Jon and Kate separating, will split time with their product placement-wearing kids

Thirty-six years ago, American was shocked and captivated by An American Family and its announcement of a divorce between the couple the groundbreaking documentary series followed, and once again, America tuned in to see a couple’s relationship end on camera, although this time, it was no surprise. Also unlike that series, the first real serialized reality show, the couple didn’t split on screen. Instead, we only saw the couple talking in separate interviews–and not even mentioning the d-word.

While both Jon and Kate said they were separating, a title card came up before the last break that said, “On Monday June 22, 2009, legal proceedings were initiated in Pennsylvania to dissolve the ten-year marriage of Jon and Kate Gosselin.”

Before that, the couple explained that they’d have joint custody, although they didn’t quite say that. “The kids will remain living in their house,” Kate said, and “I will remain here as well during my portion of having them.” Jon will also days in the house with them when Kate is away, although he seemed ready to bail. “I could get offered a job and that will change the whole schedule,” he said. “I have a new chapter in my life. I’m 32 years old.”

“I don’t hate Kate, but, you know, I have to do what’s best for me and my kids,” Jon said. “Them first.” Kate expressed something similar: “I don’t hate him. Never have. Never will. he’s the father of my children. They’re great kids.” She also said, “I’m tired of smiling on the outside when I’m crying on the inside. I’ve been doing that for a long time.” And Jon said that with Kate, “I was too passive. Now I finally stood up on my own two feet and I’m proud of myself.”

While there have been other recent reality TV divorces–from Kathy Griffin’s split with Matt to the Hogans–but none of those have dissolved so publicly over such a long period of time. Essentially, this has seemed like the inevitable outcome for some time. Has there been a reason to watch week to week other than the dysfunction in their marriage?

However, they didn’t blame their TLC reality show. Kate said, “I believe that it’s a chapter that probably would have played out had the world been watching or not.” The series will apparently continue, although next week’s episode is “Jon & Kate Plus 8: The First 10 Years,” which means there’s no new episode ready. And this episode seemed finale-ish as it included a retrospective look back at early episodes as the two reflected–and there was also footage of some strange woman taking care of the kids who was also named Kate but looked absolutely nothing like the Kate of today.

Earlier, the first part of the episode focused on the kids getting new playhouses, and they were, as always, funny and innocent. So the most disturbing part of the episode to me was that the kids were wearing branded “Crooked House” t-shirts while their new playhouses were being installed, never mind that Kate said “Crooked House” repeatedly while praising them up and down and there were signs on the houses and the installers were wearing polo shirts and hats with the logo. Apparently this is nothing new, but do the kids really need to be billboards? I mean, besides for a broken marriage?

about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.