I remember the one-hour special that introduced us to the Gosselins. How cute was Mady playing with the 'tups at their cool table whilst Jon prepared their meal! Shortly after, I recall seeing adverts for the new series Jon and Kate Plus Eight and I was curious but never got around to checking it out. During this past winter’s writer’s strike, with nothing on TV, J&K+8 was suddenly appealing -- especially with all the “marathons” on TLC. It was so easy to catch up! I became hooked on the adorable kiddies (especially Collin!), the crazy mom, and the exasperated dad.
But things changed for me with the incident now known as GumGate. I was never a fan of Contradiction Kate and thought her behaviour was over-the-top (Utah plane meltdown, anyone?) and her dictator ways beyond extreme (the no birthday cupcakes was just wrong). I cried for Collin as Kate threatened to throw away his bear. What kind of human being would threaten to take a three-year-old’s security away from him?!
That scene made me take a different look at this show and start to ask some questions.. Where is their extended family? (Admittedly, this has always bothered me from day one that no family is ever around.) Why do those kids always play in the driveway and not their spacious backyard? Had Kate never heard of play clothes? Why do the ‘tups seem light years behind in development compared to other four-year-olds I know? Why has Jon suddenly stopped working? Where are they getting all the money for trips and outings, the iPods, gym memberships, spa days, family photography and Gap Kids clothes?
I had these questions but never really looked beyond what I saw on the show until I accidentally stumbled upon the J&K+8 Facebook fan page and a post about Aunt Jodi and her sister. I started reading and found myself immersed in a web of information for hours, the lies and deception so apparent. Soon, it all became clear, and watching the show now, I am so surprised my usually cynical self missed all the signs.
They play in the driveway because Kate doesn’t want stains on the free kids clothes she will later sell on consignment. The ‘tups seems behind for their age because Kate and Jon are busy making deals all day and not assisting with their children’s development or engaging in creative play and craft projects. Jon doesn’t work anymore because they are living off the show now. The families/friends are not involved because they are upset this show is even going on or have been blacklisted for speaking out (IMO). They don’t need money for extravagances because they are getting everything for free.
It’s disheartening to say the least that these poor children have no clue the profits they generate just for being cute and on TV. Oh the rude awakening they will receive when the show inevitably stops and they don't get to bypass the lines at Disney or shop in stores after-hours anymore. Sometimes I find it appalling the humiliations that are aired: the way Kate speaks to Jon, the way Kate behaves in general, the cringe-worthy growing-up mishaps the children experience. And why, after witnessing these events unfold on their program, have Jon and Kate not ceased production (I’d be ashamed if I behaved in half the way Kate does, and would never want that shown on national TV)?
But beyond all the deception and lack of dignity, is the fact that it’s now visible this program is having a detrimental effect on the children and their development/temperament, Jon and Kate’s marriage, and the family as a whole. My heart breaks for Mady for all the teasing she no doubt endures by her peers who see her tantrums on TV or hear the way her parents speak about her in couch interviews. I worry that when the ‘tups start school, they too will face the same humiliations over their “pictures with potty poop,” constipation, baths and ill behaviour that have been allowed for public consumption – sick Joel vomiting on the laundry room floor! Cara pitching a fit about her shoes!
I want to say thank you for this blog, for opening people’s eyes (mine even wider). As much as I’m curious to see these children grow, I do not want them to be subjected to this staged situation any longer. They deserve to grow up in a private, loving and nurturing environment, not in the circus they currently live, with Kate as the cantankerous ring master and Jon as her monkey-boy doing tricks.
Blog entry created with permission via an e-mail from Sera.