The announcement of Jon and Kate Gosselin that they had decided to separate on the special one-hour “Jon and Kate Plus 8” was not only preceded by previews of an important announcement but also by the reporting of People magazine, which revealed that divorce papers had been filed in Bucks County, Pennsylvania for the two reality stars. Cable television’s most-watched show, “Jon and Kate Plus 8,” a reality show that follows the lives of the Gosselin family: the parents of a set of twins and a set of sextuplets, is in its fifth season and the drama of Jon and Kate’s love life has all but overshadowed the family feel of the show. Watchers tuning in to see Jon and Kate separate that did not know about the divorce papers were apprised at the show’s end when it was flashed momentarily on the screen.
But anyone who watches the show has seen Jon and Kate’s marriage deteriorating as the show progressed. Increased popularity of “Jon and Kate Plus 8” only seemed to drive a bigger emotional wedge between them. Tabloid exposure certainly did not help. Rumors of infidelity on both sides became rampant. Criticism of Jon and Kate and the way they handled their marriage — she was too bossy, he was too indifferent — became common fare.
And now they have decided to separate. Several reports stated that Jon was looking at an apartment at Trump Tower in New York.
But all through the one-hour “Jon and Kate Plus 8” episode Monday evening, the two — shown separately — maintained that the show would go on and that they would do whatever it took to make certain their children were happy. They were doing it “all for the kids.” They mentioned keeping “peace” with each other. And Kate Gosselin said that Jon wouldn’t talk to her. She said, “I have a lot of anger.”
But the reality of the “Jon and Kate Plus 8” reality show is that the reality of fame and fortune and the stresses that it brings, not to mention the opportunities of celebrity, became a burden their marriage could not bear. The show also offered Jon and Kate Gosselin a window into themselves and the way they interacted. And with the success of the show came money, which offered them a different kind of opportunity — a way out of a ten-year marriage.
But not once did anyone hear Jon or Kate Gosselin advance the idea that they might consider stopping the filming of “Jon and Kate Plus 8” in order to work on their marriage. Perhaps the couple believed it was too late for reconciliation. Perhaps they are too angry with each other. Perhaps they just couldn’t pass up the lure of more money and the enticement of being free of each other… with money and a hit television show.
Sadly, the reason for the show to begin with, the documenting of the family affairs of a couple successfully managing the raising of multiples, became just so much time filler. The story quickly became the soap opera of Jon and Kate, the Plus 8 relegated to a sub-storyline. The show has only been on the air two years (it debuted in 2007), despite this being its fifth season. They have become bit actors in Jon and Kate’s melodrama.
But the decision to separate and the decision to file divorce papers will no doubt drive the viewing audience to want more of the reality show soap opera that “Jon and Kate Plus 8” has become. The first episode of season five recorded 9.8 million viewers, a record for cable television. The separation and divorce papers being filed also allows for a myriad of new storylines — divorce proceedings, visitation rights, custody battles, dating and new partners, and more.
And then there are the children to consider…
“Jon and Kate Plus 8,” TLC Television