Photo Credit: TLC
Is there any middle ground with the Gosselins? Mom's a multitasking inspiration, or a fame-chasing shrew. Dad's a browbeaten patriarch, or a shiftless deadbeat. The kids are adorable moppets, or exploited victims. Polarizing doesn't even begin to describe the effect Kate Gosselin and her brood have on TV viewers. This weekend, a new series of specials, called Kate Plus 8 (conceived, post-marital-flameout, from the DNA of Jon & Kate Plus 8), premieres on TLC -- but will it change anyone's opinions about its star?
The two hours of Kate Plus 8 airing June 6 (9 p.m. ET) include footage of Kate, now a single mom, packing up her famous eight for a Florida vacation of sand, sun and swimming. She's seen on the brink of losing her cool, as she shepherds her flock from one activity to another safely. And she's also seen doting attentively on the kids, who clearly love her.
Perhaps TLC hopes that, just as the Gosselin tots grow up before our very eyes, viewers will evolve, too. With Kate in the tabloids (and on the ballroom floor) ever since her marriage to Jon publicly crumbled, we've all had a reality check about this reality-TV staple.
So, as Kate's TV career turns a new corner, let's dip back into old J&K+8 episodes -- do we see her through a clearer lens? I know I do.
- In J&K+8's season 1 (April-May 2007), Kate's persnickety as she inspects a new housekeeper's work and finds dust. Today, we think of her as a reality star with extensions and an entourage -- but think about it, she was a harried mom raising a litter, with a modest home and TV hotshots filming potential messes. She also probably lacked experience (a) dealing with someone helping her in her home, and (b) understanding how a minor gripe sounds downright bitchy after editing.
- In season 2 (Oct.-Dec. 2007), Kate is distraught when a cute ice-cream break at Walt Disney World becomes a big meltdown of sticky tantrums. After driving there 19 exhausting hours in a van, and forgetting to bring eight changes of clothes to the theme park itself, surely any mom would want to cry. (Today, she's clearly better at maintaining her composure, keeping her chin up as Dancing with the Stars' judges skewered her performances.)
- In season 3 (2008), Kate leads the tricky task of packing up the kids for a flight to Chicago, for the family's first Oprah Winfrey Show appearance. She wanted everyone to look great and stick to the Harpo producers' schedule, and frankly, that attitude may be why her current network keeps wanting to work with her (rather than Jon). And seriously, how many moms would treat an Oprah invite casually?
- In season 4 (2008-2009), Kate donned a white gown in Hawaii and told her kids that she and Jon were renewing vows in order to assure them that Mommy and Daddy were staying together forever. Okay, that's hard to explain, or defend (unless you believe the couple's rift in 2009 came as a complete shock to Kate -- but few J&K+8 fans think that rings true).
When Kate Plus 8 begins its run on TLC on Sunday, many fans will continue championing this highly scrutinized mom as a survivor and keep standing up to her critics, while others will just cry "Gosselin overload!" and seek out a new TV family to follow. Either way, viewers who love to snipe about her every move may be unable to resist tuning in. But expecting entrenched Kate-haters to actually enjoy K+8? That just doesn't add up.
- Exclusive Video! Preview Kate Plus 8
- The Appeal of Kate: We Could Relate
- The Gosselin Sextuplets Turn 6!
- Kate Gosselin's Solo TLC Show, Twist of Kate
Do you think Kate Gosselin should continue doing TV episodes featuring her children? Chime in below!