Back in February I wrote that "Jon and Kate Plus 8" was one of three reality TV shows that I watched "without any guilt or misgivings."
Describing the show, I continued:
In the beginning, it was fascinating to see John and Kate struggle to keep it together with two 5-year-olds and six 2-year-olds. I watched them bicker and thought, "My God, these two people hate each other." But over time I realized that, given the circumstances, this husband and wife team actually got along remarkably well, because, and this is the point, having six children at once will break your spirit.
Well, it turns out that they did hate each other, or rather, the conflict that would later destroy their marriage had already taken root. I guess I was just projecting onto them my feeling that having six kids at once would break my spirit, which it surely would.
I don't know if this relationship was doomed from the start. It seems to me that what precipitated the breakup more than anything was that Jon feels incredibly humiliated and thinks he's become defined irrevocably in the minds of millions of Americans as a henpecked wimp and lackey, and he hates Kate for it. I'm not sure it was quite that bad, though. The spectacle of Michael Jackson's death shows that Americans, and consumers of mass entertainment everywhere, are willing to gloss over the less attractive aspects of celebrities' personal histories. And the 20-somethings who apparently are willing to sleep with him are evidence that not everyone thinks he's a loser.
Anyway, the crazy thing about "Jon and Kate" is how in a few short months it went from there being a couple tabloid stories suggesting there were problems in their marriage to a full-blown pop-culture train wreck and divorce.
Meanwhile, TLC is cornering the market on shows about couples with lots and lots of children. They've also got "18 Kids and Counting," about a Christian family that can't stop pumping out the kids, and "Table for 12," a show about a couple with multiples where the parents don't want to claw each other's eyes out.