Photo Credit: TLC
It's an unfortunate coincidence that Bryan and Jenny Masche's WEtv reality show, Raising Sextuplets, premiered in June 2009 -- exactly the same time that Jon and Kate Gosselin's marriage was imploding. The Masches were immediately labeled as an anecdote to Jon and Kate, a young couple successfully raising sextuplets without all the drama. The second season of their show ended on Aug. 12 of this year. On Sept. 17, Jenny, 35, filed for legal separation from Bryan, 32. What happened to the Masches' seemingly happy marriage -- and did the reality show play a part in their break-up?
Obviously, the precipitating factor was Bryan's arrest on Sept. 11, for threatening violence against Jenny during an argument at her parents' house. The argument, according to People, was mundane: They were fighting over where to take the six children for the day. Clearly, the tension had been building up for a long time. Jenny's relatives told the magazine that the marriage really began to break down when the Masches moved from Arizona to Florida this past year.
"In Florida, it was rough," Jenny's brother, who lives in Arizona along with the rest of the Masches' extended family, told People. "I don't think they put a lot of thought into it. If they had stuck here with our family support, it would have been better."
Her brother says that Jenny wanted to move away from the family because they were getting "too much interference from outside people." That quote suggests that the couple was feeling the pressure of being judged by the outside world -- not just their surrounding family, but TV viewers around the country. It could be a coincidence that the marriage broke down during the filming of season 2. But it seems likely that the presence of video cameras added too much strain to the already-challenging domestic situation of raising six children.
The fact is, raising young children on 24-hour TV surveillance is still a very new phenomenon. Ultimately, any family that agrees to do a reality show is taking part in a risky experiment: We don't know what effect it will have on their children as they grow, or how it will change the parents' behavior. Most people, we imagine, would go crazy if they thought a camera was following them, recording every single bad day for the world to see. Add to that the pressure of being a new parent, and the difficulty of keeping a marriage together under the tremendous stress of multiples, and it may just be too much for any sane family to handle.
Of course, we'll never know if the Gosselins and the Masches would still be together if they hadn't become TV stars. But future couples who are considering reality show deals should weigh the odds carefully: If we consider the Duggars, the Gosselins, and the Masches, that gives parents of multiples a one in three chance of surviving TV with their marriage intact. Is it worth the risk?
Do you think reality TV destroyed the Masches' and the Gosselins' marriages? Chime in below!