How dangerous are "reality" shows?


I have only watched Supernanny a few times, but it seems that a single father who was on the show in January has shot himself to death. How many "reality" shows "feed off" troubled people???

What is Jon & Kate Plus 8 doing to SO MANY people -- the kids, the relatives, Jon and Kate themselves?


Anonymous said...

And what is it doing to the audience? I mean how many of us are truly worried about these kids? Most of us have enough to worry about in life, but you can't watch this show and not feel bad for these kids having cameras in their face all the time and in on their private moments.

Anonymous said...

Yes, the story is true. It was on our local news last night. Very sad.

Anonymous said...

The shooting happened in Kentucky, it's been on the news this week.

Anonymous said...

I remember this Dad and his sons. So very sad. Those poor boys. My heart goes out to all those who loved him and to his boys. RIP

Darcy said...

I don't think he shot himself because of the stress from being on one episode of Supernanny. Maybe it had more to do with the stress of being a single dad.

Anonymous said...

Anybody have a link to the story? That is so sad to hear.

Steph said...

I don't know how much, if any, SuperNanny producers are to blame for this man's suicide. HE contacted the show and was assisted with learning how to parent. He was on television for less than an hour. We don't know what happened. Mental health treatment may well have been suggested to him along with improving his parenting skills. SuperNanny isn't like the Jenny Jones show, where an emotionally unstable man was tricked into believing his ex-girlfriend wanted to get back with him when,in fact,it was a homosexual man. It also is NOTHING like the Gosselins. There was a beginning date and an ending date to the filming done in his house. I did not see that episode,but I have seen the show. It generally ends on a positive note. Also, this man made the decision to air his own problems on TV, like Dr.Phil, Oprah, Maury and other shows of that sort. I was on Judge Judy...she is certainly more cut-throat than SuperNanny, and yet, I took my chances. I CHOSE to be on the show. I CHOSE to be filmed. I CHOSE to allow them to edit. I got a free trip to LA and was paid. MY decision. (and thank goodness my appearance was on before the advent of YouTube. *cough*)

The Gosselins are subjecting their very young children to cameras in their bowels and bladders, their tears, tantrums, fears, SHOWERS, etc on a daily basis, with no real end in sight. It is, sadly, the only life the tups know. Madelyn, who knew life before the cameras, sextuplets and "exhausted" parents,seems to be taking it the hardest. She has drawn pictures of just the four of them and seems to idealize her life before the tups. How much of that is her equating life before the tups with life before the cameras? These children did not choose this for themselves, and do not have the choice of "opting out". Not only is it on DVD forever, it is on YouTube. The twins are already aware of the words their parents are saying on the couch, and the tups will be understanding it all soon enough. Then what? How does a mother ever explain calling her sons "icky" and "dirty"? How does a father explain mocking his son's speech impediment, or laughing at him? How do they explain, when these children get older, why they did it at all?
Money is great. I wish I had more. I think almost everyone does. The difference is I would NEVER sell my children's dignity for some cash, clothing, Juicy Juice and trips. If Jon and Kate want to look like idiots on national TV, they can feel free to go on Divorce Court, Jerry Springer or whatever. They are able to make those decisions. Just as long as they don't drag Madelyn, Cara, Aaden, Collin, Joel, Alexis, Hannah and Leah with them.

minxie said...

Oh my god, how tragic. Those poor children.

mamamitch said...

I doubt that his suicide had anything to do with his appearance on Supernanny. I read somewhere on the internet that he suffered from a condition that left him in constant pain.

Steph said...

Mamamitch-the dad in Alaska is the one with chronic pain and a little bit of social anxiety. (Brian McAfee)He is one of my MySpace peeps.He has four kids-three girls and a boy. He is alive and doing very well. He has been awarded SOLE custody of his kids, is working, and now has a nice network of friends and neighbors.

Just clearing that up. I know we are only "myspace" friends,but just so you all know.

Steph said...

According to this article, Scott Terrill was in therapy. He had a rough childhood and was overcompensating by spoiling his boys, Lane and Tate.

mamamitch said...

Here is the article I found:

GEORGETOWN A Georgetown man struggled for years, battling a painful spine injury and fighting to obtain Social Security benefits. He even reached out to a television reality show, hoping to be a better dad to his two sons.

Friday night, his struggle ended in a Georgetown cemetery. Scott Terrill died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest after a 90-minute standoff with police.

Terrill carried a lot of emotional baggage from the past, said Dwayne Russell, pastor of Safe Harbor Baptist Fellowship in Georgetown, who will officiate at his funeral.

Despite those trials, Terrill was a dedicated father, Russell said. His appearance on a Supernanny episode that first aired in January showed his desire to be a better dad.

Terrill, 37, suffered from reflex sympathetic dystrophy since an accident about five years ago, said his mother, Margaret Ng.

The disorder causes sufferers to feel continuous, intense pain out of proportion to the severity of the injury, which gets worse rather than better over time. There is no cure.

Terrill had tried getting a job to work from home, but he could only sit up only a certain amount of hours of the day, Ng said.

It might not have looked like it on the TV, but he could not get up for more than a couple hours a day because of the RSD, she said.

The Supernanny episode featuring Terrill first aired on Jan. 23. Terrill said he had struggled to set boundaries for his sons, Lane and Tate, who were 11 and 5 at the time, because of his own harsh childhood.

In an attempt to avoid repeating the past, Terrill went to the other extreme, where he could not set discipline in his home.

Terrill later became the mascot for the show’s Foxy Dad of the Year competition.

Ng said Terrill went camping with his sons and was also involved with his eldest son’s soccer and his children’s schooling.

He was a loving father with a big heart, Ng said.

On Friday, Terrill called Georgetown police about 6:50 p.m., Capt. Scott Starns said Monday. He told police he was thinking of killing himself and had a gun.

Terrill asked to speak to Police Chief Greg Reeves, and told him he was at his father’s grave at the Georgetown Cemetery.

Officers went to the cemetery, blocking off the scene and evacuating some of the houses nearby.

As he talked to officers, Terrill had a .38-caliber handgun pressed to his chest the whole time, Starns said.

About an hour and a half into this whole scenario, they thought progress was being made, and he just abruptly squeezed the trigger, Starns said.

Scott County Coroner John Goble pronounced Terrill dead at Georgetown Community Hospital about 9 p.m.

Terrill grew up in Georgetown and attended Lexington Catholic High School, where he played basketball. He obtained his GED and went to one year of college at Morehead State University, Ng said.

In 2002 he ran in the Republican primary for a state House seat against Charlie Hoffman, but lost.

At Safe Harbor Baptist Fellowship, Russell said he had not seen or spoken to Terrill in six or seven months. But he said Terrill, a likeable guy who had been active in the church, had remained in contact with other church members.

Terrill’s death has greatly affected his congregation, Russell said. Many watched Terrill grow up, and church members have helped take care of his children.

People who are struggling with those emotional struggles, they need to get connected with other people, he said. Not one of us as human beings could handle the stresses and struggles of life by ourselves.

A graveside service will be 10:30 a.m. Wednesday at the Georgetown Cemetery. Visitation will be 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday at Tucker, Yocum & Wilson Funeral Home.There are two things that Scott’s story teaches us. One, is that the personal struggles (that we all face) can become overwhelming if we do not seek out support. We live in a society that makes connecting with others, easier than it has ever been. There are support groups, internet chat groups, moms groups, shows like Supernanny and many other resources for gaining emotional support. We never have to be alone, if we choose to allow others into our lives and actively seek them out. If you have suicidal thoughts, or even feel an overwhelming sense of hopelessness/loneliness, please reach out to someone. There are services that are dedicated to just that purpose, like 1-800-SUICIDE.Remember, suicideis a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

The second, less important lesson is this: What you see on a reality television show is never enough to assume that you know a person. Forty-three mniutes just isn’t enough time to paint a complete picture of anybody’s life. I read things about Scott that I had no idea he was dealing with. I’m sure you felt the same as you read the above excerpt. ABC had to show only the parenting aspect of Scott’s life, because of time constraints. Scott obviously dealt with so much more than what we were allowed to see. I can certainly attest to the fact that our lives are far more complicated than what you saw on March 5th’s episode of Supernanny. People assumed so many things about us, just as I’m sure they did about Scott. It is human nature to draw assumptions, I know. However, maybe this will teach us to be more compassionate when judging people based on a first impression, brief encounter, or even a television episode. Watch the Terrill episode again, this time with the knowledge that you’ve gained through this tragedy. I’m willing to bet that you will come away with a very different idea about Scott and his struggle to be a better father. I know that I sure will.

Anonymous said...

I am sorry this guy felt compelled to put his kids through a suicide drama. That is just mean.

AngieMack said...

Oh gosh! I remember that episode. He seemed like a really nice dad, who was trying to do the best he could for his boys.

Fidelia said...

Hellow everyone. Thank you, blog owners, for the opportunity afforded us every day to express our feeling about J&K. It helps relieve the stress about some of the episodes!

While we are on the topic of reality shows, I would just like to say that I don't think that J&K are making $64,000/episode. Of course, I could be wrong but earlier on I read that the going rate is between $10,000 and $25,000/episode.

The $64,000 *might* have been the total that the Gosselins made in their first year. I don't know where the 64K came from unless it was $10K/episodes and then extra for reruns - just a guess.

Would it be possible for MediaGuy to address this and could he look into it.

If they are making $64K, then why are they running around the country looking for handouts?

Thank you for this blog and for allowing me to ask my question. This is a wonderful blog!!


airezoe said...

The figure of $65,000 an episode was extrapolated by readers of TWoP, after a woman whose husband worked for TLC discussed the new contract negotiated by J&K. For two seasons' worth of filming, they were being paid about 2.6 million.
Readers jumped all over it, but because the mod thought (rightly) that it was conjecture, they deleted posts and banned the topic.
But no matter the amount per episode (and it's clearly enough to let them enjoy a pretty good lifestyle these days; I worked full time when my daughter was the tups' age, how about you?), it's not enough for the pain those kids are enduring.
On another note, there may be eight children in college at once in 14 years, and if J&K have banked any of this money, they may not qualify for financial aid.
I figure eight tuitions at a state university at conservatively $20,000 a year.
Eight x $20K = $160K per year x 4 years = $640,000. That's a big, big chunk of change to save/pay out.
I hope they are banking the money from this awful show so the kids benefit in some way, someday. College fund? Who knows? Parents smart enough to plan for the future? I don't think so.

Anonymous said...

People who are working poor and have eight children can get all kinds of assistance money.

AireZoe said...

People who are working poor are not contracted for seasons' worth of episodes by a production company for a cable network. Mutually exclusive.

Steph said...

Most couples who have 6 kids while unemployed (as Jon was) and on welfare (as they were) would not be rewarded. It was only because they were attractive and middle class that people reached out to them.

themediaguy said...

“you will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. you will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life”.
albert camus

i'll start by stating that all of the following is my opinion only. call it conjecture or speculation, i don't care. i'm sure there are people who claim to know the #'s and some who actually know them. the point is you don't need to have the actually numbers. you just need reasonable estimates and context to get a general sense of the financial impact. also, i'm going to try and keep my personal opinions of the show and j&k specifically to a minimum. i'll just say that the potential impact on the children makes me slightly uneasy.

so lets begin. j&k+8 is probably one of the most successful shows (if not the most) on tlc as well as discovery holdings. its has been ranked, at times, the top rated first run cable reality shows in a given week this yr. add to it its pretty easily defined demos, and its become an advertiser's wet dream (at least some of them).

65k sounded high to me. when i initially started to watch the show i thought they would be getting somewhere in the range of 10k to 35k per episode. if you look at other cable "reality" shows most tend not to be serials or episodic (use whatever term u want). so these show tend to be a good indicators of what “talent” cost networks are willing to incur for a single episode of a reality show. so take mtv's 2nd rate show "pimp my ride". its got low production cost. they have an added cost for a host that j&k do not have. but the network is willing to incur 15k to 35k in costs to upgrade the participant's car per episode. we’ll define that as the cost for talent. on another cable network, they are willing to spend up to 20k to capture people's weddings in exotic locations like bali. lets call that talent costs as well. so these cable networks are willing to spend 15k-35k for “talent”.

so j&k are worth at least 15k to 35k per episode now.. no way did they get anything close to these numbers in the first batch of episodes (what they define as seasons 1&2). at the time, no one really had an idea how the show would be received. thats likely why j needed to keep his day job early on (which i think the producers should have force him to keep for the show’s integrity and marketing as well as appeal). again they made nice money from season 1 and 2 but again no “i’m quitting my day job” money. probably nothing from dvds either. clearly they had a professional negotiate a nice deal for 2008. just look at the ramp up in first runs in this yr (close to 40 to date, 2x the first 2 “seasons” combined). assuming the new deal started in 2008, j&k have received 600k to 1.4m gross so far and likely 30 more coming down the pike for the rest of the year, and they are looking at 1.1m to 2.5m gross from the show alone in 2008. now, they have infrastructure in place (lawyers, agents, accountants, etc) that will lower that number. my guess is that the show potentially has another 2 years left in its run. the show could run longer. who knows. so do the math and you can see why j quit his day job to run the family biz. he will probably make in this yr what would have taken him at least 40 yrs to make as an “it analyst”. well done.

there is also a potentially huge untapped opportunity for the show (and thus the family) that no one seems to be talking about. the overseas opportunity, this is a popular “american” show. not many “reality” shows translate well overseas. this one has the potential to. its got a very attractive couple and kids. the kicker is that one of the parents is bi-racial. and that half is asian to boot. in my view the producers have not even come close to tapping this opportunity. they would be foolish not to. they will begin with an upcoming episode. keep this in mind.

anyway, i digress. this show is extremely profitable for everyone involved (j&k, producers, network, parent company, advertisers etc). sorry to say a couple of hundred people will not get this show cancelled anytime soon. something big needs to happen to get this show off the air, your heads will likely spin off thinking about the $$$ that will be made in the next several yrs.

the one thing i will note is that i find it offensive (if it is true) that j&k receive payment to speak at churches. this includes “love offerings”. maybe in 2007 i can see a justification for it. but not this year. no way. i read a comment earlier this week and couldn’t agree more. it is unconscionable to receive “love offerings” from a church congregation in which 99% of the folks make far less than they do. add in the current broader economic situation makes it even worse. i could care less about the freebies and what they make from the show. hey, its capitalism. go get after it while the window is open. go and speak at a school and charge admission. i have no problem with that. but to go to a church and not do it for free……ugh!

i’ll end by saying i could be wrong with all of the above. its happened before and will happen again,.

"thank you, god, for this good life and forgive us if we do not love it enough." garrison keillor

FIONA said...

Thanks for the rundown media what are your thoughts about the kids and how they will fare?

Anonymous said...

Thank you Mediaman.
Do you have any knowledge if J & K are getting paid residuals for all the repeats that are being shown? If they don't, TLC is raking in megabucks on the backs of all 8 children.

themediaguy said...

“the price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it. “
henry david thoreau

i had read somewhere that it costs roughly 1 million present day $$$ to raise a child in the northeast (this includes pa). this is from infant to adult (22). but this estimate was 7 years ago. now this includes many variables that can easily be changed to lower that number ( and yes, i have seen much lower figures but this one stuck out with its detail).

the biggest chunk will only get larger going forward– college costs. the cost of tuition, room and board (at a private college/university) is rising at least 3x the rate of inflation. so at this rate the cost of college will double every 8 years. i will assume this hold true for state colleges as well. a daunting view for any parent. so while j&k are doing extremely well, they are probably not “there” yet. then again not many of us are.

i’m not smart enough to know what the psychological impact being on a show like this will have on their kids. all i know is that both parents are around and together. as parents i’m assuming they love their kids. they have a home and are fed. so from my view their basic needs appear to be met (and probably more). are there issues? sure. everyone here has done a great job discussing and analyzing them. in fact, its made me turned the microscope on my own interactions with my kids and try and adjust accordingly.

back to the original question. imo, if they don’t ramp up their lifestyle and expenses too much. and they saved as much of their earnings as possible. investing it wisely and generating a decent annual return. (8% per yr for 10 yrs will more than double their $$) they should be able to grow their assets and offset the rising costs of college plus have something left towards retirement.

“maybe all one can do is hope to end up with the right regrets. “
arthur miller

Anonymous said...

Did a little calculating on J&K+8 TLC payments.
Using 6K per episode as the base amount, dividing by 10 (each Gosselin), then by 12 (for a 12 hour day which is conservative) each Gosselin makes $50 an hour. Speaking for myself, I would not violate my family's privacy and sanity for $50 an hour. If this is indeed what J&K are being paid per episode, they need a new agent. Or retire (preferably).

SmartyQ said...

Thank you, themediaguy, for your enlightening posts. I wish you luck.

'Luck is not getting what you wanted, but what you would have wanted, had you but known.' --Garrison Keillor

Anonymous said...

I live amongst the "Real Housewives of OC" and know that the second season the returning girls of the first season were pulling in $50K. I know that's Bravo and can't confirm if it was per episode or not but the girls weren't denying the per episode $$ when asked.

Anonymous said...

I am Stacy, Brian McAfee's ex-wife. I thought I maybe could clear up some misinformation.

Brian never had "SOLE" custody of our kids. In Alaska, physical custody is 70/30, with a 50/50 split of legal custody. (It is *extremely* difficult for *anyone* in Alaska to get sole custody). Right now, we are waiting to go to court so that 100% guardianship of the kids can be legally given to my parents, who are providing everything for them at this point, including shelter. The paperwork has already been signed.

(Please check the facts yourself at: type in "McAfee", go to the case number ending in 09194CI, under the "events" tab at the bottom of the page will be our newest court date next week... this will be to finalize guardianship).

And Brian isn't working. He left the state for a number of weeks beginning in April or May. He signed over the condo (yes, the one on the show) and I cleaned it and sold it in June. The Eliana, Kaia, and Anna are living with my parents full-time, and Silas is living with my partner and myself full-time, with weekend visitation with grandma, grandpa, dad and siblings. Silas was almost three grades behind in school at the beginning of summer, so we have paid for him to get tutoring and get him caught up. He's doing very well now.

Brightest Blessings. :)

Anonymous said...

Reality TV has just gone way too far. I don't mind shows like Survivor or Next Food Network Star, because usually the "contestants" on these programs actually know what they are getting into. The twins and 'tups didn't have a choice. I am in a documentary making class this year and the first thing we learned is that we should NEVER exploit take advantage of the subjects and should document their lives with good intentions and kindness. Reality TV (which actually is concidered an offshoot of documentary film) does NOT take this into account. They edit their subjects in some times very cruel ways just to provide entertainment.