This used to be a funny show about this crazy family with 8 kids, a bossy mom, a bratty older sister and a fairly quiet dad who let his wife rule the roost. Now, it’s sad.
I have been a fan of this show since the first season. There were a couple hour long specials before they got their own series and I’ve seen all of those. I’ve seen every single episode of Jon and Kate and, up until the last month, enjoyed all of them. Now, it’s very sad to see a family fall apart.
When the show first started it really focused on a semi-normal family. Kate worked Saturdays as a nurse, sometimes pulling a 16 hour shift, and Jon worked in IT and was home in the evenings and on the weekends. As the show became successful, Kate was able to quit. Then Jon got a job working with his brother-in-law and was able to work from home so you got to see more of him. Then, Jon quit too and you saw Kate traveling and doing a lot more things.
The shows back in the early days focused on potty-training, family movie night, a picnic, etc. The last 3 episodes focused on the kids getting crooked houses, Jon getting a chopper from Orange County Choppers, and Kate getting a visit from Emeril Lagasse. There is no sign of the “normal” albeit large family we all adored. Now it seems focused on special guests and product placement.
Gone are the days when the cameras would follow the kids around learning how to ride a bike, Alexis trying to say alligator which sweetly turned into “aldergater”, Colin being stubborn to have a particular toy Joel had, Aaden getting fitted with glasses, Hannah helping fold the laundry or Kara helping Kate cook.
One thing I will say that the show has always done is, in my opinion, give a fairly realistic look at this family. It’s not scripted which means we get to see people’s not so pleasant side. Mady, one of the older twins, was affectionately called “Bratty Mady” in my house. This child craves attention and when you have 7 siblings it’s hard to come by. This often causes Mady to have a break down because she didn’t get to swim first or she didn’t get to tell them they were getting a dog or she didn’t get to sit in a particular spot at Crayola land. The show was honest in their portrayal of the kids acting not so nice and the following consequences. It has also been honest, since the beginning of the show, to show the parents and all their not so complimentary behaviour. There was one episode where Jon and Kate took the kids to Toys-R-Us to shop for Christmas and Kate yelled at Jon over several check out lines of people to “get over there”. Jon was very angry and confronted her in the parking lot letting Kate know she had embarrassed him. There was another episode in which Kate was badgering Jon while they were at a kids gym because she thought he was playing instead of helping her. Jon usually said very little when Kate talked to him like one of the children. He pretty much just rolled with the punches.
Kate mentioned in last night’s episode that she thinks the divorce would have happened regardless of if they had a show or not. I’m inclined to agree with her. With Kate’s books and touring Jon pretty much became a stay-at-home dad. This can be very demasculating for a guy. He went from being the sole bread-winner and supporting his very large family to a stay-at-home dad and not really by his own choosing. This, I would think, is very hard for any man. They would no longer be able to consider themselves the “head of the household” and instead have a very non-traditional role in the family. I think this was hard on him and he was never very comfortable with it. Add to that how Kate had a tendency to treat him like another child and I think Jon had enough. Not that Jon is entirely innocent in the breakdown of his marriage. He should have stood up to Kate years ago and said, “we’re in this as a team and we will do this together and I have equal say”. He didn’t and he let Kate do whatever she wanted and then all of a sudden he doesn’t like it anymore but Kate can’t just change after 10 years.
So now, this show that I have adored for several years seems to be imploding. Here’s what I miss:
* Alexis carrying her cute little “Aldergater” around with her all the time. You probably didn’t notice that she had it in last night’s episode as she was coming out of her crooked house.
* Little Leah being an instigator and causing trouble but looking like she’s too cute to have possibly done anything wrong.
* Colin being stubborn and collecting things like sticks and leaves. He is definitely a future engineer.
* Aaden making animal noises.
* Joel looking precious and sticking his lip out and crying/whining all the time but he’s too cute while doing it.
* Mady having a melt-down but desperately trying to be the adored older sister.
* Kate affectionately smacking Jon’s leg in the interview chair and Jon making that silly little growling noise back at her.
This precious family was fun to watch and grow with and that seems to have disappeared. Sad indeed.
As for the rumors and what you’ve read in the tabloids? Here’s my take on them:
*Kate’s brother and his red-headed wife have been hitting the shows doing interviews that Kate is some kind of monster. They used to be on the show quite often actually. Kate’s brother came over to help build shelves in the garage, the kids dressed up in those silly animals things at their house and Jon used to work for him in IT. I’ve heard and believe that TLC wanted to make them fairly permanent cast members and pay them and Kate said no. She wanted the focus to be on her family. I believe it and I think they’re mad and that’s why they’re attacking them now in the press.
* I truly truly do not think either Kate or Jon and cheated. What the show didn’t focus on is that this couple brings all their gaggle of kids to church every Sunday. In their old house, there were these pieces of paper tapped to the cabinet doors that had bible verses on them. They are a religious family and I would be very surprised if either of them actually committed adultery. Yes, Jon was partying and hanging out with young chicks and he shouldn’t have but that’s a pretty big jump to actually committing adultery.
* Kate is making the kids do the show and it’s ruining their childhood. Simply not true. Since the beginning of the show they said if any of their kids didn’t want to film on any given day, they didn’t have to. You will see entire episodes where Hannah or Kara won’t be seen at all. None of the kids are required to “perform” like a dancing bear.
I’ve probably rambled on long enough. It’s a sad situation for the children and for the parents. The demise of a marriage is usually sad. I think these two genuinely loved each other and they lost sight of that somewhere and ended up revolving their whole lives around their children and didn’t leave anything for each other. One day they woke up and it was gone. I personally, do hope the show goes on. It’s a sad reality that there are loads of children from broken homes. TLC has an opportunity to show how people can be friends, if not spouses, and still interact with their children in a realistic way. Enough with the complimentary trips skiing and Hawaii. We want to see more camping in the backyard and playing in the sprinkler.