Two days have passed since Jon and Kate Gosselin announced their pending divorce and for some reason, I just cannot stop thinking about it. I know that their existence has been whittled down to ethically devoid tabloid papers and that many who never heard of Jon & Kate plus 8 prior to the recent explosion of news coverage think that they are lame, horrible, dumb, etc., etc. - but I just cannot seem to stop analyzing the situation. The tale of Jon and Kate has taken a drastic turn in the last 3 years, and severely in the last 3 months, and I think what I find so fascinating is how much their lives and experience, in conjunction with the media storm, reflects so many values, issues and truths about our culture and reality in today's world.
I am one of the people who has watched the show from the very beginning. I have seen every episode and I get annoyed when people who never watched a single episode prior to the media frenzy criticize everything about the family. Over the years I have watched a loving family go through the day to day adventures of life with 8 children. Sure, maybe it was not all 100% real or the show paid for many of the families outings, but who cares? Anyone who thinks that there is no staging whatsoever in reality television shows is just silly. But what this show had was something different. It had a heart. The children were real and ridiculously adorable and the bickering between Jon and Kate seemed like a real marriage. This was a charming and lovable show that not a lot of people watched, which is part of why I loved it. Over the years I came to care about this family, as did many Americans. Then, as if overnight, the Gosselin shit hit the tabloid fan.
Suddenly, all these rumors started to swirl. I refused to believe them. Jon cheating? No way - no how! He is a sweet man and an excellent Father. And Kate cheating? Didn't believe that either. Sure, she can be bossy and high-stress, but she has 8 kids. I wasn't believing a word of it. Yet, as time went by it became more and more clear that something was not quite right. Reluctantly and with a saddened heart, I accepted the reality of Jon and Kate.
As I sit here today, I am so sad for those kids and for Jon and Kate, but I am also surprised at how wrapped up in all this I became. Why do I feel as though I know these people? I found myself wanting to say to them all, don't worry - you WILL get through this and it will be okay. While I think that the tabloids caught a lot of people's attention, mine included, I also know that I was a fan of this family for a long time. I was routing for them and wanted to see them all succeed.
Now with a divorce at hand, I am even more emotionally involved than I ever was. I can only attribute this to being a child of divorce myself. They are all at the beginning of a long process and a bumpy, emotional and terrifying ride. It is confusing and crappy and a downright pain in the ass - and that is just from the perspective of the child. Imagine what the parents who decide to put their beloved children through this are going through? It has amazed me that everyone has been so quick to judge this family. What does that say about our culture? Where is the compassion? Should they continue the show? Probably not. Did they bring some of this on themselves? Definitely. Are they horrible people for trying to come up with a way to support their children? Not at all.
Perhaps, in the end, this has turned out to be one of the most real reality shows. Like it or not, divorce is a HUGE part of life for many, many families. I have seen many people writing things that suggest they should stay together for the kids which I do not agree with. Living in a house with parents fighting all of the time is no picnic and nobody will convince me otherwise that that is better for the kids. Seeing their parents happy will serve them much more in their formative years, believe me. Whether they continue to go forward with the show or not is obviously up to them, but I hope that whatever happens is in the best interest of those darling children and that people back off the Gosselin's. They are not the first couple to get a divorce and certainly not the last. I challenge any new found critic to watch some old episodes and what you will find are two people with 8 kids who they love deeply and are trying to raise as best they can. Perhaps it is those slaving to and thriving upon all the negativity of the situation who should really take a look at themselves.