Kate Plus 8 series finale: Kate Gosselin's faustian bargain

The XX Factor
What Women Really Think
Sept. 13 2011 12:15 PM

Kate Gosselin's Faustian Bargain

1315930337

After a period of declining ratings, Kate Plus 8 crawled to its depressing finale yesterday. It's almost hard to remember that the TLC reality show about Kate Gosselin, her now ex-husband Jon, and their eight kids was once the network's crown jewel of reality programming (back then it was called Jon and Kate Plus 8, of course). The Gosselin fam reached tabloid saturation sometime in the summer of 2009, when Jon left Kate for a series of 20something blondes who had achieved various levels of sleaziness (a plastic surgeon's party girl daughter; an erstwhile gossip columnist)—back then, Kate's sniping and Jon's hangdog expression and their eight adorable offspring were ratings gold. But after Jon left and the Gosselins' dysfunctional marriage was dissolved, the interest in Kate and her passel of babies dissolved, too.

Jessica Grose Jessica Grose

Jessica Grose is a frequent Slate contributor and the author of the novel Sad Desk Salad. Follow her on Twitter.

In this week's People Magazine cover story, Kate gives a thoroughly depressing interview on her family and her finances now that the show is ending. Before the show, she was a labor-and-delivery nurse, but she can't go back to that job and continue to afford the big farm house she lives in or private school for the eight kids. She's got to continue selling herself and her family to the media, Mama Rose style. As People points out, these are high class problems, but they're ones that it's hard not to have sympathy for because there are so many little kids involved. Though I believe that reality TV stars are mostly responsible for their own missteps, I don't think the Gosselin kids could really consent to being on this show in any legitimate way. This part was a real gut puncher:

Advertisement

Kate recalls that Collin [one of her seven-year-old sextuplets] after hearing of the show's cancellation, "said, 'I feel like crying but I can't.' I said, 'Because you don't want anyone to see your tears?' and he said yes. So I said, 'Cry when you're when you're in bed and nobody's looking. That's what I do.'

Kate, at least the televised version of her—has proven to be an unreservedly terrible person—but in a way the Faustian bargain she's made with TLC has a logic to it. She tells People that while her kids gave up some freedom and privacy, "As a trade-off we live in a great house on a great property, and they go to a great school. I feel they deserve that much." Though this sounds extremely manipulative, I have to agree with the Onion AV Club's assesment of the state of Kate:

It's the damndest thing, watching someone use the closing moments of her dying show to pitch a new vehicle to anyone who's watching, with a little guilt trip thrown in: My kids have to eat! I really do hope there's some tender-hearted CEO with a cable network to program who can find an excuse to stick her and her brood on the air in some low-traffic time slot where she can't do much harm.

We can only hope that this new show gives her kids the space they need to cry whenever they feel like it.

 

TODAY IN SLATE

The World

How Canada’s Shooting Tragedies Have Shaped Its Gun Control Politics

Where Ebola Lives Between Outbreaks

Gunman Killed Inside Canadian Parliament; Soldier Shot at National Monument Dies

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

Paul Farmer: Up to 90 Percent of Ebola Patients Should Survive

Is he right?

Science

“I’m Not a Scientist” Is No Excuse

Politicians brag about their ignorance while making ignorant decisions.

Technology

Driving in Circles

The autonomous Google car may never actually happen.

In Praise of 13th Grade: Why a Fifth Year of High School Is a Great Idea 

PowerPoint Is the Worst, and Now It’s the Latest Way to Hack Into Your Computer

  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 22 2014 9:42 PM Landslide Landrieu Can the Louisiana Democrat use the powers of incumbency to save herself one more time?
  Business
Continuously Operating
Oct. 22 2014 2:38 PM Crack Open an Old One A highly unscientific evaluation of Germany’s oldest breweries.
  Life
Gentleman Scholar
Oct. 22 2014 5:54 PM May I Offer to Sharpen My Friends’ Knives? Or would that be rude?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 22 2014 4:27 PM Three Ways Your Text Messages Change After You Get Married
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 22 2014 5:27 PM The Slate Walking Dead Podcast A spoiler-filled discussion of Episodes 1 and 2.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 22 2014 9:19 PM The Phone Call Is Twenty Minutes of Pitch-Perfect, Wrenching Cinema
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 22 2014 5:33 PM One More Reason Not to Use PowerPoint: It’s The Gateway for a Serious Windows Vulnerability
  Health & Science
Wild Things
Oct. 22 2014 2:42 PM Orcas, Via Drone, for the First Time Ever
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.