Jon & Kate Backlash - TV is No Place to Announce Divorce

Filed under: Celeb Parents, Opinions

Jon and Kate Gosselin

Should Jon and Kate have kept their big announcement private? Photo: Getty Images

Jon and Kate Gosselin's announcement that they are splitting up is a hot topic of conversation everywhere today. But while many of us are dissecting the Gosselin's marriage, friends and family are criticizing the couple's decision to publicize their separation on national television. And no one, it seems, is feeling particularly bad for Jon and Kate.

The Gosselins addressed their reality celebrity status in last night's show; Jon said that he was two hours late for the taping because "I had reservations about doing it, cause I didn't know what to say." Of course, he also criticized fans for their deep interest in the family's life. And then he went on to open up about his marriage and his hopes for the future, on camera, for those fans -- talking, of course, about the very things he was angry at viewers for wanting to know in the first place.

None of this is sitting well with those formerly close to the couple. Kate's brother, Kevin Kreider, said that he is "heartbroken" and "sad" about the news that his sister and brother-in-law are calling it quits. But it's not just the message that bothers him -- it's the medium: The announcement, he says, "was used as a teaser, used to gain ratings, without any regards for my nieces and nephews. It was really hurtful. We were really sad to see that."

Kate Gosselin of Jon and Kate Plus 8

    Is it splitsville for the Gosselins?
    Kate Gosselin, star of TLC's hit show "Jon & Kate Plus 8," speaks Wednesday May 13, 2009, at the Frauenthal Center in Muskegon, Mich. We may be seeing a lot more of Kate solo, now that her marriage is collapsing.

    Dave Raczkowski, / AP

    Jon and Kate Gosselin of the hit TLC show "Jon & Kate Plus 8" film an episode where they receive their own choppers (motorcycles) from the Orange County Choppers of the other TLC show, "American Chopper." The Gosselins go for a ride with the "American Chopper" cast before Kate later takes her custom pink bike for a ride of her own. All the while their children wander about the front lawn, not receiving much attention.


    Over the past five years, Kate Gosselin's life has gone from miracle mom to reality TV train wreck. What's next for Gosselin and her family? Maybe a return to something closer to normal. Here, Gosselin is spotted pushing around one of her daughters in a shopping cart at Target and Bed, Bath & Beyond.


    Kate Gosselin, seen here promoting her book "Multiple Blessings," seems to have made a life for herself that doesn't include husband Jon, who is reported to have been having an affair. But what about the kids?

    David Livingston, Getty Images

    Once upon a time, not so long ago, the Gosselins were our favorite reality tv family. It was hard not to love them -- after all, we all know how parenting changes us.

    Do you ever wonder what life would be like if you had one more child? How about two more? How about SIX more?

    Four years ago, Jon and Kate Gosselin went from being parents of two to parents of eight, and their lives have never been the same.

    Getty Images

    Today we all have a window into that life on TLC's Jon and Kate Plus 8. And of course, part of peeking into someone else's life is hypothesizing how we might do things differently or better, because it's always easy to imagine what you would do in someone else's shoes.

    What is harder to imagine is what it would really be like to walk in those other shoes -- what's it like to wake up every morning and be Kate Gosselin? ParentDish had a chance to ask her just that recently.

    In a normal week, the Gosselins have a television crew in their house about half the time, which is a lot, if you think about it. And while they will occasionally opt out of filming specific moments with their kids, the Gosselins have no editorial control over the show -- what you see is what you get, packaged by a team of folks at Discovery and TLC. But, Kate says, this is reality TV, and it accurately reflects life at the Gosselin house; nothing is pre-planned or made up. "We don't have time to memorize scripts," she jokes.

    I believe that.

    "We set out to show the truth," Kate says, "I couldn't watch it if it weren't true." What you see, in every televised moment, is precisely what is happening -- no stage directions or do-overs. This is life at the Gosselin house.

    Getty Images

    Kate Gosselin has gotten quite a bit of flak, both from the media and from viewers, for the way she treats her husband; the two are often shown bickering during the show. Kate says the criticisms don't bother her; she doesn't Google herself or make a practice of reading about herself on or off line. "Everyone has an opinion," she says, "and I'm only paying attention to my own." But she does admit that the way the show is edited affects how people see her family and her marriage. "If Jon and I have three spats over a two day period, they're going to edit it to make it look like those happened in the 22 minute period." The show is just a small slice of her family's life, after all.

    Kate is clearly focused not on what goes on outside her family but on her children. Her goal, she says, is to treat each child like an only child -- a hard thing to do when you're the mom of eight. "I hold myself to a very high standard," she says. At the same time, though, she's not trying to be perfect, or even to appear perfect to viewers of the show. She's just living her life.

    And yes, she's living it with television cameras in her house, but it's still her real life. Kate says that while the experience of being on television has changed her life, it hasn't changed who she is. She says the same about having eight children -- "It's hard to live through what we have lived through and not change. We are the same -- it's how people treat us" that is different.

    Getty Images

    One of the hardest things about her family, Kate says, is the noise; there are days when the older girls, Cara and Mady, come home from school and their reports about what they have done are drowned out by the noise of the sextuplets. More than anything, she says, she longs for peace and quiet -- otherwise, she would not change a thing about her life.

    Getty Images

It's not just family who are upset about the televised announcement, though. ParentDish reader LS agrees with Kreider's assessment that this was all about ratings, but puts some of the blame on the network: "If TLC really cared about the Gosselin's marriage, they would have offered, at the first sign of trouble, marriage counseling at the very least. Probably the thing that would have saved this marriage -- or at least given it a fighting chance -- would have been for TLC to cancel the contract."

But what is really getting critics are the Gosselin's claims that they are both putting their children first. "Baltimore Sun" columnist David Zurawik is outraged: "I wonder if [viewers] feel exploited by TLC selling ads and making millions of dollars out of a show announcing a divorce that will not only leave eight kids with a shattered family -- but a video record of their family coming undone that will define them for the rest of their lives." And one real life mom -- and viewer -- wondered if TLC would be taping the moment when Jon and Kate sit the kids down at the table and explain that Daddy is moving out. It's not hard to imagine.

What do you think: Should the Gosselins have announced their split on the show? Did viewers have a right to hear from them, or should this have been a private matter for this very public family? Will you keep watching the show, or have you seen enough?

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