I could hardly belive my eyes when I scrolled down to the OPED section of the NYtimes and found this OPED
May 30, 2009
Jon & Kate Begin to Grate
By GAIL COLLINS
Back before the turn of the millennium, my husband and I wrote a book that contained a lot of lists of the best and worst of the last thousand years. Our friend Alfred Gingold contributed “Ten Worst Ideas of the Millennium,” which included flagellants, foot binding, wine in a box, trench warfare and French mime.
I was thinking about that list the other day when I was reading about the crisis on the set of “Jon & Kate Plus Eight.” This is, of course, the reality series about the Gosselins, who used fertility treatments to conceive twins, and then sextuplets. After four televised years of birthday parties and projectile vomiting during flu season, Jon & Kate’s marriage appears to have hit the rocks of tabloid hell.
And in the process, although we are only nine years into the 21st century, I believe we have already discovered two of the new millennium’s 10 worst ideas:
Fertility treatments that produce enough babies to field an entire team for any sport except tennis.
Reality shows about the day-to-day lives of any family that is not headed by an aging rock star.
“One day my kids are gonna Google me,” moaned Jon, who was caught frolicking with a 23-year-old teacher while Kate was off on a book tour. After weeks of headlines in supermarket magazines, the Gosselins were back on TV this week for the opening of Season Five (Theme: Sextuplets Turn 5, Jon and Kate Aren’t Speaking). It drew a stratospheric cable audience of 9.8 million viewers — approximately five times the ratings for “Mad Men.”
This is a tradition that stretches back to 1971, when Bill and Pat Loud agreed to let PBS film 300 hours in the life of their “fun family.” By the time the cameras left, the Louds were en route to the cover of Newsweek and Pat had filed for divorce. But Americans have no sense of history and now people are practically begging to be turned into a TV series. A number of the current ones involve very large families — one terrifyingly named “18 Kids and Counting.”
Once science made it so much easier for people to have six, seven, eight babies at a time, it seems right that the world would come up with some occupation that would allow the parents to make a living without leaving the nursery. The Gosselins were reportedly paid at least $50,000 an episode, and the family has moved into a $1.1 million house on 24 acres in Pennsylvania.
I can’t help suspecting that the audience for “Jon & Kate” was initially drawn to the show by the same fascination that compels cable TV to keep producing documentaries about people who weigh 800 pounds. Wow, how does that work out, practically speaking? But reality shows, like any kind of institutionalized gossip, also offer the occasional useful life lessons.
One of the most important is that people who embrace 21st-century public life, whether it is lived on Twitter or TLC, aren’t allowed to complain about the downside. (“I did not sign up for public scrutiny of everything and neither did Kate,” Jon told the TV cameras grumpily and inaccurately.)
Recently, as the marriage continued to fray, Kate’s brother and sister-in-law appeared on CBS’s “The Early Show” to denounce the Gosselins and call for a law against children on reality shows. The kids actually seem well cared for and happy, although you can already imagine how the sextuplets will be tortured in the future by reruns of the potty-training episode. The relatives mainly seemed distressed by a family feud and compelled to work out their angst by going on national TV to denounce people going on national TV.
My favorite angle is the feminist one. When the world first met the Gosselins, Kate was a more-than-full-time-mother and Jon was going off to work every day as an “I.T. analyst.” (This is a position which is actually a very common occupation for men on reality series. Women tend more toward “Pilates instructor.”)
Then Jon, who appears laid back to the point of being comatose, lost his job. Kate, who was a tad obsessive in the house (she once berated her husband for breathing too loud), produced several best-selling books and made so many promotional tours that her husband found himself in the role of the major caregiver.
By the time they started their current season, Jon’s life crisis was a mirror image of the feminine “problem that has no name” that Betty Friedan wrote about in 1963. He complained that he loved his kids but felt trapped. (“It’s not what I chose, you know. It was kind of chosen for me.”) Kate couldn’t understand why he seemed to resent his “duties” when she was out working to support the family. And anyway, he had lots of household help.
There’s much to mull. But at minimum, when a listmaker of the future starts compiling the Ten Worst Multiple-Birth-Reality-Show-Meltdowns-of-the-Millennium, the Gosselins will have found a place in history.
I think I threw up a little in my mouth!
I admit, I did watch the show back when it was cute. Back when I admired this couple (yes, I know they did inflict this on themselves but I never had to struggle to get pregnant so I can't judge). Back when they looked like this:
I grew a little tired of the show early because I couldn't stand Kate. She treated her hubby like a child and I couldn't bare it anymore. Show over!
I knew it was only a matter of time before trouble would surface. You could see it on his face, the disconntent whenever she talk to him. Almost as if the very site of her made him want to throw up a little in his mouth!
Kate is a full blown celebrity now!
What a transformation!
This once anal Mom who once went through her house with a white glove to check for dirt after a maid had just cleaned, is hopping all over the US promoting her book.
And speaking to large crowds about the difficultys in raising multiples.
Life is a tad easier though since TLC came into their lives. They use to live in this:
But now they live here:
And then the rumors of Jon having an affair surfaced
And Kate aired their dirty laundry (for a price I'm sure).
Money makes you do crazy things.
And they will make more because people love dirt. Hence, some 5 million viewers tuned in to watch the season premire.
I think I just threw up a little in my mouth!