Archive for Friday, June 26, 2009

For some Jon & Kate fans, the show must not go on

June 26, 2009


The Gosselin family poses at a party to celebrate the sextuplets’ 5th birthday in this photo released by TLC. Mom Kate is at left and dad Jon on the far right. Some fans of “Jon & Kate Plus 8” say with the couple divorcing, it’s time to end the show.

The Gosselin family poses at a party to celebrate the sextuplets’ 5th birthday in this photo released by TLC. Mom Kate is at left and dad Jon on the far right. Some fans of “Jon & Kate Plus 8” say with the couple divorcing, it’s time to end the show.

— “The show must go on,” Kate Gosselin of “Jon & Kate Plus 8” said on the episode where her split from her husband, Jon, was revealed. Usually, that line elicits admiration, as when an actor sprains his ankle but perseveres in the dance number anyway.

This time, maybe not so much. TLC’s hugely popular reality show is going on hiatus, to return as something more like “Jon OR Kate Plus 8,” with the parents alternating time with their telegenic brood. And amid the obvious interest, some fans are wondering whether the “8” should even be on television anymore.

No matter that the divorce proceedings should make for deeply compelling reality TV — conflict being, of course, the raison d’etre of the genre. Think of the kids, these fans are saying.

“I absolutely do not think they should continue the show,” said Karyn Speakman, a confirmed “Jon & Kate Plus 8” devotee. The 27-year-old mother from Yuba City, Calif., sits down each week with her husband, waiting to see the latest about the TV family she’s admired for two years. Then she calls her sister and friend to dissect it.

But she’s willing to give all that up. “No child should have to go through this in the public eye,” said Speakman. “On the one hand, you could say that divorce is a big part of society, and maybe someone can learn from this. But I think we can learn enough from the people around us. I mean, look at the divorce rate.”

But look, too, at the stunning ratings for the show — a sure sign it is not only coming back, but has the legs to last for years. Monday’s episode, where the couple revealed their impending split, drew a whopping 10.6 million viewers — major broadcast network numbers — to TLC, a cable network. That’s close to the 11.9 million viewership for HBO’s famous “Sopranos” finale two years ago.

For another sense of the show’s popularity, one need only look to the company that makes Crooked Houses, the playhouses featured this week.

The owners in Maine have said their Web site received 170,000 hits within five minutes of being mentioned, and that their system crashed three times.

For now, “Jon & Kate Plus 8” is on a brief hiatus until Aug. 3 so the family can “regroup,” the network has announced. When it comes back, according to Jon Gosselin, it will be in a modern arrangement whereby the kids stay put at the couple’s sprawling Pennsylvania home and the parents come and go.

Logistics aside, the network would seem to be in an enviable but tricky situation. Producers surely don’t want to be seen as exploiting or going against the interests of the angelic sextuplets, age 5, and the twins, age 8.

Yet conflict is the lifeblood of reality TV, or indeed fictional TV — why else would “Grey’s Anatomy,” for example, have had to invent all those frustrating roadblocks to happiness for Meredith and Derek?

“I would only assume that producers would be happy to have a dramatic show,” said Diane Debrovner, health and psychology editor for Parents magazine, “and that they would be interested in filling the show with some conflict. I’d be concerned that these children might be ’used’ a little more — that they’d be caught in the middle of a televised drama when they themselves are struggling to process what’s happening to their family.”

For any family going through divorce — on or off TV — “the most important thing that helps children is having their parents be adults, and shielding them from conflict,” Debrovner said. “Yet it’s clear from the history of the show that these parents have been torn by conflicting priorities — wanting to protect their kids, but also obviously interested in publicity and fame.”

Producers will have to do their own balancing in the editing process, showing enough conflict to interest viewers but not enough to madden or alienate them.

A spokeswoman for the show, Laurie Goldberg, declined to comment on the kids’ situation, referring to a network statement that it “continues to support the Gosselin family and will work closely with them to determine the best way to continue to tell their story as they navigate through this difficult time.”


Sharon Aikins 8 years, 12 months ago

I like the show but I think it's time to pull the plug on it. It's caused enough damage for that show now. I have to wonder if all this would have happened had they not done it in the first place. While it has provided the means to bestow upon their children some wonderful adventures and undoubtedly the funds to purchase this big, new house, let the kids be now. They are older, past the cute baby stage. Maybe once or twice a year to bring everyone up to date on them as they grow but not every week of exploiting them and their family.

Emily Campbell 8 years, 12 months ago

I get so frustrated when all I read is they should pull the show. No one was saying this when it was lollipops and rainbows. The show is the parents job for right now… no ifs, ands, or buts about it. I have been watching Jon and Kate plus 8 since the very first episodes (before it was Jon and Kate plus 8) and I don't think they should stop unless they want to. It's no one else’s life, but theirs. The ratings keep going up, so someone's watching. Life happens. I do not think being on TV is detrimental to the children… they've never known anything else, and why should that be a sad thing? They’ve lived more privileged lives than most. How about the annoying show NYC Prep? The image they portray are drug fueled sex addicts. The worse Jon and Kate’s kids have going for them is they get to spend quality time with each parents separately and sometimes together… isn’t that how it is in some families with a parent who travels for work (wait what does Kate do?) Their kids are receiving more love and attention from their parents than a lot of kids in this world. Leave them alone, and let them do what’s been working for their family and now try and get over this bump in the road. Being off of the show isn’t going to help… and that’s all the kids have known!

Emily Campbell 8 years, 12 months ago

It was suppose to be a smiley face after addicts just FYI

agriffin 8 years, 12 months ago

the choice to pull the show belongs with the family. my little sister loves this show, and this divorce is making her very sad, but it would be much worse (for her) if they dont show some resolution at the end. i hope the family atleast finishes this season with a happy ending before pulling the show, if they are going to.

GardenMomma 8 years, 12 months ago

I am not a fan of the show. I don't like Kate and the way she talks to Jon. But when I heard there was going to be a "big announcement" I figured it was that they were getting a divorce. I think a better announcement would have been (and I was secretly hoping for this one) that they were going to stop doing the show and work on their marriage in private.

Jon strikes me as someone who wishes for normalcy and Kate strikes me as someone who loves the spotlight.

mcdeemike 8 years, 11 months ago

The children will grow up to blame the show's producers for splitting up their family

KansasPerson 8 years, 11 months ago

ylime3499 (Anonymous) says…

"I do not think being on TV is detrimental to the children… they've never known anything else, and why should that be a sad thing?"

Ever seen the movie "The Truman Show"??

Or, if you prefer non-fiction, here's a historical reminder of what happens when children are exploited:

BMI 8 years, 11 months ago

Pull the plug on the show, but continue what they normally do for a few months in the home, so the kids don't have so many changes in their lives all at once. Having dad gone, plus all the crew and daily routine suddenly drop out of sight would be very harmful indeed. I think they could fake it for a while just to soften the blow. Wean them off with less and less time of the crew being around until they just don't show up anymore.Give the kids warning, X more times, then a good bye party so they don't feel abandoned.

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