Anyone who knows me knows I've been a huge supporter of the TLC reality television show Jon & Kate Plus 8 for the past few years. Like many other reality shows about big families, it's the premise that makes it intriguing: How does a young, normal American couple go about raising one set of twins and a set of sextuplets? But it's the specific people on this show, Jon and Kate to be exact, that have made it such a big hit.
As soon as I started watching the show, I immediately liked the young married couple on my screen. They were funny, quirky, and friendly. They were honest and candid about the difficulties of raising eight young children and were open with the fact that they, like all of us watching, are not perfect. But perhaps what was most endearing about the Gosselins, was their normalcy. They seemed like someone who could live next door to me, go to my church, or meet at a kids' play group. I always had the feeling watching the show that if I ever met Kate and could just talk to her one-on-one, we would be friends.
That being said, I've been as disturbed and saddened as anyone else with all the publicity surrounding the show the past few months. There's no need to recap it all here, suffice to say rumors of unfaithfulness have abounded- and been denied- on both sides of the marriage. The latest debate surrounding the show is whether TLC has violated child labor laws in the state of Pennsylvania. All of the gossip is mostly just what it seems- gossip. But there is undeniably some truth in Jon and Kate having marriage problems. This was confirmed from their own mouths on their season premiere Monday, May 25.
Jon & Kate Plus 8's season five premiere was one of the saddest shows I have ever watched. Towards the end of the episode, the producer interviewed the Gosslines sitting on the couch together, as they often did as of two seasons ago, and asked them questions about how their marriage was going and what was going to happen in the future. They were both very vague, Kate in an angry way and Jon much more apathetically. They even went so far as to bring up the actual topic of a possible impending divorce and the ramifications of such a move. But it was heartbreaking to see two people who were so obviously once in love and unified in raising their family sitting next to one another and talking about their marriage as if they hardly knew each other. It was like... well, something you would see on TV, or in a movie; except this isn't just TV, these are real people, real lives... a real family.
After watching the premiere, I couldn't stop thinking about the show, and the family behind it. Sadly, it took almost a whole day before it occurred to me to pray for the very real people behind all the tabloid headlines and gossip columns. And my heart ached for Gosselin family as I did.
I don't think there's any use in pointing fingers and casting blame. Everyone who has watched the show could make a list of where Jon and Kate has each gone wrong, and they could each make their own lists that would be even longer.
I do know that it's been apparent that the couple who just last season renewed their vows, publicly proclaiming to the millions who watch their show- and more importantly, their children- that they would always be together, has been growing apart the past year or more. By Jon and Kate's own admission, the increased popularity of their show, the release of two books (so far), the frequent filming, speaking engagements, and interviews has caused their lives to speed up to a frantic pace. It's been sad to watch the slow, but steady, decline.
As much as I love the show, and the Gosselin family, I can't promise that I will continue to watch if the couple continues on their current path. I will continue to love Jon, Kate, Cara, Mady, Alexis, Collin, Hannah, Joel, Aiden, and Leah and will support them with my prayers. And I will not spread vicious gossip and rumors about them that only assist in tearing down a family that is just as real and fragile as my own. But I will not watch a show about a marriage falling apart as my own personal entertainment.
I don't feel I have a place to advise the Gosselins. After all, I don't have a television show, a published book, or even sextuplets or twins. I can't say what I would do if I were in their position, because I'm not. It's easy to say from the outside in what the answer is, much more difficult when you're in the middle of the storm. I can only say, from my limited and humble perspective, that I hope with all my heart that Jon and Kate would end the show before they would even consider ending their marriage. I do know that no television show, no book, no speaking engagement, and no amount of money is worth the price of a marriage.