March 31, 2009


I'll fess up, I'm a fan of the TLC show Jon & Kate Plus 8, and I even read Kate's book, Multiple Blessings. For those living in the dark ages, the show is about Jon and Kate Gosselin, a young couple raising twins and sextuplets (and I know all their names). I've got an insatiable appetite for certain types of reality tv, and over the past four seasons, have watched every episode of J&K+8 that I could get my hands on. I think it's kind of fascinating to watch 6 sibling of the same age interact, and I even began to enjoy the quirks of Kate's overbearing personality and extreme type-A parenting style.
But something has happened over the course of the latest forty episode (!) season, and J&K+8 now just seem, well, obnoxious (and apparently, I'm not the only one who thinks so). For starters, I've always been turned off by the extreme amount this family accumulates, consumes and wastes. You'll notice they always use paper plates and plastic cups. I had sort of ignored their huge carbon footprint and figured that watching Kate do dishes wouldn't have made for very exciting television. But their excessive materialism was highlighted in one of the latest episodes that was entirely about packing up their old house to move to a bigger one, and the sheer amount of stuff they had was pretty disgusting. And listening to an overly fake tanned Kate talk about her new found love for shopping was the final straw. I'm not really interested in seeing how the family prepares for their second appearance on Oprah (though I do heart Oprah), I was more intrigued when we got to peek into how they survived the day-to-day challenges of raising their family.

The book actually takes a look back at those good old days before all the sponsored trips and free merchandise took over the lives of the Gosselins, but also highlights one important aspect that is largely glossed over on the show: religion. Turns out J&K are mega-church members, and the frequency with which Kate references and credits God is a bit too much for me to stomach. It shouldn't be too much of a surprise that conservative religious beliefs were behind their decision against selective termination, but in a post Octo-Mom world, such a stance now appears to border on irresponsible.

I don't mean to get all judgy-wudgy, and I don't find the Gosselins nearly as disturbing as TLC's other famous large family, The Duggars (of the show 18 Kids and Counting). Actually, I think the uber-conservative beliefs of The Duggars-- who don't permit their teenagers to date, forbid music and dancing in their house, and are members of the bizarre Quiverfull movement-- are backwards and dangerous, and should not be propagated through a mainstream television series.

It just seems that J&K+8 has lost it's charm, and now remains a point of interest only as a record of some sort of social experiment demonstrating the effects of instant celebrity status on otherwise normal folks. All the conservative religious and materialistic muck that's become so central to the show distracts from the cute things the little kids say, and isn't that why we all tuned in in the first place?

1 comment:

Michelle Wood said...

I am so with you on this. I have always cringed at the paper-plate thing, too.

I'm curious as to the specifics of their faith, because many Evangelical Christians do NOT believe in evolution. They believe in creationism, and that we really don't have to worry about taking care of our planet because the big JC is going to come any day (and send us to heaven! or.... hell...)I actually wrote about this a while back...

I feel that Jon and Kate are doing the best they know how, but they need to cut back on the 'things'. Then again, I guess we all do.