So Jon and Kate are getting divorced, which isn't much of a surprise for fans (or hate-fans) of their series — their relationship has seemed strained from the get-go, and in recent weeks those problems have apparently escalated. So the show now is in a strange scenario in a few ways: What kind of morbid voyeur watches a divorce show in which eight darling children cope with their parents' issues? (Um…a lot?) Can the show in its current incarnation document Jon and Kate's divorce in a meaningful, non-exploitative way? Do we as an audience even want it to try? In other words, What now?
On one hand…yeeesh. The pain and anguish inherent in most divorces are something I'd have a hard time wishing on even the most loathsome of all reality show personalities, let alone on actual human beings. On the other hand, is there something here that documentary television — or crafted drama of any kind — might and ought to strive to capture? Awful things happen, and they happen a lot, and watching people process those awful things isn't inherently depraved or unjust. There's a level on which it could be comforting, illuminating, humane, and…entertaining. Is that so wrong?
One of the things I like about the first few seasons of Jon and Kate Plus 8 is their sense of normalcy — grocery shopping, putting on shoes, eating dinner, etc. Things "normal" families do. Recently, those problems have been pushed off the series in favor of more telegenic, fame-specific endeavors, and in a twisted way, Jon and Kate's divorce re-grounds the show. A lot of American couples divorce, and plenty of well-adjusted, thoughtful, healthy kids have divorced parents. Might a series about a family dealing with divorce serve a certain kind of purpose on that front? I think it might, though I'm skeptical that J&K+8 has the depth to do so.
Okay, PopWatchers, it's your turn to weigh in. Would you rather the show call it quits, or do you think there's value to capturing and exploring the process of divorce — and can this show live up to that challenge? Do you want Jon and Kate Plus Eight to continue in light of the parents' divorce?
More on 'Jon & Kate' divorce:
Ken Tucker's Watching TV blog: 'Jon & Kate' minus a marriage: They'll divorce, and 'I will survive and they will survive'
Hollywood Insider: 'Jon & Kate' divorce: Lawyers weigh in on custody