The divorce papers have been filed. The announcement has been made. After 10 years of marriage, eight kids, months of speculation, and an dizzying number of tabloid covers, Jon and Kate Gosselin of “Jon & Kate Plus 8″ are officially dunzo. No surprise there. But what is surprising is that, divorce aside, “Jon & Kate Plus 8″ will go on. On June 29th, there will be an ode to the couple’s marriage—in other words, a highlights episode. Then the show will go on a break until August 3rd to give the family “some time off to regroup,” as a TLC spokesperson put it. After that, the show will resume. The house will now be the constant—the kids will always live there, while Jon and Kate switch off time in the family home. [AP]
My initial reaction after all this went down was, “What? They’re gonna keep the show going? TLC best be paying them well for this, because that’s crazy.” But then I had AIM chat with a friend in Los Angeles that might have changed my mind. She asked that I don’t reveal her name, but I will tell you this—she’s 33 and has a five-year-old daughter. After trying to make things work with her husband (her high school sweetheart, natch), they came to the conclusion that it just wasn’t working. They started divorce proceedings a few months ago. Needless to say, this hasn’t been easy for either my friend or for her daughter.
And here is my friend’s perspective on Jon and Kate: she’s glad they’re continuing the show as they go through their divorce. She thinks this will be a great thing for her daughter to watch. Not only will her daughter no longer feel like the only kid in the world whose parents are splitting up—she’ll at least “know” eight other kids going through the same thing. She can see that, yes, while it absolutely sucks, that it’s not the end of the world. That there will be fun times and happiness and all that jazz ahead. Not to mention that my friend thinks that having this on television could help her explain some of the things to her daughter that are really hard for children to understand—for example, that this divorce is in no way her fault. That it has to do with her parents’ incompatibility long term—not her.
I don’t know if I 100% agree—I mean, there are eight kids at play here, and all the media exposure and camera crews can’t possibly make this transition any easier for them—but I thought she made kind of a great point. There are a huge number of kids and teenagers in this country whose parents are or are getting divorced, and they don’t have many (any?) representations in pop culture to look to and recognize themselves in. Could Jon and Kate, not to mention the kids, help other people through this rough time? Can they be a model for how a split family can exist amicably, and help people figure out all the little challenges—from how to split custody to what to do during the holidays? What do you think?