Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Jon & Kate Plus 8... Plus 2-Dozen Paparazzi...

It took Kate Gosselin six minutes and forty-two seconds into the fifth season-premiere of her family's show, "Jon & Kate Plus 8" (on TLC), to mention her children as her primary focus and concern. Less than thirty seconds later, she's making a "cute"-but-snide comment about not yet having handed out the invitations to her sextuplets' fifth birthday party.

During those six minutes and forty-two seconds leading up to Mrs. Gosselin mentioning her numerous offspring, Jon had apologized for his behavior (he's accused of having an affair) directly, while admitting that he made mistakes/"messed up" a solid handful of times. Not only that, he said, "One day my kids are gonna Google me, and I'm gonna hafta explain myself, and, hopefully, they're mature enough to understand that it was just all crap."

It's a very telling six minutes and forty-two seconds.

I consider myself an objective observer. I'm not a religious follower of the show, but I am a religious follower of tabloids (ooooh, yes, one of my many, many guilty pleasures), and Jon and Kate Gosselin have seen themselves absolutely splattered over those glossy pages more times than I'm sure they'd care to count in the past couple of months. In fact, citing, Kate herself has been on the cover of US Weekly for the past five weeks in a row! Five weeks. It's not Brangelina, but it's nothing to sneer at, either. "I mean, if I paid you $20,000, who knows what you'd say. ...I never read a tabloid magazine until I was in one. And the first one I bought was the last one I bought, too," said Jon, during one of the show's many asides to the camera.

Kate: "And I think what makes me the maddest... I've been traveling here, there and everywhere, because that's my job... And I'll be darned if they're gonna take me down with that." NOT the invasion of any sort of privacy in her children's lives. NOT what it is doing to her marriage. NOT what this sort of negative attention is going to mean for her family five/ten/twenty years from now. No: What makes Kate Gosselin the maddest is that she believes she's being villainized by the public because she's rarely around.

(Explain to me--somebody please explain to me--why that woman gets to say the words "I" and "me" all the time. The only person she takes seriously is herself. What a damn shame.)

Sure, they both shrug off accountability, flicking it away with gestures, tone-of-voice and eye-contact like they would a bothersome gnat. If you'd never seen an episode of "Jon & Kate Plus 8" before, you'd walk away from this premiere shaking your head: These people are...difficult to like. They're actually rather pitiable--not because they're so beleaguered and put-upon, but because they were dumb enough to pimp out their family and think there wouldn't be personal consequences somewhere down the line.

The rest of the premiere plays out as expected: The Gosselin kids are loud, hungry and ultimately pretty charming as the birthday party comes together. Kate remains perfectly coiffed, tanned and completely un-funny throughout (I've never seen a mother as determinedly blonde-streaked as that woman). Even though he's conspicuously absent for most of the real-time interactions, Jon continuously brings up his children in conversation.

...At least one parent does.

(Okay, okay, that was a little harsh. Kate does say that she loves her kids, and I know that the show's producers probably edit like mad to make it seem very dramatic. But still. She doesn't remind me of any mother I've ever met.)

In my opinion, this was the most interesting exchange during the episode:
Interviewer: "But what if the roles were reversed, and you were the one out traveling, and she was home?"
Jon: "[short laugh] Since I can't write, it'll probably never happen. [pause] Some people say I can't talk, either. Or breathe right. [short laugh]"

Well, that, and watching Jon and Kate dance around one another at the birthday party, playing the Avoidance Game. Ha. Ha ha.

Those kids smile and laugh and cry and play and eat (and eat and eat and eat!), and they want Mommy's attention and Daddy's attention and one another's attention. The children make the show watchable. And I don't want to rescue one of them as much as I want to rescue one of The OctoMom's spawn.

Will Jon and Kate make it? I don't know. I don't know as I care. But those Gosselins sure are a cautionary tale for any parent.

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