Ladies and gentlemen, the downward spiral has begun. If you haven’t been able to tell from my previous recaps of Jon and Kate Plus 8, then I find it my duty to inform you that this show is taking a long walk off a short cliff. The once-refreshing look into the everyday battles of a family trying to stand together against economic sorrows and emotional strain has become a predictable formula outside of the realm of the “real” family we once adored. It’s not that Jon and Kate aren’t together—divorce is a common enough factor in the American family—it’s that it’s downright boring. Let me give you the TOP SECRET equation that TLC obviously thinks is making the big ratings:
Pity Party for Kate + Jon’s Failed Shenanigans + Kids Say the Darndest Things = Television Gold?
Someone needs to tell TLC that the batch of secret sauce has gone sour.
Let me give a little bit of advice speaking as a humble representative of TLC’s viewing public.
- Keep It REAL—Not RICH: As usual, Kate comes out smelling like roses as she puts together a cute outside activity—grilling, bringing in a popcorn machine, and watching a movie on a screen in the backyard.
RED ALERT: We want reality, people. And nothing says reality like conflict. I know that keeping the kids isolated is a security issue, but part of what made J & K so great in the beginning was seeing a real family of 10 deal with real situations. Absolutely nothing interesting is going to happen in your backyard—quality television conflict isn’t struggling to dump the popcorn machine bucket that you had shipped to your backyard. No! We want to seek Kate take those kids to a movie theatre and duke it out with the other patrons. Well, even if we’re not asking for that much conflict, we at least want to see something more like a middle class lifestyle and less like “Lifestyles of the Rich and the Famous.” The only point of interest here? I’m inclined to suggest that Kate might slowly be losing her mind—she donned a fuzzy pink hat and talked to the kids in a squeaky cartoony voice. Oh wait, that’s probably predictable too.
- Can We Just Cut Jon, Already? Talk about predictable—it never fails…or should I say, it always does. If there’s anything you can count on, it’s Jon planning a fun activity for the kids then royally messing it up. In this episode, Jon attempted to take the kids out fishing for the first time—across the back of their property through a virtual mud pit. Needless to say, there was much whining and very little entertainment. I will admit it was fun to watch the second attempt when Jon took them to a little pond that was stocked with fish that were virtually rolling out for the kids to pick up. Who can resist a good cry from Joel when he got whacked in the head with Aaden’s fish? Not me, that’s for sure. Also, it’s interesting from a psychological standpoint to know that big fish stories start early—those minnows turned into 3 footers. Maybe the old fish lie is just part of our DNA?
- The Sob Story Gets Old. Before I get into this, let me just say that I appreciate the fact that Kate’s going through an extraordinarily tough time just trying to keep her head above water with the kids, the media, and Jon’s multiple affairs. It’s a sad story, and if you don’t know, I’m totally on Team Kate—but we only need to see this up to a point. Kate’s weepy confession that she’s lonely and constantly overwhelmed is honest enough. Maybe she’s just a good actress, but she seems to genuinely care for her kids and regret that Jon couldn’t pull his head out of a certain orifice to be there all the time for the kids. The mood really hits home when Kate recounts how alone she feels when she knows she’s the one who has to carry the kids upstairs when they fall asleep outside—the weight of the kid is like the weight of the burden she has to carry alone. We understand. It’s because we understand that we know that the life of this family will never settle into something normal until it’s taken out of the media’s eye. The sob story’s redundant, and it’ll be that way until a major change takes place—and that’s not just getting Jon out of the house.
Jon and Kate Plus Eight is coming to an end—anyone who has watched it from the beginning can see the difference from just last year. We can hope that these episodes will provide happy memories for a family that’s generously shared their lives with us—the beautiful and the ugly. It just seems time to take a step back and let them get on with the “real” living we all look for on reality television. At least that way we can hope for a special when the kids hit those tough teenage years.
~ Billie BP