I really used to love the show. Last season, though, I thought I’d give it up. I used to watch it because I loved seeing how the family managed everyday life — how they managed to get everyone to the dinner table, how they toilet trained three kids at once, how they got the laundry done. There was always, always someone crying, and watching the show at the end of the day always made me feel a lot better about my day.

Kate used to say that she didn’t see anything inspiring about her family, but I did — I found it inspiring that despite the chaos and mayhem, Jon and Kate didn’t just give up. It would have been so easy to throw in the towel and let the kids run wild, but still they were in there giving out time-outs and trying to provide playdates and serving up balanced meals. If they had the strength to continue to just be parents, day after day, then I could, too.

Last season, though, the show became much more about freebies. Now that the show is a hit, Jon and Kate have enough money and sponsorships to pay for help with the kids and to take the kids to all sorts of exotic locations. Instead of having episodes about how they managed to get to preschool and back, the shows were about their recent trip to California, or the free visits they had backstage with the Harlem Globetrotters, or the awesome free washer and dryer they got. All of their friends and family seemed to have disappeared, replaced with paid staff. I was happy to see they were doing well and everything, but the show didn’t have the same relatability, the same daily-life inspiration, so I lost interest.

And then of course, BIG SCANDAL and all that, so I watched the season premiere this week. I have to admit I thought that all the magazine covers and tabloid coverage was a big publicity stunt. However, it was very clear on the show that Jon and Kate are estranged, at best, and it was just such a sad, sad, train wreck to watch.

Unlike most of the internet, I’ve always been sympathetic to Kate. She absolutely could be nicer to her husband, but I really relate to her struggles as a stay-at-home mom. If someone came to my door and offered me a book deal, I would absolutely jump at the chance. If going on a book tour was part of that contract, I would still say yes, and I would expect Sir Monkeypants to support me. It would be such a big deal for me, I could not pass it up. I know Kate travels a lot now, and that’s a problem. But I understand her need to have something for herself.

And while we’re on the topic of Kate, I don’t have a problem with her weight loss, her improved wardrobe, or her time in a tanning booth, either. I’m sure in the first two years that the show was on TV, she got dozens of emails from crazy internet people calling her a Fat Cow and telling her she had ugly hair and that her clothes were fugly. It gets hard to constantly rise above that sort of stuff — eventually, you’re on TV, you’re being photographed all the time, you want to look better. I get that too.

But of course, I have a lot of sympathy for Jon, too. I’m sure Kate looks back on the first three years of the sextuplet’s lives, when she was home alone with them all day, and points to that as a parallel to what Jon is doing now. But it is absolutely not the same thing — when your spouse is there in the morning and will be coming home at the end of the day, it just makes a huge difference to the workload and to the connectivity of your family.

My parents’ marriage fell apart for many reasons, but the biggest was that my father had a job that required almost constant travel — in the last two years of their marriage, he was gone for about 25 days out of every month. It got easier for us to function without him than with him — his presense disrupted the morning bathroom schedule and the breakfast routine, for example — and once your family prefers to have you away than home, it’s a big problem. I can see Jon, so many days handling everything alone, and thinking that his partner is already gone — so why not make it official?

Ugh, it’s just all bad.

It’s become painful to watch the show, painful to read about it and see it. I hope for the best for their family, but I fear the worst. The reality show seemed relatively harmless and kind of fun at the beginning, but now I see the kind of life-long effect it will have on the kids. I didn’t get it before — the kind of exposure they were going to be facing — but now I do. There will probably be photographers camped outside their school and house for years to come. When Cara and Mady start university, photographers will be there to catch them at every frat party, every Spring Break trip, every skipped class. When the sextuplets start high school, there will probably be a four-page spread in People magazine. And that’s all assuming that they stop the reality show NOW. If they actually keep it going…I can’t imagine the attention and exposure.

I’d try to help out by inviting the adorable kiddies over for a playdate, but I don’t want the paparazzi at my house. So I guess the Gosselins will just have to figure it all out for themselves — in front of millions.

7 thoughts on “Ugly

  1. I’ve never seen the show but have certainly heard enough about it to wonder what mother in her right mind would expose her family to this sort of publicity? Never in a million years!! And I’m pretty sure this whole SCANDAL was contrived to bring viewers back to the show since like you, a lot of people had stopped watching. The whole thing is just gross in my opinion.

  2. I watched in the first few seasons. I liked it for a lot of the reasons you listed. Last year I caught a few episodes and I couldn’t watch. It looked too contrived. I didn’t watch the premiere but I sorta wish I had (the whole train wreck syndrome, you know). It is sad it has come to this. I just hope the kids are able to grow up alright. It is a hard thing to do with that much media around.

  3. I’ve never watched the show either. I always kind of felt uncomfortable about the idea of it. And now that all this has come out the whole thing just seems so sad. Marriage and family is hard enough to deal with normally. We all go through rough spots, but at least most of us don’t have complete strangers weighing in on who’s a fault. I feel awful for the kids, but for the parents too. I’m sure they never expected they were opening up this great bi can of worms when they signed on for the show.

    I wonder if they even can exit out of the show now, or if they are bound by a contractual agreement that would penalize them terribly for breaking their contract. Maybe it would still be worth it to try to gain back some privacy.


  4. I just watched it last night for the second time.
    The first was during the first season.
    It was pretty painful to see actually- though the kids seem to be holding up quite well.

    What’s up with John’s white sports 2 seater car?
    not exactly a practical family ride?
    and I think Kate is quite cute- But honestly 1986 called and wants the hairstyle back.
    That’s reality T.V. for you (and hey I know- I’ve been on it- so who knows whats been said about my hair..)

  5. I’ve never watched it (no TOLC) and was quite astonished by the water cooler talk the next day at work. It would seem that EVERYONE watches it.

    I know about the show and the changes it went through with all the freebies and then the scandal because, well I might not have TLC but I don’t live under a rock. I feel sorry for the kids for all the reasons you mentioned Lynn. How terrible to live in the spotlight, not by your choice. Hopefully the show will fizzle out quickly and the producers have a shred of decency and will not create mote scandal for ratings and in a few years time everyone will have pretty much forgotten about them and turned their interest to someplace else and the kids can do to school without the paparazzi waiting for them.

    I live in a bubble don’t it?

  6. sue

    Between his father, the movies, and the media, Culkin says he’d “lost all conception of what it was like to be normal.” Additionally, says Culkin, his father was often drunk and obnoxious.

    When he was 14, Culkin’s parents, who had never married, separated, and began a bitter and costly court battle over custody of Culkin and his brothers and sisters, most of whom had film “careers”, thanks largely to Kit. Culkin’s father had moved out, and his mother was spending so much on lawyers that the rest of the family was living in near poverty. Macaulay quit show business, and eventually took both his parents to court to gain control of the money he’d earned.

    THIS sounds similar….will greedy holliwood parents never change

  7. I really liked John&Kate. I liked that they seemed like a real couple. They fought, they teased each other and said things the later had to apologize for. They didn’t seem to be putting on a show or an act. And their kids are ridiculously cute.

    Honestly, I *HOPE* it’s all a publicity scandal. While it would be pretty despicable, it makes me sad to think of their family breaking up. All those little ones? They need TWO parents.

    I didn’t catch the season premier, but I do google them periodically… cause online media reports are totally reliable, right?

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