Mr. Nielsen, Please Save These Children

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THE PLANK MAY 28, 2009

Mr. Nielsen, Please Save These Children

First, a confession: I have seen parts of a couple of episodes of "John & Kate Plus 8" (although, I swear, it was my wife's fault). That said, I was not one of the almost 10 million people who watched the show's recent season premier, all of whom were no doubt hoping to catch some of the marital discord between John and Kate that's been tabloid fodder for the last few weeks. And, frankly, I don't see how I, or anyone for that matter, can now watch that show in good conscience.

Here's the basic dilemma: It's pretty much impossible to see how this show, at this point, can be good for the welfare of the "Plus 8" part of the John & Kate equation. Growing up on the set of a reality TV show is bad enough, but when that reality TV show becomes about your parents' crumbling marriage? I can only imagine how much therapy those kids are going to need to undo the damage. And yet, from the perspectives of the TLC cable channel (which counts "John & Kate" as its most successful show) and, apparently, John and Kate (who reportedly make $25,000 to $50,000 per episode), the show has become far too lucrative to cancel--which is why, despite (or maybe because of) the fact John and Kate now seem to loathe each other, TLC has ordered up 40 episodes of the show for the coming season.  

In a recent interview with Daily Finance's Todd Pruzan, Dean Wareham--the frontman for the late great rock groups Galaxie 500 and Luna--explained why, despite the fact that "bands are supposed to break up," some don't:

There are certainly plenty of examples of bands whose members loathe
each other but who continue because they're making big money. The
Ramones went on for years with Johnny and Joey not speaking to each
other; the Beach Boys would enter the stage from different sides.

That's basically the situation John and Kate find themselves in. Except, unlike the Ramone or the Beach Boys, their decision to continue on with their act has some serious collateral damage--namely, their eight kids. Indeed, the only thing that can probably be done to help those children at this point are low Nielsen ratings. Since it's hard to know what else could convince John and Kate and TLC to bring an end to this gross situation. In other words: Save the children! Don't watch "John & Kate Plus 8"!

--Jason Zengerle

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