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Wednesday, September 17, 2014
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Published: Wednesday, 5/20/2009

'Jon & Kate Plus 8': A mistake

Welcome to the new Blade blog Culture Shock, a three-times-a-week riff by Pop Culture Editor Kirk Baird on pop culture news, events, and trends. The blog will appear Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings here, with the odd night or off-day posting if something is merited.

It s been pretty quiet on the pop culture front lately. That is, unless you have a half-hour reality show based on your life with eight children.

Jon & Kate Plus 8 is a popular cable program well, popular for TLC that chronicles the life of husband-and-wife Jon and Kate Gosselin, and their eight kids. (What is it with the drama surrounding parents with eight children anyway?)

I ve watched Jon & Kate Plus 8 a few times. The show was interesting during my initial viewing. After that, I began to pick it apart. For example, how could this couple afford a trip to Disney World with eight kids in tow as they did in a previous episode? Simple: TLC picked up the tab.

That s standard practice with reality shows. The networks want good ratings, and the producers know a key component to attracting viewers is to get the reality show participants into unusual settings to amp up the drama, and to keep the show from becoming stagnant. That s why reality show stars are treated to makeovers, shopping trips, vacations, etc. It makes for better TV. It also happens to be a nice perk to being on the show.

Turns out, Jon and Kate could have paid for their own family trip to Disney World.

For allowing the cameras to follow them around, they collect thousands per episode; I ve read anywhere from $40,000-$65,000 a show. For that kind of money, I bet most people would agree to be in their own reality show. As it is, most people wouldn t find themselves in the marital mess Jon and Kate are rumored to be in, either.

Jon may be having an affair with a young schoolteacher. Kate may be cheating on Jon with her bodyguard. Film at 11. At this point, the accusations of adultery are more fodder for the tabloids than news for traditional media outlets. (No offense, Today Show.)

But Jon and Kate appear committed to working through their troubles. At least, that s what they re saying in public. It also seems increasingly apparent that what they re really committed to is keeping their TV show.

The fifth season of Jon & Kate Plus 8 premiers Monday night at 9 with an hourlong episode on TLC. The show should draw big ratings. And if the drama continues the rest of the season, the viewership for the remaining episodes of Jon & Kate Plus 8 should be high as well. In which case the network will want the couple to return for season six.

As it is, TLC is playing up the drama surrounding Jon and Kate s marriage, as evident by this online teaser to the new episode: When we last saw Jon & Kate, they were on a different page. Where are they now? In this one-hour, up close and personal season premiere, side by side Jon and Kate address what the future holds for their family.

Let me save you the trouble of watching to see what that future is. It s another season on TV. Maybe two. In fact, I m sure Jon and Kate can think of at least ($)40,000 reasons why they should continue with Jon & Kate Plus 8 as long as TLC will let them. I can think of one reason why they shouldn t. Their family.

How can having their marital difficulties played out in such a messy public forum be good for their kids let alone their marriage? Common sense says, when things are going wrong in your private life, the last thing you want to do is be public about it. Instead, retreat from the spotlight, and fix those problems. The question is, will the audience wait for them while they re away?

It s difficult enough for major celebrities to drop off the pop culture radar and maintain their in-demand status, let alone a reality TV show couple. Jon and Kate know that. They know that their reality show is the best thing that s ever happened to them at least, financially. And they also know that if they leave TLC for a season or two, there won t be a sequel waiting for them upon their return. No one will be tuning in to see Jon & Kate Plus 8 2.0. And who s going to watch Jon Minus Kate Plus 8?

So, the couple has resolved to publicly work through their marital problems: for the good of their family, and for the good of their checkbooks. Let s hope for the former, their plan works.

Agree or disagree with a posting? Lemme know. Have a topic or suggestion? Lemme know that, too. Send an e-mail to kbaird@theblade.com or call 419-724-6734.



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