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Jon’s Right, TLC Needs to Subtract “Jon & Kate Plus 8.”

October 3, 2009 10 comments

I can’t believe I wrote a blog about Jon & Kate Plus 8.

Since the introduction of “Reality Shows (circa 1992, with the first instalment of ‘Survivor’),” the definition of “Reality” has nearly been re-written.  At some point, the worldwide viewing audience bought into this new theory that reality no longer meant “things that actually happen”; but instead that it meant shows replacing professional actors with amateurs, dropping them in a forest, house, or some form of abnormal living quarters, making them play stupid games with each other, vote each other out of that place, and networks hoping their cast created enough drama within themselves to captivate an audience for an entire season.  A few good video editors make a difference too.

Eventually, reality shows began to surface that were about real people andGosselin family their real life situations.  Obviously it did help that some of these situations were unique (see: “The Man Whose Arms Exploded”, “World’s Strongest Boy”, etc).  One show that most of us are familiar with now is “Jon & Kate Plus 8.” 

You don’t even have to have watched the show at this point; if you have a TV, the internet (you’re reading this, you have it), eyes and a brain that are capable of interpreting words and images on a magazine cover, or even just functional ears, you’ve caught wind of this show somewhere along the line.  Personally, I blame my wife for my introduction. 

mad kateBesides the fact that the couple bore 8 children, it’s just a show of them getting through their day.  Unfortunately, that’s not why you’ve heard of it.  “Jon & Kate Plus 8” became TLC’s highest rated show upon infidelity allegations, and the aftermath that has entailed.  For whatever reason, people have dug their claws into who cheated on who, who’s right and wrong, who the victim is, who the worse parent is, and generally every available factoid of a 10 year marriage that was dissolved in 4 seasons (despite a vow renewal episode).

From a business standpoint, I’m sure TLC couldn’t be happier.  Ratings = Advertisers = Merchandising = S’s with vertical lines through them.  The Gosselin’s got an outlandishly big home and property, and a probably a life’s financial setup to match.  But isn’t there some clause or fine print in that production contract that is concerned with the PLUS 8 faction of the equation?  Wouldn’t most people normally be put in jail for photographing and videotaping children the way and amount the Gosselin kids are? While these kids didn’t need to see their parents’ marriage collapse in the first place, can someone from that network not make the decision that those kids don’t need the whole world knowing about it, and asking them about it for the rest of their (already young) lives?  Divorce is hard enough on all members of a family without a televised audience.  Should morality not win out over ratings and dollars at some point?

Whether you like him or you hate him, Jon Gosselin said the most intelligentjon_gosselin thing anyone in that camp has said throughout the whole controversy.  The show needs to stop.  Whether you think it was because he was being cut from the title of the show, because of his diminished role in the filming, he wasn’t happy with compensation, or whatever you feel his motivation was; finally someone said what needed to be said.  This show is no longer beneficial or healthy for that family, and it needs to be removed from the air, at least for the good of the kids that both parents claim to be wholly devoted to.  This family’s issues need to be dealt with outside of the limelight, and behind closed doors; and with any luck they won’t turn out as the next Maculay Culkin’s or Dustin Diamond’s of the world. 

The problem with real life reality shows is that the people being filmed have to continue on with their lives after the camera stops rolling.  There’s no characters, scripts, re-shoots, or escape of any kind.  If two adults have chosen to subject their existences to this level of scrutiny, then so be it; but something is wrong when a child still gaining his or her own autonomy, let alone 8 of them, has to participate just because he was born into a family that just so happens to be newsworthy.  A court of law rarely will take a child’s testimony because they can be so easily influenced by others; I am sceptical of the claims by both the network and parents that the kids want the show to go on, or even if they know that they have a choice in the matter.

We are not without guilt either; I mean, someone is buying those tabloids, spiking those ratings, and fuelling a need for more.  There’s about 5 other shows on TV I know I’d rather watch; good, old-fashioned fictional situational comedies with paid professional actors and well written scripts.  Something tells me that if the Gosselin’s had the chance to shut the world out for one night, sit down as a family and watch an episode of “The Office” together instead of themselves, things might be a little different.  Okay, the kids wouldn’t get the humor, but you get the picture.  Bring back fake TV, these reality shows have run their course!

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