It all started out so well. When TLC, known for its voyeuristic “reality” television, emerged with a new show in 2006, couch potatoes all over the country rejoiced. Jon and Kate Gosselin were just like you. They were witty, a little spastic, and clearly in their marriage for the long haul. Oh also, they had 8 little gremlins to support. Awesome television, anyone? Every major character-type was there. Jon and Kate were the doting parents, Alexis and Aaden were clearly the main characters because they were the most adorable of the bunch, and the rest of the kids were merely filler. No offense, but who really remembers anything Leah or Collin said? Exactly. Not to mention that Mady Gosselin clearly took on the role of villain. This girl is a reality mess at age 8. If she was locked in a room with Lindsay Lohan and Flavor Flav, she’d either come out victorious or with a crack pipe. She’s terrifying in that pre-pubescent way and I’m surprised the show is not yet called “Jon and Kate + 7 + 1 serving time in juvie.”
Part of the show’s appeal was that it catered to every demographic. It wasn’t just for suburban housewives who wanted to see people who had it worse than they did. In fact, it wasn’t uncommon to see the show providing welcome background noise during epic pong tournaments in frat houses and let’s not forget the show-themed drinking games. There were many variations, but some favorites were:
- You have to drink every time Mady hits someone. Drink double if there’s blood.
- Take a shot every time Jon is pussy-whipped. Two shots whenever his retort is an eye-roll since he’s too much of a stifled pansy to actually say something.
- Take a shot every time Kate has a lesbian haircut (warning: could cause alcohol poisoning).
The show broke reality TV barriers because anyone could watch it. I knew guys with piercings, tattoos, and murderous dispositions who would Tivo the show because “Aren’t Aaden’s glasses are just so gosh darn adorable!” TLC clearly had a ratings giant on their hands but like most giants, eventually they cheat and start wearing douche brands like Ed Hardy.
Everyone has a take on the national “Jon and Kate debate.” Some believe that Kate’s “type A+ with extra credit” personality drove Jon away, while others believe that Jon’s emergence as a total toolbag puts him at fault. I’m pretty neutral on the subject because, uhh, I have a life. But it’s easy to see how this would become an issue that requires national attention. Kate has chosen to take the high road and her PR people are clearly working overtime because she’s been killing her interviews (see Kate’s recent appearance on Larry King, for instance. And stay tuned for her guest-hosting stint on The View). She plays the sympathy card with such grace and poise that one tends to forget about her overbearing and smothering nature. Plus, Jon has been such an ass that Kate could come on any talk show with a bottle of vodka and pills and she’d still be considered the better parent by a long shot.
Meanwhile, Jon has started to anger TLC by wearing his Ed Hardy shirts during filming and they have retaliated by blurring the logo out. Which is probably doing him a favor. Also, the police have been called numerous times after Jon locked Kate out of the house. When did this show become “Cops?” And more importantly, what will Mady do now that she’s not the center of attention?
Alisa Averbukh is a freelance writer on her way to NYC . . . eventually. Read more of her musings here.