Sacred Cods and Holy Mackerals

Last call for Jon and Kate?
May 26, 2009, 7:56 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

I couldn’t let the week begin without some thoughts on the dominant conflict on everyone’s mind.

No not Deval vs. the Legislature or Barack vs. Cheney. I’m of course talking about Kate vs. Jon, the fightin’ Gosselins.

Not since the Britney Spears/Kevin Federline split has the nation been able to watch such an amazing slow-motion trainwreck from the comfort of their living room, or favorite celebrity gossip website.

Last night’s opener for Season 5 of Jon & Kate Plus 8 might have been the most riveting hour of television in recent memory. It opened and closed with interviews of the two of them separately all but saying Kate’s nagging had turned Jon into a manwhore. Jon could barely contain his comtempt for his shrew-y wife. And Kate reveled in being able to play the wounded spouse just hoping her kids stay happy and healthy.

In between the interviews was some footage about a birthday party for the kids or something like that. But really the party was just filler buffering Jon and Kate’s interview segments, which ranged from passive aggressve to openly hostile.  The pay-off was a  2-minute interview of them together, where the space separating them on the couch was cavernous. When given the opportunity to say they were trying to work things out, that they still loved each other, they both quickly said they were “here for the kids.”

The question I have is, at some point does TLC have a moral responsibility to turn off the cameras, leave the house, and tell them they need to work things out off-camera? Obviously this would require a television network to sacrifice a cash cow that likely just earned the biggest Neilson rating for a cable show of all time. But it is clear that tabloid scandal and the likely dissolution of their marriage isn’t enough to convince Jon and Kate (likely more Kate than Jon) on their own that this isn’t healthy, that they are now taking advantage of their kids through their status as sextuplets, and they really need to step out of the spotlight for a while.

 Let’s put it this way — when the viewers of a show about kids want the producers to spend less time covering the kids’ cute little event of the week so that they can see more footage of their dysfunctional parents — that’s not neccesarily a good thing. 

The kids already know something is going on. [In the most heart-wrenching moment of the night, one of the cherubic daughters, on the celebration of her 5th birthday, said as matter-of-factly as only a still-naive kid can “Daddy I wish you didn’t have to leave so much.”] Jon even admitted that the oldest twins are going to start googling soon and then all the secrets are going to be revealed. I don’t know if its wise for the cameras to be rolling when they find the pictures of daddy drunk with a 21-year-old woman, or Mommy saying she thinks divorce is a possibility.

As a matter of public policy, bartenders are required to cut off drunks. Should TLC, at some point, be required at some point to turn off the lights when the grown-ups on a show clearly don’t when to say when? Or is the temptation of a public trainwreck too great to overcome?

3 Comments so far
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The only reason bartenders are required to shut off drunks is because they’re a physical danger to themselves or to others. Unless Jon and/or Kate barrels the Gosselin family van toward a pack of paparazzi, I think they have to sleep in the bed they’ve made.

Comment by Peggy

I’d make the argument that Jon & Kate continuing to appear on cameras as this plays out could be emotionally and psychologically harmful to their children. Divorce is always tough on kids. Now imagine having it played out on national television.

Comment by South Shore Pragmatist

I think the emotional and psychological harm started long before that 23-year-old teacher walked into a bar with Jon. These kids have grown up in a home outfitted with camera lighting in a state that has very lax child labor/entertainer laws. I view it more as the parent who’s nasty to their kid in line at the grocery store– it’s not outright abusive behavior, but it sure as hell makes you uncomfortable.

Comment by Peggy

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