US Catholic Faith in Real Life

Jon and Kate plus intrigue or boredom

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Along with nearly 10 million other people last night, I tuned in to TLC for the premier of the fifth season of Jon and Kate plus 8 to see what would happen.

Now if you haven’t been following the Drama: Jon and Kate Gosselin are a young couple with 8 kids: 8-year-old twins and 5-year-old sextuplets. I occasionally watch the show because the kids are ridiculously cute, but more recently the attention has been focused on mom and dad. Recently Jon was caught at the bar with a younger woman, and accusations of affairs on both sides have been flying in tabloids. Here's a summary from E! online.

There’s much speculation about the affairs (some even questioning whether it’s all about ratings), but it seems their marriage is teetering on the edge.

The real question, though, is not whether they’ll stick together but why do we watch?

A friend of mine has argued that she likes TLC’s 18 Kids and Counting, the show about the Duggars, an extremely religious, homeschooling family with tons of kids, better than Jon and Kate. The Duggar family is just a lot nicer than the Gosselins, she says.

Yes, I’d argue back, but the Gosselins are more real, complete with the bickering, sarcasm, and screaming kids. They are a Christian, but not overtly religious family (their book, Multiple Blessings, talks about faith). They just seem more normal.

Perhaps that’s the appeal even now: Marital troubles are common, and we want to know that we’re not alone. We want them to be able to work it out so we can know that we can too. (Disclaimer: I’m theorizing as a single person.)

But at the same time, it’s easy to wonder just how real this is anymore. What family agrees to be followed around by cameras all day? Reality TV seems to be just a part of the American Dream, Gawker suggests.

What may have started as a way to help support their large brood has turned into a good business, as Jon himself pointed out last night. I’m not saying that the drama is all a ratings ploy, but might a lot of their troubles be due at least in part to their place in the limelight?

So why do you watch or not watch the Gosselin family's (mis)adventures?