I wish I could present you with a pithy happy blog entry celebrating the end of Kate Plus Eight, but after watching it I am far from buoyant.
The beginning for the finale continued the discord at the end of the RV episode viewers saw last week. Ashley said she and kate have some issues to resolve, eventually, and she looked skeptical about resolution. On the other hand kate minimized the seriousness of Ashley's feelings by calling her overly dramatic and stating that in the five years they've worked together they've never had a disagreement, even a small one. That doesn't mesh with Ashley's strong statement that she was sick of kate's dramatics, indicating long term, not short term, drama. Maybe Ashley kept her mouth shut for the past five years but that doesn't mean there wasn't ever a disagreement. We all saw what happened when Jon tried to argue – or reason – with kate when she hit him, put him down or was otherwise abusive. It's easy to imagine Ashley not bothering to argue with kate after repeatedly seeing the futility of it, and only finally speaking out when trapped in the middle of nowhere with kate and having no other outlet for her frustration.
How sad it is that after all this kate says she loves Ashley and Ashley is family. As I wrote in my book, I believe that kate's unhappy childhood has prevented her from knowing what a family truly is. Over the years kate's referred to TLC and the crew as family while she's repeatedly alienated or rejected close and extended biological family members. When given the choice between ending the show or losing her marriage she chose the show, despite her promise to the kids that “we will always be a family.” The bottom line is kate can call anyone family or say she's got family as much as she wants to but those are just words that haven't borne out in her choices to have things rather than genuine quality human relationships, including saving her relationship with her husband for her family's sake.
Kate groused, “Holy cow, I'm unemployed and I have eight kids to provide for.” This would be the time for kate to move into Plan B, if she had one, but she was the first to admit she was shocked when the show was cancelled. I think kate's concerns about money is not that she doesn't have plenty, but that she's used to spending others' money rather than having to dip into her own wallet. At the time of the divorce Jon and kate were said to be worth $10 million, and the leading entertainment trade journal listed Kate's 2010 income as $4 million. The “bodyguard” was paid over $1000 a day by TLC. Former Timmy from TV's Lassie Jon Provost said in my book that TLC no doubt paid for the private school so the kids would be more available for filming than they would be at a public school where the rules about missing school are more stringent. And we all know about many of the other freebies (although not all, I'm sure.) Hopefully money has been set aside for the kids in reserves that cannot be accessed by kate because it's going to be awfully hard for her to eventually succumb to the mediocrity most of us are satisfied living with on a daily basis when the money runs out.
Interesting that when asked how they feel about the show ending, the kids said they're sad but they couldn't say why and none of them look genuinely sad. One of the twins even pulled the sides of her mouth down with her fingers rather than displaying genuine sadness, and then followed that up by explaining, in case we didn't get it the first time, that her doing that to her mouth meant she was sad. They all looked like they were repeating the party line because that's what they were supposed to say.
Kate stated “all of that financial responsibility” for the kids is on her, “Whew!” She neglected to mention the child support her former husband pays her. It may be mediocre compared to the $250,000 she made per episode, but he works an honest job and does the right thing by his kids, and it's insensitive to minimize that, just like it's insensitive to continually gripe about being a “single parent” when in fact she is only one half of the children's two parents.
“The First Voiceover Session” shown didn't mesh with kate's assertion that this was the “realest reality show ever.” Yes, there were retakes, and no, the kids weren't playing in front of the camera as she's asserted many times over the years. I was at the corn maze filming and I witnessed and documented what happened. These kids have worked their entire lives, period, and now they finally have a chance to stop working until they're old enough to choose their own jobs. Please, kate, don't screw it up again.
In her couch interview Jamie said the kate she sees now is not the kate she met at Reading Hospital, one she remembers being softer and more caring. The kate she sees now cares more about how she looks and being skinny, which Jamie attributes to kate having become used to a different level of treatment due to fame. This goes against what I've heard from others who worked with kate or knew her before fame hit, who've said that while fame has exacerbated kate's sense of entitlement, she was always difficult and demanding.
“Whoa, swearing, swearing.” God forbid anyone should swear in front of the kids, right? But what about the huge tantrums, including swearing, kate is notorious for at home when the cameras are off? Eventually the kids are going to rebel against this “do as I say but not as I do” hypocrisy, and it ain't gonna be pretty, and some of them are going to have hella potty mouths too.
Kate's always complained about the huge throngs of fans who've made her life miserable but from the clips shown it looks like she's drawn more attention to herself than necessary when she's recognized in public. She should try just calmly saying “hi” or “thanks” and keep walking, rather than standing there flailing her arms and complaining loudly that everyone is staring at her. That might help.
When asked how many times she and Jon discussed whether or not all the invasion was worth it, she said Jon was always ready to quit but she wasn't because “there's no perfect job, and it's a constant matter of just weighing the pros and the cons.” What a shame that it was never enough for her that her ex-husband wanted the kids off TV and wanted their normal life back. Instead she had to have more, more, more, and now she's got family “memories” on the same DVDs anyone else can buy and no marriage to show for it. And she's role-modeled very poor cooperative skills to her children in the process.
“Oh no, we don't hit, this is the potty corner.” Which means it's okay to hit outside of the potty corner? Former Gosselin employees have talked about kate taking the kids into rooms away from the cameras and hitting them and Al Walentis' book recounts one incident where she spewed F-bombs at the top of her lungs in front of the children as though there was nothing unusual in her doing so. Again with the “do as I say and not as I do.” Let's hope the eight are those kinds of learners who utilize their childhood experiences to improve their own parenting down the road, rather than replicating it and becoming hitters themselves. Unfortunately only time will tell but chances are excellent that at least some of them are going to turn out just like their momster.
The “I'm in charge and that's never going to change!” scene. I wasn't going to address the fake boobs but it's impossible to ignore the two elephants in the room. This is more than weight loss, running and a good bra. This is surgical. I think the reason viewers have been so annoyed at kate's not owning all of her cosmetic surgeries is because they feel that their intelligence has been insulted, much like viewers of The View felt insulted when Star Jones wouldn't cop to having had gastric-bypass surgery when it was obvious she had. As Judge Judy would say, don't pee on my leg and tell me it's raining. If my TV was 3D both of my eyes would've been poked out by now.
Yes kate, all kids love watching their parents doing things together and getting along, but how sad that the only family documentation of this is in old footage that anyone can buy for a couple of bucks on eBay. Since the Gosselin family belonged to TLC, they were strictly limited in being allowed to take images even of their own family, but why would kate bother when she considers TV shows to be the family videos? The problem is, there are no truly private family moments in those “family videos,” no matter how much they are produced to appear to capture intimate moments. As Paul Petersen says, the presence of cameras changes everything, and even babies recognize they are being filmed and alter their behavior as a result.
Kate says this has been the most real reality show and the kids will always be able to look back and see their real lives and it doesn't matter whose living rooms it went to. One of the criticisms of the show has always been that the eight have had no choice about having their most private moments sold as entertainment for others. Unfortunately the finale showed more of the infamous potty and vomiting moments as well as some meltdowns. Why would the kids look back on this with fondness and why would they want others to see this? And why doesn't it matter whose homes it went into? How confusing it must be for the eight to hear in school about never putting private information about themselves on the Internet and to learn about stranger danger and personal safety, only to have videos of themselves in all levels of nudity available to any pedophile with $9.99, not to mention their mom sharing their actual locations at various times on twitter.
The last ten minutes of the finale were warm and fuzzy and featured a lovely song by Francesca Battistelli but I still left the last episode feeling sadness that after years of showing us how abusive she is, kate didn't utilize this last large-scale opportunity to redeem herself by acknowledging and taking responsibility for her bullying ways. It's unbelievable that someone could receive so much consistent feedback about themselves over so many years and yet still find ways to minimize, rationalize and outright deny it. She may have filed the divorce papers but it was her loss. Jon may not have been perfect during the marriage but at least he was a nice person, and he's long redeemed himself as a good parent by sticking to his word to put his children first.
Kate stated in an interview this week that we'll see the kids again and that she's not concerned that Jon doesn't want them on TV. She also proudly unveiled her new web site which from first look promises to be another venture in grifting, self-aggrandizement and mercilessly selling her children. Unlike Jon, she hasn't learned a thing.
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