Under the glare of the media spotlight, Jon and Kate Gosselin are trying to figure out what the next step is for them and their family. Can they salvage their marriage and what will happen to their TLC show Jon & Kate Plus 8?
Marc Berman, senior televison editor at Mediaweek told Us magazine:
“It went from a feel-good show about this young couple raising eight children to a show about two parents trying to keep their marriage together. And I think ultimately it’s going to zigzag like this all season.”
So can the now-somber show survive?
“I don’t think the show’s over,” Berman says. “It depends on the audience.”
Robert J. Thompson, founding director of the Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture at Syracuse University, tells Us the show will likely lose “that particular audience who sat down and watched it with their kids.”
On the plus-side: It will gain new viewers interested in “a dishy, train wreck reality show.” Thompson notes that Jon & Kate’s original format probably had a “shelf-life.” He cites Queer Eye for the Straight Guy as an example of a buzzy show that “burned really brightly” but eventually faded.
Thanks to their marriage scandal, the Gosselins have essentially created a new show, Thompson says.
“My guess is there are a lot of people who never watched this show before who have tuned in,” he tell Us.
He’s right: Roughly 9.8 million watched Monday night’s premiere – more than double the audience for its fourth-season finale several weeks ago.
And more people may continue watching it for “that sense of mockery,” says Thompson.
Kate Gosselin “has now emerged as a significantly less sympathetic character, a porcupine, and that could make for interesting TV viewing,” says Thompson. “But will she be willing — for the sake of keeping the show interesting — to put herself up for that kind of loathing, which Anna Nicole Smith was completely willing to do?”
Naturally, the Gosselins’ future is imperative to the show.
“In a perfect world, they’ll work things out,” says Mediaweek’s Berman. “But they aren’t indicating that that’s the direction they’re heading in.”
Us Weekly television critic John Griffiths says people may not watch if Jon – who has said he does not like being in the public eye – were to divorce Kate and leave the show altogether.
“He’s sort of the mellow voice; he’s enjoyable,” he says. “He balances her shrillness. I’m sure moms out there can relate to a harried mom of 8 kids, but I’m sure they also even maybe had a little thing for him. So, if you take the romance out of there, it’s just like, ‘What’s the point?'”
Adds Berman, “Jon and Kate are not Hollywood movie stars. They’re reality stars. If they botch things up, their 15 minutes are done.”
Let’s hope Jon and Kate’s focus is their children and not their 15 minutes.