Episode Recap: A Day in the Life - 01/07/2008

Written by Dew

Alexis or Leah: "On this episode of Jon and Kate Plus Eight!" I cannot for the life of me tell those two apart. Not that I'm trying very hard. Though everyone else? No problem.

Anyway, on this episode: Screaming! Crying! Hitting! Harder hitting! Chaos! More screaming! Kate says huffily, "Kids everywhere!" Yeah, that might happen when you have eight children. It's 6:10 AM, and everyone is awake. Even Kate, who has said many times before she routinely gets to sleep in while Jon and everyone else takes care of her responsibilities. She's complaining about being up so early, of course, and pounding the coffee. I think the producers thought it might look odd to just let Kate sleep in like normal on a filming day. Besides, Figure 8 knows for damn sure it's all calm and pleasant and rather boring, frankly, when Kate is not around, so I suspect producer Jen probably dragged her out of bed at the ungodly hour of six AM so they could get some good footage right off the bat and not have to wait several more hours for the real show to begin. I try to remember the last time I got up later than six AM, but I'm only depressing myself. Kate informs us that perfect twin Cara always awakes and gets ready for the day "beautifully," because she is the good twin. Mady, the evil twin, in case you didn't remember, does not. "Say whha???" says Jon. Jon rightly and justifiably corrects Kate and tells her actually no, Cara is just as much of a pain as Mady, get your facts right, beeitch! Well, that's not exactly how he says it, but close enough. Turns out reality is Cara does not get up quite as beautifully as she does in Kate's head. This six-year-old can't even dress herself, actually. Jon has to practically put her clothes on for her. And for some reason she brings her clothes downstairs to dress. Even with the crew there and the cameras and the rest of the zoo? That's a little odd. But no one else seems to think this is all that strange.

Cara is shown whining around downstairs. It's so beautiful when a child whines. Jon says "let the people know" that he is the one who gets the twins ready for school. It's okay Jon, we already knew that. We believed you a long time ago. Kate is all making fun of him that he wants his public, I guess that means us, to be clear about who is pulling more than their fair share here. It would be fine to make fun if she actually did stuff. But since she doesn't, point goes to Jon here. Again, it was always perfectly clear who does the lion's share of the work in this family, so Jon can just relax.

Haha, Mady is informing Cara over breakfast that she is sitting in her spot. Cara is all, I am not. Mady insists, "Just one day you just stole my place." I'm sure that's exactly what happened back in the day, and I'm sure everyone believed Cara's version of the story and not Mady's. But since "places" at a table are a little silly, and it should kind of be first come first served, like most things in life are, I'm afraid Mady's gonna have to suck up this particular issue. Jon and Kate talk about how their schedule has changed so much since the twins started first grade and go to school all day. I assume they mean they can't plan as many production events that involve the twins during the week anymore, and since production usually wants all eight kids present come hell or high water, now that they're in school scheduling certain tapings has become really hard! Good job, twins, it's all your fault.

Jon and Kate seemed genuinely shocked that the girls are actually in school all day now, as if they didn't realize this moment would come and come very soon. It's not nostalgia exactly, it's more like, dang, I didn't notice our children are in first grade until now. Well, it would be hard to notice what with trying to put on a national television show all the time. Kate takes us through a laundry list of foods Cara and Mady like and don't like as she finishes packing their lunches. I suppose this is to convince us she pays attention to the individuality of her children. Not convinced. And, yawn, boring. Except for the part about Mady not liking dairy products. Really, all dairy products? Kate scoffs at this just being Mady, but I worry that the child might possibly be lactose intolerant which, by the way, occurs much more frequently among the Asian population. Kate maybe should know that, being a nurse, bring it to the attention of her pediatrician and maybe get her some meds that would make dairy a lot more pleasant for her. However, Kate never sees Mady's little quirks as anything more than annoying inconveniences Mady has dreamed up to make Kate's life harder. Poor Mady, she's going to miss out on string cheese her whole life AND have brittle bones, because of Kate. Kate tucks a family photo and a note in their lunchboxes to read at school, which is what my mom did sometimes, and I adored it. Kate made a little bubble coming from her mouth in the photo. Oh, God, Kate won't shut up even when it's just a picture of her! I assume the bubble says, "Hello, over here, eight kids coming through!" or something to that effect. Okay, Kate's napkin note to Mady is debatable. On the one hand it's sweet in that it talks about how much she loves her and misses her. On the other hand, it's a passive-aggressive lecture about being kind and not being a brat at school. Which is annoying at any age. I would feel better if Cara's note were identical so I would know Kate's not just picking on Mady as usual, but we never see hers. Nonetheless, I've never known a first grader to actually pull out their napkin and use it for anything other than spit wads, so I don't know if Mady ever even saw the note.

The little kids are in the master bedroom watching morning cartoons, according to their parents. You know, Kate and Jon often lie and say the kids don't watch TV, when they in fact do watch TV. But it appears they watch a reasonable amount and it's never been suggested they watch too much or are plopped in front of the tube for any lengthy period of time, and I don't get why Jon and Kate ever felt the need to pretend that their children don't watch TV. It doesn't mean you're a bad parent or something. It's perfectly reasonable to let them watch twenty minutes of cartoons while the adults focus on getting the twins out the door. Sadly, I think the TV thing is truly a reflection of how on the defensive they are right now about their parenting. And how much they miss the mark on what the real issue is that so many people have with them. I'll give them a hint, it's not about how much TV the children watch. But it does have to do with TV, and how your children are on it. Every week. Without so much as a break between seasons. It's like they heard the public was upset about something to do with TV, but didn't quite get all the details. On the actual TV though? That looks like Jon and Kate Plus 8 to me. Is this considered a cartoon to Kate? I suppose sometimes it feels like maybe Road Runner the way she clonks Jon all the time. All she needs is an anvil. Good, so the kids can start the day fresh watching their parents berate, belittle and ridicule the six of them, Mady, and each other. They might need cups of coffee of their own after this. Collin says "Sassy" hit him. Who's Sassy? A Tup we don't know about who until now managed to escape all this madness somehow? Oh, it's just Alexis. I guess that's her new nickname or something. I'm not sure how Kate says with a straight face, "We don't touch other people. We keep our hands to ourselves." Since Sassy/Alexis was just watching Jon and Kate Plus 8, maybe she saw her mother hit her father and just imitated it. Like kids imitate video games and things like that. Anyway, she heads to time out. I wish someone would send Kate to time out when she slaps Jon. Kate and Jon say time outs are "sporadic" and "often." Last time I checked, those two words were antonyms. Kate needs to be donated a dictionary. Maybe the Webster people were watching this episode.

These parents get into a ridiculously long explanation of their use of time outs. They've already covered this ad nauseum in previous episodes, so I won't go into it lest I fall asleep. Bottom line, when the kids hit, they go into time out. When Kate hits, it's a big joke. Geez, Kate says when Alexis wants something "she'll like beat somebody to get it, and that's just Alexis." Um, no, that's just bad behavior.

Kate says it is so lonely with the twins gone all day, even though that's crazy to say. It's crazy to miss your kids? Okay, Crazy. Coming up! Kate is so lonely without the twins she has resorted to throwing dirty diapers around. And at the producer who pretty much made her who she is, no less! We're back, and the kids are talking about how Aaden peed on the floor last night. Ew, how did that happen?! Kate can't believe the boys still aren't potty trained. But wasn't it Kate herself who said she was holding back the boys because she wanted to do the girls first? So, maybe that's why they're not potty trained, genius. The thing is, these kids have everything else done for them, it doesn't surprise me they don't realize they actually have to go to the bathroom by themselves. Kate indulges Aaden by changing his diaper in the middle of the living room floor. For some reason Kate chucks Aaden's dirty diaper at producer Jen. I thought the point of a reality show is to pretend the crew isn't there. She is treating Jen like her, well, her maid, I guess. Although most people I know with maids are much more polite to them. Kate claims she can't even remember this incident. She has what is termed selective memory, just like what my grandmother always said my grandfather had. Fortunately, Kate's dirty deed was captured on film, otherwise we might as well just resign ourselves to the fact that it never happened. Jen says, "You wanna tell me why you think that's okay?" That's right, Jen! It's not okay! Kate kind of laughs it off, and Jen somewhat chuckles, but you can tell it's a chuckle that sort of says, "I'm irritated about this and it was very inappropriate, but it's kind of hard to convey that without being a total bitch." To that I say, go ahead be a bitch. But that's just me. Kate actually apologies. Although it really has no actual sincerity behind it, because Kate is one dimensional and thinks Jen is completely joking. Even though Jen really isn't. At most, she's half joking. Jen continues firmly, "you're sorry that you threw feces at me?" I'm for one sorry that Jen got feces thrown at her. I think Jen is smart, kind of hip, and I like her glasses. But I do not like that she is an active participant in the child exploitation that is this show.

Moving on. It's breakfast time, and now Kate is throwing stuff at her children, this time a bib at Collin. Kate thinks this is hysterical, but Collin is slightly annoyed, I'm not sure over the fact that his bib was thrown at his face, or that he still has to wear a bib. Honestly, they need bibs at breakfast? For heaven's sake, are they having barbecued fruit loops or something? I wish Collin had a little better hand/eye coordination and threw that bib right back in her face. Oh well, the time will come, soon. Kate says in that martyr tone she loves to embody, all she does all day is make a meal, clean up a meal, and change diapers. She forgot, and make her TV show. Hannah has a few bits of cereal on her placemat and is eating them off the mat. At most it's like four little cereal flakes. Kate warns her, "If you make a mess, you're done." Done? What does that mean? That sounds serious. And Hannah is only three and physically doesn't have the coordination yet to eat as neat as a new pin, so how much of a mess will Kate allow here? You know, Kate puts these children in bibs, sort of acknowledging messes are going to happen. Certainly they shouldn't be intentionally making huge messes, but a little disorganization is a reality at meals when kids are this little. Besides, that's how you learn how to handle the task better. Before Hannah can even get a chance to clean up her four-cereal-flakes "mess," and mind you there wasn't even a cut here to indicate any passage of time, Kate says that's it, she's done, and takes her cereal away! So, she doesn't get to eat breakfast now? Hannah is understandably upset. Normally I think Hannah gets away with murder just like her mentor Cara and I'd be happy to see her not getting away with something for once, but this is way out of line. Even more disturbing? Hannah tries to explain that she simply didn't want to eat the milk and was trying to get the cereal out of the milk. She wants dry cereal, you see. Heck, maybe she's lactose intolerant, too. But that doesn't cross Kate's mind, again. All Kate has to ask is, "Does the milk make your tummy hurt, honey?" This is not hard. Instead, she drags Hannah into time out when Hannah tries to explain herself further. Kate suggests a whole episode about kids going to time outs. Um, no thanks. After breakfast she brushes their teeth. Tip from Kate: leave a set of toothbrushes downstairs and one upstairs. Okay, that might actually be the first rather useful household tip she has ever given us, even though most mothers have probably figured this out already. Because kids never want to brush their teeth in the first place, so having toothbrushes close by so they don't have to trudge all the way upstairs to do it isn't a bad idea. Of course Kate might be surprised to learn that a heck of a lot of Americans can't even afford a two-story house, so this isn't really an issue for many families. Production lets the kids listen to the headphones and play with the microphone and camera and interact with the crew. This episode really lives up to its name, Day in the Life, in that the children do indeed spend many days with headphones, microphones, and cameras in their faces! Well done.

Kate takes the kids outside where she has tied in about six knots a jump rope to Collin's little car and a little wagon. Collin is picking up and pulling around various siblings, which is cute. Kate says he does things like this because he's a control freak. Wonder where he gets that from. Aaden wants a ride, too, and Kate instructs him to say "Excuse me, Joel, it's my turn." Instead, Aaden turns to Joel and just says: "Out." Ha! After all the people on the forums complained for about six months that Kate never reads with her children, they finally show us Kate sharing a book with them. Well, when I say children, I mean the important ones. The girls, that is. Alexis, I think, clonks Collin on the head. Kate sends her to time out, where she screams and a sound guy stands by to capture it all with the microphone. Why is the crew in every shot of this episode? So weird. I guess I go back to, since it's day in the life, and the crew is part of that, that's why they keep showing them. Commercials.

We're back, and in a further attempt to convince us Kate is attentive and engages her children, she is setting up little art projects for them with crayons and stamps and things. She warns them if they fight over the crayons they will be "gone." Into the black hole where Hannah's cereal went I assume! Kate admits she needs to make more of an effort to do things like this with them, which is refreshing to hear. Kate is making lunch. And by lunch I mean about four tortilla chips with a little bit of salsa on top. That looks so very filling and satisfying. Kate has left all of these children outside alone in the garage again, Mady and Cara for sure aren't there since they're at school and Jon is at work, and when she opens the door we don't even see any crew anywhere at least making sure nobody dies. I really fear someday some terrible accident is going to happen and not only will no one have seen it to know what happened, but no one will be around to help the poor child. Frightening. Alexis, I think, is screaming and clutching her head. Collin hit her. Kate orders Collin to say he's sorry and hug her. Alexis rightly cries, "No!" and brushes Collin off. Be battered by an abuser, then hug the abuser. Yeah, I think I would be saying "No!" too. I also think there were no crew out there with them because nobody caught this incident on film. Otherwise they would have shown it. Though I'm more concerned poor Alexis was told to hug the child who just hurt her. Kate brings them out their four tortilla chips. She remarks how cranky her children are at lunch and how "horrible." Maybe because their lunch consists of about four tortilla chips? Just a hunch. Alexis and Collin are fighting once again. This is getting old. Collin forcefully pushes her off the bench at lunch. I shouldn't find this funny, but I do. He was so persistent about it, pushing and pushing until she topples over. Alexis screams like a banshee. A literal banshee. God. Kate and Jon explain those two are not good together. You might say they go together like oil and water, tea and salt, or Kate and her estranged family members. Kate's punishment? She orders them to "hug each other. Now!" I thought punishment was time out. They just explained time outs before the last commercial. Now the punishment is hugging? Realizing she doesn't have much of a choice here, Alexis reluctantly leans in for a second to allow the abuser to touch her again. "They will not be taking each other to the prom," Kate remarks. Ew, I would hope they wouldn't be doing that anyways. This isn't the Duggar family or something. At least I don't think so. However, Kate loves Collin because he helps clean up everything. He is her helper boy. He is forgiven I guess. The way to Mommy's heart is through a dust cloth. It's naptime, and Kate is still insisting the kids hug. Why? It is naptime, not disembarking for the Italian Riviera for the summer. The kids are like, whatever. Even one of the boys says, "For cripe sake, Mother, I don't want to hug!" Actually, he just says "I don't want to hug," but same idea. The girls say they want to have nap time with the boys, and Kate says they may not sleep with the boys until they are married. I know what she means, but ick! It makes it sound like they can't sleep with their brothers until they get married. Gross. Naptime isn't exactly naptime, we find out. It's a time for Kate to turn on the TV for the kids and have some quiet. Fair enough. Woo-hoo, they're watching Dutch Wonderland, which I recapped here. And if you read my recap you'll know how horrendously traumatic and stressful this episode was, not the least of which was Kate and Jon remarking about what a downright pain in the ass Mady is all the time, so this is great naptime viewing here for the kids. Even Kate admits, "A lot of howling in that one." Ha!

Kate says the episodes are comforting to the kids. Comforting is not exactly the word that comes to mind when I think of this show. I suppose since Mommy and Daddy are telling their story all over the country every weekend at various speaking engagements, or locked downstairs doing interviews, or on the phone about the show and everything else, this is all they have sometimes. And then something truly hysterical happens. Truly, truly hysterical. An episode is playing on TV, and in the episode Kate is yapping about something as the camera films the TV as the episode plays. And a child reaches up their hand and draws a giant "X" with their finger over Kate on the TV screen. What the hell?? Oh my God, who did this? And how outrageously hysterical! I swear to God this hand looks a lot bigger than the little kids'. Kinda like it might be Mady's hand, even though she's not home. But this could have been filmed out of order. I just about pee my pants. And wish so much I knew which child that was. But to whomever that was, I salute you!

Coming up, Kate dreads the time of day when Cara and Mady come home from school. We're back. Kate and some of the children greet Mady and Cara off the bus. They don't even look at Kate, I notice. Mady says school is great. Oh, good, I am so relieved to hear that. Because after Dutch Wonderland I really pitied that child between the hours of nine and three. Then Mady says, well, not that great. Oh, geez. We find out that the jump rope used to tie Collin's car to the wagon? It was Mady's. And she's quite pissed off that her jump rope was tied in about six knots and used in this manner. On the one hand, she should share her toys. On the other hand, WTF! It's her jump rope, her property, nobody asked her if they could use it, and, moreover, they misused it by tying it up a bunch of times and then not even bothering to put it away when they were done. It probably has wrinkles in it now from all the knots. And Mady had to untie the damn thing herself and it looked like it took a long time. So I'm on Mady's side for this one. Kate points out how perfect twin Cara said they could use her jump rope. Fine, then go use Cara's. And that's different, since Cara is offering, and her jump rope wasn't taken from her behind her back before she could even say how she felt about it. But that doesn't make Mady's disgruntlement any less important. At minimum, I think Kate should have at least said, we so appreciate that your rope was around since the little kids needed something to tie the cars together. Thank you, Mady. Instead she acts like, golly gee I don't get why Mady would be bent out of shape about this! Maybe, just maybe, if they asked Mady first, Mady might very well have said no problem. The issue here is it was swiped from her without so much as giving her a say, and then wasn't untied and put back when they were done, showing a total lack of respect for her property. What I don't understand was why Kate didn't just return Mady's jump rope to the garage when they were done and Mady would have never been the wiser. Mind you, the car and wagon scene was before lunch, before their naps, hours before the twins came home. I sometimes wonder if Kate subconsciously likes to get a rise out of Mady by doing things like this. And if so, that's really sad. Kate has finally found a new word for exhausted. She must have gotten a thesaurus. She's "ragged" now.

Poor Aaden isn't feeling very well. Kate starts cooking dinner and freaks out over something. Not sure. I think she's mad that one child was in her way. Okay. Mady is outside watching the children. Kate starts to say how helpful that is and what a good job she does, but then she just can't do it and has to throw in how very rough and bossy Mady is. Rough and bossy. The pot calling the kettle black might we say? Upstairs, one of the blackout blinds on the window is refusing to go up. This happens all the time with these kind of blinds, you have to sort of just gently fiddle with it and it will slide up. Kate tries to fix it by pulling on it so hard that the whole thing comes crashing down on her. Ha! I suspect she will blame Mady or possibly Joel for the blind falling down. By the way, I love blackout blinds. I love as much darkness as possible when I'm sleeping. I'm getting tired, this episode feels really long for just being one day.

Aww, poor Aaden threw up. Kate gives him a bucket and he is so unbelievably precious with his little glasses staring forward as he clutches the bucket. His expression is all, "Ehh, my tummy don't feel so good." Poor little guy. Kate gives him a sweet kiss on his head. He goes to lie down in a chair and Leah strokes his hair and comforts him so sweetly. Hannah comes over and Leah is all like, you should get away from him or he'll throw up on your hands. Leah is basically like, shut up, Hannah. At least someone's not afraid to tell it to her like it is. Daddy is finally home. Kate is already bitching that Jon is going to be mad she hasn't turned the air conditioning on. He always says, "Why isn't the air on?!" And Kate says, "Because I don't have time to do a scavenger hunt through the house!" Does she mean closing all the windows? Because I would hope she knows where her house's windows are and doesn't have to actually do a hunt for them. She reminds us so often how small this house is, it can't have too many hidden windows for her to be looking for. When we turned the air on, I remember my mom making me and my sibling "hunt" around the house and close all the windows. I think it took all of 30 seconds. These kids are almost old enough to be able to close the windows themselves, depending on how hard to move they are. Cara and Mady for sure can be instructed to close all the windows. Unlike the twins ignoring their mother when they get off the bus, the kids run to Daddy and are thrilled to see him. Jon asks, "Who ripped the blind?!" Kate, Jon. Kate! Blindgate! Kate won't fess up though. The episode ends with even Jon complaining how annoying Mady is. I guess she wanted to hand him the art projects the little kids made. Who cares who hands it to him as long as someone does? Yes, that is just so annoying! Not. Mady wants to be in control. "I don't know anyone like that," Kate says dryly. You would think it's nice she at least acknowledges her control freak nature. Except for some reason I think she's actually referring to Jon here! Funny. Every day, Kate says, "is painfully the same, yet vastly different." The hell? Every day is painful to her? Sorry, but what an ungrateful bitch. She just got to spend a nice day with the kids when most working mothers would kill to be able to stay home when their children are this age. They read, they did art projects, pulled each other around in a wagon, and had a nice long nap. And that was painful to her? The kids will be watching this episode too during naptime, I presume. And then randomly, Kate and Jon make a beeline for some gourmet jellybeans behind the interview couch. I could use some gourmet jellybeans myself, to wash away the bad taste in my mouth after this episode.

Spontaneity is a Luxury They Can't Afford

Some people may be under the impression that the cameras just tag along with the family as they go about their normal day, "hoping" to capture enough footage, and the right kind of footage, to be able to piece together a coherent episode.

That is simply not how episodes happen on this show anymore -- there is a theme and a vision which dictate every detail of the outing. It is not an outing for its own sake, but an outing for the specific purpose of getting specific footage. That the children manage to have any fun at all is because they are children who will naturally find fun where they can.

Take the most recent outing aired, the "Day With Thomas" event at Strasburg Railroad. This was just another job assignment to everyone involved. So many factors go into an outing for them -- factors that don't exist for "normal" family outings and factors that cramp their style tremendously. Spontaneity is a luxury they can't afford when the clock is ticking.

There is always the camera crew -- hired personnel on the clock while the Gosselins are on their outings. They have a schedule and an agenda that often supercedes the Gosselins's needs or desires. The outing can't start until the camera crew is ready. Once they arrive at their destination, the children must wait in the car until the crew is ready to start filming their arrival. Then more waiting, as the next scenes need to be prepped, set up, and shot. And then re-prepped, re-set-up, and re-shot when it didn't "go right" the first time for any number of reasons.

Then when the crew decides they need to stop shooting at one particular place and move on to the next, that's what happens. Not before, not after. Only when the crew is ready, regardless of whether the children have been ready for ages or would like to stay longer but can't. The family members are simply the principal characters to be moved around and encouraged to do/say things... or discouraged as the case may be.

The family is constantly receiving instructions from the crew, being navigated by them, being steered into and out of scenes by them, etc... hence we see impatient parents jerking them by the arm, hurrying them along, avoiding interference from bystanders, etc. Then the family has to wait while the camera crew clears out the next area for filming and gets ready to shoot the next "arrival" footage.

Oh, and don't forget Kate's narcissistic obsession with the children looking like perfect little dolls on display, so there is the constant harping on the children to keep clean, to avoid any activity with the potential for getting "messy" lest Kate hyperventilate or have to sequester herself away from it all, etc.

Is it any wonder why the children glean so much less "fun" from these outings than we would otherwise expect? Why they often seem inexplicably irritable and unduly frazzled? At this rate, they will be ready for permanent retirement from the working world before they are even into their teens.