Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Jon & Kate Plus Fatal Attraction

Seductive, powerful TV was the mistress that drove a wedge between Jon and Kate Gosselin, the Pennsylvania couple who have spent a goodly portion of their married lives on cable.

Having opened up their personal lives and their kids to a national audience, the unhappy couple profited materially. They enjoyed the fruits of such a deal with the devil over showing their family's "reality," but with success breeding another season and a cottage industry of products, there was no bowing out (even if they want to now probably).

So now the series is airing the train wreck of a marriage on the rocks, as the two are trapped in an embarrassing purgatory. The cable channel can't be displeased, with a huge tune-in on Memorial Day as Jon talked of remorse even as he denied having an affair. The overly coiffed Kate and the hair-plugs recipient Jon avoided each other coldly in scenes taped just weeks ago.

TLC will undoubtedly try to keep the golden goose producing, offering up marriage counselors and other "constructive" solutions to a family show gone sour. The kids, of course, will be victims in the long run. Here's a revelation for you: Fancy digs do not a happy family make. These children are in the unenviable position of possibly watching their parents' ugly breakup play out on prime-time TV. (One of the sextuplets pleads with her father at one point Monday, "Daddy, I don't want you to leave anymore." Here's hoping he doesn't.) How's that for a DVD keeper to show your psychiatrist some day?

You can blame the press (specifically the tabloids and paparazzi, who are like the legit news media's sleazy second-cousins) if you want, and neocons frequently use this misdirection, but it was the network and the merchandising/promotion arms of the big companies that led a willing Kate away on her business trips instead of watching all those kids. I mean, if you have sextuplets, you probably should stick pretty close to them while they're young instead of flying off without them for promotional purposes. Same goes for Jon.

"I have a lot of anger," Kate says in the episode. Maybe it's all a ruse, all I ratings-grabber that will end happily. But it looked a little too real to viewers.

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