Jon & Kate, Ep 1: You Call This Togetherness?

OK, guys, I feel that we’ve gone through a whole “Idol” season together, and I can trust you. I have a confession to make. Ready? (Deep breath.) Here goes … I’ve never been an avid watcher of “Jon and Kate Plus Eight!” Hello? Anyone still there? Hello? It has always been one of those shows […]

Last Updated: June 1, 2009 @ 7:24 AM

OK, guys, I feel that we’ve gone through a whole “Idol” season together, and I can trust you. I have a confession to make. Ready? (Deep breath.) Here goes … I’ve never been an avid watcher of “Jon and Kate Plus Eight!”

Hello? Anyone still there? Hello?

It has always been one of those shows I had on for background noise while I was doing other things. Occasionally, I’d glance up from my busywork (cutting and pasting “vision boards” or downloading tunes for a never-to-be-used “workout mix”) and chuckle to myself at Jon’s expressions. Usually these were of the “please help me” variety, often in reaction to Kate berating him on national television yet again.

Then came US Weekly’s obsession with the couple. It must have been a slow month in the world of Hollywood hookups and scandal because the Gosselins have been on the cover of the past — count ‘em — four issues of the magazine, not to mention appearances on the covers of People and Star. The only thing left to make them truly relevant in the world of entertainment is a Newsweek cover.

 

The tabloid tales of Jon’s alleged affair (must’ve been the free hair plugs!) and Kate’s iciness towards him and the kids have amped up interest in the show for me and others like me, making it, for the first time ever, “must-see TV.”

So it was with great anticipation that I tuned in to last night’s season premiere. (I have not had such an unhealthy appetite for a TLC show since my college roommate, Andrea, and I would blow off class to watch “The Wedding Story!”) 

 

I have to say, it was compelling, ya’ll!

The 73-minute episode opened with Jon and Kate giving their routine “couch confessionals.” This time, though, they were done separately. (Dum Dum Duuuum!) An emotional Kate (great actress?) closed the introduction by saying, “Very swiftly we turned into two different people and it’s just … hard.” (Cue single tear.)  It must be mentioned that during the separate interviews, Jon sat on his usual side of the couch, while Kate sat in the middle (“center stage,” so to speak).

Although in hindsight it should’ve been expected, I was not prepared for the footage of the family being barraged by paparrazi.  (This is what your idle gossip habit supports! Tsk! Tsk!) This “shocking” footage led into Jon and Kate discussing how the media storm has affected their privacy and security. 

Interesting. Their “privacy” and “security” did not seem to be huge concerns when they paraded their eight children for all the world to see. Yes, I understand that they want to provide for them and secure their futures financially. But there must be a better way than making your toddlers the stars of a reality show.

Interesting, too, was the fact that during the couch confessionals, Kate was still berating Jon — even though he wasn’t actually sitting next to her. (Perhaps her parents had been reading Shakespeare when they named her?) The episode wasn’t even three minutes in before Kate said, “Jon made some mistakes and he was out and whatever … so that makes people question him.”

 

She then angrily added, “I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing.” To her credit, though, Kate admitted to being hard on Jon over the years and even expressed regret over it.

The “B story” of the episode was a birthday party for the 5-year-old sextuplets (Alexis, Leah, Hannah, Joel, Collin and Aaden), who are the reason for their free trips and schwag and, incidentally, the reason for the show itself. Sadly, it is these adorable (especially the bespectacled Aaden!) children who are the victims in all of this.

Too young to understand what is going on or why, it must be terrifying to be en route to Party City, of all places, and all of a sudden hear their mother warn them, “Really quickly because the paparazzi is coming after us!” As the van door opened, one kid asked what paparazzi was, only to be shushed by Kate and told never to say the word. They probably think paparazzi live under their beds with the Boogeyman.

As the episode progressed, Kate planned the party alone while simultaneously bemoaning the fact that she was … planning the party alone. She did, however, put together a pretty cool party for 5-year-olds.  (Note to self: Check on moon bounce prices for your 33rd.)

Jon showed up in his new car (that’s right, the one his alleged mistress drove home from the bar) and sporting an Indiana University T-shirt (I always knew I like him better. Go, Hoosiers!). The only thing colder than the dreary Pennsylvania weather that day was the figurative tundra between the couple. Awwwwwwkward!  When Kate said, “I just can’t take the coldness,” it was hard to decipher whether she was referring to her husband or the weather.

Throughout the party, Jon and Kate continued to ignore each other (except for when Kate ordered him to take off his sunglasses for a family snapshot). The kids, seemingly oblivious to the tension, partied on with their classmates, accosting a magician’s bunny before moving on to a series of pinatas.

To keep us watching (as if w’d change the channel!), the producers brought in Jon and Kate for a joint couch confessional. It was a little anticlimactic but very uncomfortable, with both of them repeatedly using the phrase “for the kids” and neither glancing in the other’s direction. 

We then went back to separate interviews, with an emotional Kate citing the divorce statistics of parents of multiples. She also mentioned that she’s tried for six months to “remedy” the problem. I might not know what the remedy is but I’m pretty sure that the anti-remedy to marital issues is criticizing your husband in a national magazine such as People.

This show is fascinating on a whole new level this season. Sure, it was somewhat interesting before due to the overabundance of children, but it’s just one of the TLC programs with that central premise. (In fact, I affectionately refer to TLC as the Midgets & Multiples Network.)

 

With their fragile marriage, the Gosselins take the “WTF?” award right out from under the sheltered Duggars’ denim-skirted noses!

But I have to ask: Was it the spotlight that tore this family apart? Or would it have imploded on its own?