Kate Minus Jon Plus 8 Plus Hate
TLC announced today that “Jon & Kate Plus 8,” the cable channel’s hit reality show and tabloid magnet, will evolve into “Kate Plus 8″ starting Nov. 2. Due to the separation and pending divorce between Jon and Kate Gosselin, and the escalating rancor between the split parents of multiples, the show is retooling by simply not including Jon Gosselin in the proceedings.
Of course, the writing has been on the wall for several weeks: recent episodes of the series, which has taken a sharp nosedive in the ratings since the split was announced, have been all about Kate anyway, and Jon’s recent interview with Chris Cuomo on “Prime Time Live,” in which he said he “despised” Kate, looked like it pretty much sealed his departure. The man is a disaster — I don’t care how much of a banshee Kate might be, you don’t say that about your children’s mother on national television and the ever-preserving Internet.
As I’ve written before, I watched “Jon & Kate Plus 8″ starting about 2 1/2 years ago — long before the tabloids, long before Jon’s Ed Hardy shirts and pierced ears, long before Kate’s badger hair — because my wife loved watching how people dealt with six toddlers just slightly older than our own son, and I basically thought it was the scariest thing I’d seen since I shut off all the lights in the house at 13 and watched “The Shining” by myself.
But they seemed like real people back then.
To borrow and paraphrase from Bill Cosby, what happened is that reality television is like cocaine — it magnified Jon and Kate’s personalities. A responsible production company would have halted the series once it became clear that tension was resulting from living in a terrarium, but there really is no such thing.
I will no longer watch “Jon & Kate Plus 8,” but it’s not purely out of disgust with the Gosselins. The last few episodes I’ve seen mostly centered on Kate coming up with fun and exciting situations, like an overly complicated movie night in the backyard and a visit to a dude ranch. Mostly, the tone of these episodes, centered on a single mother going forward and putting the past behind her, has been to shore up Kate’s image. I want to see something real about parenting, and since Kate is now in the business of reality television, there is no reality involved anymore — everything is engineered and cultivated for public relations and viewership, which is dwindling rapidly: only 1.7 million viewers tuned in for the Sept. 21 episode.
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