Jessica Sieff: Jon and Kate plus eight, two lawyers and a dose of reality

Published 11:00 am Thursday, August 6, 2009

This week, I will be nowhere near my desk.  I’ll be an ocean away and on vacation. Unfortunately with so much activity in the week leading up to my departure, with a list of things to do and a visiting little brother – my brain simply said, ‘no’ to reviewing any more about healthcare or government.

And then there they were.

The two smiley, now outdated faces of Jon and Kate, whatever their last name is.
I caught an episode of Jon and Kate at the height of its popularity some time ago. Last year or the year before that. It’s hard to tell. Those kids all look like they don’t age … unlike their parents, who have become rather bloated versions of what they might have been when this, their reality, all started.

Either way, I didn’t enjoy the experience of watching the Gosselin’s on television.
Maybe it was because on that particular episode the kids were having an issue with something the parents were asking them to do and so they were screeching and whining and all trying to talk at the same time which is tough enough on the ears when it’s just two or three kids, but when it’s eight and coming at you in surround sound – it’s like … a bunch of kids in surround sound.

Or maybe it was because that is every episode.

Let me say, I don’t hate kids. Or parents. Or parents of kids.

Kids are great, but I never cared for Jon and/or Kate and/or the eight.

What I do find interesting is the fact that reality television is now, once again, poised to capture reality at its most brutal. The demise of a marriage. What it will do to the children (though I’d bet a lot of that gets ‘edited’ out of the reality) and how two people who are now part of a bigger statistic will move on with their lives.

All eyes will be on this Pennsylvania family when their show returns with all new episodes featuring: separate narration segments. And a crocodile tear or two.

The children’s pain will no doubt be masked with trips to exotic locations, their parents traveling separately of course, and most likely the parents will whine about how hard it is for them to adjust to their new lives.

What I’m curious to see is if the reality series will show the kids eventually suffering from the separation.

The network could have turned the Gosselin story into a real life lesson. Sometimes, things go bad.  And sometimes what’s best for reality is for it to be lived off the air.
But they didn’t. Neither did the oh-so-concerned parents. Everyone wanted back on track with some new product placement.

Of course celebrities deal with all of the same issues that we normal, regular, run of the mill people do.  But it’s always on a larger scale which frankly, makes us regular people resent them a tad.

When most regular people try to get over a divorce, they usually hit up the best friend and throw back a couple of shots of something stiff. Of if it’s really bad – the whole bottle.
When celebrities are trying to get over a divorce, they board a plane to some African beach and frolic with Angelina Jolie. Whatever – it’s still pain, man, right?

The thing is, reality television stings – especially in the whole case of Jon and Kate. Because the basic premise was their happiness, regardless of what studio execs might tell you. They wanted to play on this big happy family, that as it turns out is just like you or your neighbor.

Not so happy.

That’s not bad. Just real.

And frankly, the real people shouldn’t be rushing off to exotic places on yachts, like Jon or all glammed up like Kate.

Hey, even I like my share of reality television … like ‘Ace of Cakes’ … that show is cool. Or Oprah. Or Grey’s Anatomy … what?  That one’s not real?  Neither is Oprah?!  Man … way to kick a girl.

Maybe Jon and Kate will turn out to be a turning point in reality television. Because now, maybe ex-husbands and ex-wives going through the pain of divorce will have a show they can relate to, as well as a few rambunctious little kids.

But more importantly, maybe a few interested people out in the world will learn the most important lesson from Jon and Kate … the most important people to share your life with are those you love most, your family and your friends. They’re the ones you want stopping in at your house everyday. Not necessarily all of the North American broadcast markets.
I’ll be back in this house next week – until then, in honor of my trip to the Emerald Isle, I leave you with a bit ‘o Irish wisdom:  “As you slide down the banisters of life, may the splinters never point the wrong way.”

Jessica Sieff is a reporter for the Niles Daily Star. Reach her at